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Are You Spending More By Paying With Your Smartphone?

It’s easier than ever to pay for the items you need and want. By paying with your smartphone using apps like Paypal, Venmo, Apple Pay and Google Wallet, you no longer have to whip out cash or our credit card for a cup of coffee or even an entire cart of groceries.

Instead, you can just show our smartphone at the register or key in the details into an app to pay back a friend for our half of the lunch bill. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, mobile online retail payments will grow from around $180 billion in 2016 to a forecasted $410.5 billion in 2020.

And now a new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finds that you might be spending more money when you forgo the debit or credit card and choose paying with your smartphone instead. Researchers found that consumers spend more, especially on small-ticket items such as drinks or movie tickets, when they use mobile payments.

“Switching to the mobile channel leads to more shopping overall, and it particularly affects more hedonistic shopping such as food, entertainment and travel,” said Yuqian Xu, a professor of business administration, in a news release about the study.

Mobile app payment use will only grow going forward, and that means consumers need to come up with new strategies to ensure they aren’t overspending, regardless of how they’re paying for that movie ticket or latte.

Here are some tips to ensure you aren’t overspending when paying with your smartphone:

Track your spending

Whether paying with your credit card, cash or a mobile app, you need to track your spending. You can use an old-fashioned spreadsheet to do this or download a handy app. Whatever you do, it’s critical that you stay consistent, so you can be sure you don’t spend too much.

Stick to a budget

Regardless of how you spend your money -- with cash, a credit card or a mobile app -- your budget and the amount of money you have to spend doesn’t change. So, before you reach for your smartphone to pay for that smoothie or lunch out, make sure that the expense is covered in your budget.

Watch those little expenses

A $3 coffee might not seem like a huge expense, but over the course of a week and a month, it can add up. In fact, in a year, a daily $3 coffee will add up to a whopping $1,095. If you can afford a daily coffee, great. But if you’re struggling financially, be mindful of your spending habits and make changes where needed.

Avoid impulse buys

When you go out, make a plan and stick to it. If you’re craving a treat, find free ways at home to reward yourself instead of splurging on goodies elsewhere. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Make some homemade cookies with your kids. Cuddle up on the couch with a good book or movie.

Whatever you do, be mindful of the money you are spending when you’re paying with your smartphone and find a way to ensure they don’t become a burden on your finances.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. ​Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.


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