Smartphone usage increased dramatically during the pandemic as more people lost their jobs, were furloughed, or were adhering to stay-at-home orders.
While smartphones can provide endless entertainment, they can also be bad news for your budget. In fact, the combined global monthly amount that consumers spent on apps and games peaked in May 2020 at $9.4 billion, a 25 percent gain on the monthly average in 2019.
While fun, it may be time to do a digital detox. Here’s why it could be good for you mentally and financially, plus five tips to help yourself unplug.
You're Exposed to Fewer Ads
If there’s a screen in front of you, you can’t avoid exposure to ads. From sponsored content on social media to well-targeted email campaigns, advertisements are everywhere.
According to a recent report, 2018 was the first year that people worldwide spent more time-consuming media on their computers and smartphones than on television. Because of this, companies have changed the way they advertise. More marketing efforts are geared toward grabbing the attention of those who shop online, game on their phone, and scroll through social media regularly.
By spending less time online, you’re automatically reducing the amount of ad exposure you’re receiving every day. Less exposure to ads means less temptation to purchase impulsively.
It Builds Your Impulse Control
When you’re exposed to the same brand or product over and over and over, it can wear down your impulse control. The more often you’re exposed to something, the less impulsive the purchase will feel. Recognizing this fact is an important part of resisting any purchasing temptations.
Studies on smartphone usage have shown that your impulse control decreases with excessive use of your phone. With everything right at your fingertips, it can be harder to say no. Therefore, more time away from your phone can help build up your impulse control and remove the temptation altogether.
You Won’t Experience FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
By logging onto Facebook or any social media platform, you are exposing yourself to the lives of others. Social media influencers flaunt new products or share their latest travels. Friends post about taking weekend trips and wearing fashionable clothing, whatever it is your connections are doing right now, you’re seeing. This exposure could easily trigger the feeling of wanting to do the same thing or buy the same merchandise as those sharing on social media. FOMO is short for “fear of missing out,” and it’s a very real phenomenon. You start to envy the people that you see living these lives and want the same for yourself.
Of course, most of these experiences or products aren’t free. Therefore, your FOMO could soon translate to a need to spend money to achieve a similar result. If you didn’t log on in the first place, you wouldn’t experience those feelings, saving you money by removing the temptation from your life.
It Can Help Realign Your Priorities
Do you find yourself mindlessly perusing shopping websites, and the next thing you know, you have unnecessary items in your cart? If so, you’re not alone. While this can be harmless, it causes unnecessary temptation.
Spending time away from your phone or computer frees you up for more time spent with your family and friends, learning a new hobby, or reading a book. These types of activities can bring you a much-needed mental break as you realign your priorities and reassess what’s most important to you.
It Gives You Back Your Free Time
Think of all that you could do with more hours in your day. You could get more exercise or start a side hustle, focus on home improvement projects, and more.
How do you begin this process? A digital detox can be quite a lifestyle change, but there are ways to get started and continue with the new habits you are forming.
5 Steps to Start Your Digital Detox
Step #1: Write Down Your Hobbies & Interests
Make a list of all the things you like to do that don’t involve a device.
Are there things you’ve always wanted to accomplish but never seemed to have the time for? Listing out what you’re interested in can serve as motivation to stay off your phone. Maybe the money you’d normally spend online shopping or gaming can be put toward a new hobby or project.
Step #2: Count Your Screens
Doing a digital detox doesn’t just refer to your smartphone. It can include every screen in your life - your tablet, ereader, smartwatch, gaming device, etc. It might come as a shock just how connected you really are.
Step #3: Ease into Your Detox
For most, there are some logistical issues with trying to quit technology cold turkey. You need to connect with your families, friends, schedule meetings, work from home, and complete other important tasks on your devices.
Start by setting specific times when you want to avoid screens, such as first thing in the morning or right before bed. Studies have shown that blue light is harmful to your eyes and increases your alertness at night, making it harder to fall asleep and ultimately to wake up in the morning.
Step #4: Determine Your Screen Allowance
As mentioned, there are instances in which you simply have to use your device to work or connect with others. If this is the case, you may find it useful to utilize an app. Some apps can limit your screen time.
These can help you focus on the moment and quit mindless scrolling once you have sent that email or important text message.
Step #5: Get Back to Basics
Think about what you did before the era of smartphones and devices. Put away your Apple watch for a while and use a regular wristwatch. Switch to an analog alarm clock in the morning so that you don’t need your phone alarm right next to your bed. Instead of reading books on your Kindle or tablet, go back to the library and get the hard copies. It will be a lifestyle change, but it will set the tone for your digital detox, making it easier to disconnect.
While there is more involved in improving your finances, a digital detox can be an effective place to start. Utilize these tips, and slowly but surely, your finances should begin to improve.
Erickson Braund is the Founder and Chief Financial Officer at Black Walnut Wealth Management. He is a Certified Financial Planner®️ professional and a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor®️. Eric brings over 20 years of experience working with high net-worth individuals and families, helping them achieve their goals of protecting and growing their wealth for retirement and for generations to come. Because Eric is a CFP®️ professional, he adheres to high ethical standards and engages in at least 30 hours of approved continuing education in the financial industry each year.
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