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How do I work out my monthly minutes, texts and data usage?

It’s easy to monitor your monthly calls, text messaging and data usage habits, which is handy for two reasons. First, it ensures you don’t go over your limits and get charged extra by your provider. And second, it helps you to work out the best tariff to meet your needs.

Most people will opt for a contract that’s more expensive than it needs to be, simply because they don’t want to go over their allowance and get charged silly cash for every text they send or megabyte of data they use. Perfectly natural, but it’s actually not too hard to work out your monthly usage and pick a suitable deal – or set limits to how much you call, text and browse, to keep from being billed extra.

How do I monitor my calls and texts each month?

First off, calls and texts. Don’t worry about mentally tallying how many minutes you’ve used so far this month, or chalking off every text message you send on the back of your hand. Just grab an app like Joiku Phone Usage, which monitors exactly how long you spend nattering and messaging your mates over a set period.

If you’re monitoring your phone use to see which tariff you should move onto, try using the app for a few months ideally – after all, your numbers are likely to fluctuate depending on the time of year.

Joiku Phone Usage also allows you to set warnings, so you can use the app to prevent going over your tariff’s limits. Just tell it your cut-off points and you’ll receive a prod when you’re getting close.

If you’ve got an iPhone, you can also check your total call duration by going to Settings > Cellular/Mobile. Scroll down and you’ll see an overall call time, which you can reset at the start of your contract month.

Finally, just to be extra sure, you can always log into your account on your provider’s website. You should be given a full breakdown of how many minutes and texts you’ve used up so far that month.

How do I monitor my data use each month?

Then there’s the all-important data factor. Hitting your limit could mean no more web browsing until your allowance resets, or being charged over the odds every time you go online. Thankfully, it’s once again easy to track how much data you’ve used so far each month.

Android users, for instance, can go to Settings > Data Usage and check out the handy graph, which gives you a month’s usage at a time. You can set the day of the month that the graph is reset, check out historical results and even set a warning and data cap level, so you don’t go over your limits. Plus, you get a break-down of which apps are using your data, ranked by the most data-hungry.

On iPhones, go to Settings > Cellular/Mobile and you’ll see the data usage stats since the last time you hit ‘reset statistics’. If you want to track your usage, just reset at the start of the month.

There are also plenty of apps for monitoring your data usage, including the excellent and easy-to-use My Data Manager.

And as a final option, you could also log into your account on your provider’s website and you should be able to see an accurate accout of how much you’ve used from your monthly allowance.

The good news is that some providers are now becoming more flexible in this area, so you don’t need to worry about such rigid monthly limits. GiffGaff’s ‘Goodybag’ scheme allows you to increase or decrease your package limits on a monthly basis, so you aren’t stuck with a ropey deal for years.

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