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I started technical budgeting and you should too

One night last month, before I went to bed, I received a text message: “You spent Rs 459 on a debit card on Amazon.” I read the message and fell asleep. Later in the morning when I woke up I read the message again and wondered why Rs 459 had been taken from my debit card. I then checked the Amazon app and found that I forgot to turn off auto-renewal. Rs 459 isn’t a huge sum but I was really pinched when the money was taken from my account for a service I no longer use. That day I realized that I seriously need to better understand my monthly expenses, especially the amount spent on services and apps. I’m not trying to be a personal finance expert, but I want to share my experience and a few tips you can use to better manage your tech budget.

Understand where your money goes

Whether you’re a student or a professional, pay attention to the basic components of financial literacy. Nobody will tell you which is more important: a coffee in a coffee shop or paying your smartphone’s EMI before the due date? It’s all about understanding the benefits of being financially literate so you know where your money is going. Every cent counts. Up until a few months ago, I randomly bought vintage gadgets from OLX and messed up my finances as a result. I still buy vintage gadgets, but now I check my bank balance and spend before buying anything new.

Disney Hotstar Plus offers three tiers, and each plan costs more than the other. (Image credit: Disney)

Allocate monthly budget for streaming services

About a month ago I logged into my savings account and started calculating the money I spent on subscriptions. To put it simply, it was a shock, especially the fact that there were so many monthly subscriptions that I had forgotten. It’s easy to subscribe to subscription services, but difficult to continue using them or keep track of what you’re spending on them.

First, let me tell you how many subscription services I subscribe to:

apple music

Netflix

Amazon Prime

PlayStationPlus

Google Doc

Old Balaji

Zee5

Xbox Game Pass

Disney Hotstar Plus

AppleTVPlus

Here’s what I did to reduce my spending on streaming and subscription services.

Identify the services you can cancel

At the weekend, sit down and consider which services to keep and which ones to cancel. For example, if you’ve signed up for Netflix and haven’t seen any shows that appeal to you lately, simply cancel the subscription. It can save you Rs 499 per month. Instead, save the money for another important financial goal, such as B. Travel or paying EMI for the laptop you just bought. The good thing about these services is that if a show interesting enough comes along, you can always come back and continue.

It’s easy to subscribe to subscription services, but difficult to continue using them or keep track of what you’re spending on them. (Image credit: Netflix website)

Choose the basic subscription level

I know people whose only entertainment is access to Netflix or Amazon Prime because they don’t have cable at home. I will tell them to go for the basic non-premium subscription tier and save some money. Netflix, for example, costs Rs 149 for a mobile-only plan. Opting for this plan makes a lot of financial sense if your ad is mobile-only. Before subscribing to any service, ask yourself if you really need the super premium subscription. For example, Disney Hotstar Plus offers three tiers, and each plan costs more than the other. The Rs 1,499 annual plan is pointless if you don’t have a 4K TV at home but four people can sign up with the same account and enjoy content ad-free.

The Apple One bundle brings together Apple’s premium service offerings, like Apple Music and Apple Arcade, at a discount. (Image credit: Apple)

Look for a bundled plan

Instead of subscribing to individual services, opt for a bundle that combines many services under one roof. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Apple One, it’s a service bundle that brings together Apple’s premium service offerings, like Apple Music and Apple Arcade, at a discounted price. I recently subscribed to the Apple One Individual plan, which gives me access to Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade and 50GB of iCloud storage, all for Rs 195 per month. Previously I paid for Apple Music and Apple Arcade individually and both services cost more than Rs 200 per month. Another reason to go for the Apple One bundle is severance pay on Apple TV Plus, a show I’m currently addicted to.

Hot Tip: Make sure you’re aware of mobile data plans that offer free access to popular streaming services. Reliance Jio, Airtel, and Vi (formerly Vodafone) have prepaid and postpaid plans with a free subscription to streaming services.

Assign a monthly budget

This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned about money in the past decade. Not only does budgeting help you reach your financial goals if you stick to them, but documenting all of the expenses incurred in a month is a smarter move in the long run. Here’s how to do it.

A fixed amount for streaming services: Set a budget to spend on streaming and subscription services. A simple way to share it is by using the 50/20/30 rule of budgeting. Essentially, you split your income into three parts: 50% of your income goes toward basic needs (renting the house, groceries, etc.), 20% toward savings (and paying off debt), and 30% toward personal use (eating out, streaming services, etc. ). When it works, a monthly budget offers a lot of flexibility. In my case, I’ve figured out what services I want to use, and based on that, I allocate a monthly budget. For me, the biggest challenge is getting into the habit of how much I have to spend each month.

Track where your money goes: Write it down on paper, maintain a spreadsheet, or use budgeting apps and jot down all the expenses you have for a month. The ability to make better financial decisions is what you need to learn, and too fast.

Try using budgeting apps to keep track of all your streaming services and apps on the go. (Image credit: Billbot/Screenshot)

Categorize your expenses by type: I might pay a bit more for PlayStation Plus, but I don’t have to pay bank or credit card companies in monthly installments for a new iPhone 13. I have the freedom to unsubscribe to PlayStation Plus any day, but you don’t have the option to skip the monthly installment and pay later.

Leave room for flexibility in your budget: I’ve seen people allocate a monthly budget with great enthusiasm, but fail to stick to a budget unless their income is stable. That’s the harsh reality. Budgeting can be very difficult when your income is not stable or expenses are constant. You know you are planning a trip to Dharamshala, so your tech budget needs to be created accordingly. Can I slash a three-month premium subscription to Spotify and use that money to rent a bike instead? Understand that your income or expenses will vary monthly. You don’t have to trim everything; It’s about priorities in life.

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