Our Thoughts

A Digital Detox Could Improve Your Finances

Your smartphone can be bad for your budget. Between the constant exposure to advertisements, seeing the vacations and gadgets that others are posting, and the ease of online shopping, it’s easy to become influenced and overspend.

Websites and apps make it easy to shop. Some sites even allow you to bypass the tedious process of clicking the “Add to Cart” button, enabling you to “Buy with One-Click.” With just a few taps your item is on its way and because the process was so easy, it’s hard to remember that you’ve spent money at all.

Even mobile games can pull you in. While it may not seem like a big deal to spend a few dollars on some extra lives in your game, consider that in May 2020 the combined global monthly amount that consumers spent on apps and games peaked at $9.4 billion USD! 1 You don’t have to give up your games; they’re a great way to relax and connect with friends. But if your game-time is something you value, then work it into your existing budget by setting a limit of how much you can spend on the game per month.

While that’s all fun and games (pun intended,) it may be time to do a “digital detox.” Here’s why it could be good for your mental and financial health, plus 5 tips to help you unplug.

4 Ways a Digital Detox Can Save You Money

1: You’re Exposed to Fewer Ads

If there’s a screen in front of you, there’s an ad in front of you. From sponsored content on social media to a well-targeted email campaign, advertisements are everywhere. Even the first few listings on a google search are usually ads.

According to a recent report, 2018 was the first year that people around the world spent more time consuming media on their computers and smartphone than on television.2 Because of this, companies have changed the way they advertise. More marketing efforts are being 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.

2: 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.

In fact, studies on smartphone usage have shown that your impulse control is lessened with excessive use of your phone.3 With everything right at your fingertips, it can be harder to say no.

3: You Experience Less FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

When you log onto social media platforms, you’re exposing yourself to the highlight reels of others’ lives. Social media influencers flaunt new products, friends post about taking weekend trips, and everyone somehow always seems to have more fashionable clothes.

Whatever your connections are doing right now, you’re seeing it. This exposure triggers the urge to do or buy the things that let you “keep up” with what’s being posted on social media. FOMO (short for “fear of missing out,”) is a very real phenomenon. It’s hard to see all the fun and interesting things that people are posting and not want the same for yourself.

Of course, most of these experiences and products cost money. Your FOMO can influence you to spend cash on things that don’t align with your goals or values. Keep in mind that social media is not a complete picture of others’ lives, they’re only showing the things they want the world to see. If you find yourself struggling with the constant comparison, it may be better to log off. Not only will your wallet thank you, but your mental health will too.

4: It Can Help Realign Your Priorities & Give You Back Your Free Time

Do you find yourself spending too much time mindlessly perusing shopping sites or scrolling through Facebook? You’re not alone. Technology is a great source of entertainment. It’s an immensely helpful tool that has vastly improved the lives of many. Technology has made knowledge, services, and opportunities more accessible, and it’s a wonderful way to stay connected to friends and family. But, like anything, moderation is key.

Think of all that you could do with more hours back in your day. You could get more exercise, start a side hustle, or focus on home improvement projects. It frees you up for activities that can bring you a much-needed mental break, like spending more face-time with your family and friends, learning new hobbies, or reading a book.

5 Steps to Start Your Digital Detox

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.

1: Write Down Your Hobbies & Interests

Make a list of all the things that 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? Listing out what you’re interested in can serve as motivation to stay off your phone.

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, your smartwatch, gaming device, etc. It might come as a shock just how connected you really are.  (We’ll give you a pass on your E-reader; a good book is never a bad way to spend your time.)

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.4

4: Determine Your Screen Allowance

As we mentioned, there are instances in which you 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 that limits your screen time allowance.

These can help you focus on the moment and quit mindlessly scrolling once you have sent that email or important text message.

5: Get Back to Basics

Think about what you did before the era of smartphones. 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 have to have your phone alarm right next to your bed. It’s going to be a lifestyle change, but it will set the tone for a digital detox, making it easier to disconnect.

While there is more involved when it comes to improving your finances, a digital detox can help. Read these blogs to learn more about financial health:

Take This Advice to Heart: Your Wellness and Wallet Are Linked

Three Steps to Financial Wellness: Maintaining Money Health

Three Things I Wish I Had Learned About Money…But Now Know from Working with Financial Gurus

Understanding & Conquering the Bad Habits That Affects Your Financial Wellness



This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.