Digital technology is important in the modern world. Aside from being an employment requirement for most, digital technology provides great financial features such as online banking and applications that are monitoring your share portfolio – but then again, this technology could also be sending you broke.
With the internet at our finger tips day and night, on numerous devices, the temptation for online shopping, gambling and gaming can be hard to resist. Not only are we spending excessive time on scrolling and surfing the web but we’re pouring money into our digital addiction and with over US$4 billion dollars in revenue made from digital advertising in Australia this financial year, who could blame us.
If you’ve found a connection between your shrinking bank balance and your daily eBay deliveries, then it’s time for a digital detox! While going to a digital detox retreat or remote Island without Wi-Fi (yes, they do exist) sounds like a great idea it’s impractical for your goal of saving money, why not challenge yourself to a digital detox this week without leaving the state.
Day #1: Monday
Task: Find out where your money (and time) are going
Day one of your digital detox is the day to review your use of technology for non-business related activities. Is your train commute to work spent on your iPad? Your trip to the toilet spent checking sports scores on your iPhone and your evening on your laptop? Once you realise when and where you are ‘switched on’ then you’ll be able to work towards breaking the habit. Try reading a hard cover novel, newspaper or magazine on your commute to work, put your laptop away for the evening and focus on having dinner with your family, friends or flat mates.
Now that you know your digital habits, it’s time to work out how much they’re costing you; have a look at your recent bank statements including any credit card statements, where is your money going? Yes, there will be rent payments and the odd coffee purchase but are there also online purchases on your statement, perhaps a dress you brought after receiving an email advertising a sale at your favourite store? Visually seeing that your money is going to online purchases during your lunch break is a great way to stay motivated on your detox, so get your calculator out and add up how much you’re spending online.
Day #2: Tuesday
Task: Make a conscious effort to unsubscribe your inbox
Hopefully, you read a book during your commute to work today and now you’ve logged into your work inbox – notice a few emails in there that are not work related? Perhaps airline sales and the new season catalogue from a clothing store? Your work inbox is not the place for these emails or promotions, not only are they distracting you from what you’re being paid to do but the constant advertisements showing lush holiday retreats and online deals are tempting you to part with your cash before you’ve even finished earning it! A quick way to target these emails is to type in ‘Unsubscribe’ in your inbox search function, this will sort your emails and display the promotional ones.
Click on each promotional email – ignore those cheap airfares to the Gold Coast and scroll to the bottom, click the ‘unsubscribe’ button and then delete the email. Repeat this for each email that is not directly work related for the rest of the week. Then log into your personal email inbox and unsubscribe from all the catalogues and sale announcements you are receiving in there too. Don’t worry about missing out on deals, when you do require airfares or clothes you can visit plenty of websites that will show what deals they have on at the time.
Day #3: Wednesday
Task: Block your temptation on your phone
Now you’ve cleaned out your inbox it’s time to block temptation from each digital device, love playing candy crush and placing a bet here and there? It’s time to block the items draining your finances. Do this by deleting any game apps and betting apps on your device, then go to your notification center and turn off notifications so you won’t have pop-up’s encouraging you to play games. If after your detox you still want to play a certain game you can always download it again.
Day #4: Thursday
Task: Stop using social media, set a goal to avoid it for 1 week
Spending your weekends twittering, hash tagging and posting on Facebook? You’re not alone. With 13.5 million Australians on social media we are spending plenty of time digitally social and while social media is free we are being bombarded with advertising targeted at our online profiles. Notice how after you announced your engagement on Facebook you now have advertisements popping up for wedding dress shops, jewellery and bridal expos? This is target marketing at its best and it’s only going to get worse with Australian digital advertising expenditure forecast to increase to US$6.37 billion dollars by 2018. Spend today logging out of all your social media accounts for the week and maybe even deleting a few.
Day #5: Friday
Task: Make an effort to not gamble via technology
You’ve worked hard all day without being distracted with promotional emails or social media and you’re now enjoying a drink after work and being social (not Facebook social). The football game is about to kick off on the television so you reach for your phone to place your bet as certainly your team will win this match – well stop right there. You’ve worked hard all week to earn money that you’re about to gamble away before the weekend has even begun, as an alternative you could enjoy your beer, the company of your friends and watch the game not the odds.
Day #6: Saturday
Task: Have a completely digital free day, no devices/no connectivity
Saturday is the day to ‘unplug’ from your digital life and actually turn off your electronic devices – including your Wi-Fi, computer, laptops, gaming consoles, e-readers, iPad’s and turn off roaming on your mobile phone too. Now the temptation is gone, you’ve unplugged and are ready to enjoy a digital free day! Go play a game of sport with your friends or catch a movie or lounge around with a cup of tea counting the money you’ve saved this week.
Day #7: Sunday
Task: Reconnect with real friends and experiences
This week you recognised the amount of money and time spent on your digital devices, so you unsubscribed and blocked temptation, gave social media the cold shoulder, placed your support not your coin behind your favourite football team and even went a whole day without your digital devices! Now it’s time to re-connect and I don’t mean digitally, contact your friends and family and have a meaningful conversation rather than read their recent status updates, arrange a time to catch up and tell them what you have been up too.
Congratulate yourself on achieving your digital detox this week and consider an ongoing digital Sabbath where you choose a work free day to unplug from your digital devices and save money.
*statistics courtesy of Statista.com