Nobody wants to spend most of their hard-earned money on paying monthly expenses and bills. To prevent this situation, one of the things a smart consumer can do is to avoid a hefty phone plan bill.

Bill shock refers to the reaction you get if you get higher phone bills than normal. These days, more people are experiencing bill shock thanks to all the apps and entertainment services available to mobile users.

For instance, you don’t have to get a physical map if you need to navigate an unfamiliar place because you can rely on navigational apps instead; these tell you when to turn right or left, stop, and walk. Another example: Photos were once captured and developed to be displayed in physical photo albums. Today, however, people take photos because they feel the need to upload them on their social media accounts and regularly update their profiles.

This kind of excessive data usage is one main reason for skyrocketing phone bills. In addition, you can also be charged for making calls and sending messages if you go beyond your allowable call minutes and SMS.

Fortunately, the best mobile phone plan providers share many different ways of preventing bill shock. Here are six of them:

1. Be mindful of your billing period and potential extra charges

You must know when your monthly billing begins and ends so you can tell exactly when your monthly text, call, and data allowance replenishes. Also, be mindful of the fee you can be charged with when you go over such an allowance. For instance, you can be changed with every call minute or megabyte you use over your monthly limit.

2. Monitor your usage

Keep track of your SMS messages and call minutes, as well as how much data you are using, on a monthly basis. You can either check your account on your carrier’s website or use a reliable smartphone app. Never ignore the alerts your phone plan provider sends you because you can end up paying substantial extra charges. Other phone plan carriers may even freeze your account if you go over your monthly allowance, meaning you won’t be able to make calls, send messages or even browse the Internet.

Monitoring your monthly usage will also help you in deciding whether to upgrade or downgrade your phone plan. If, for instance, you usually go over your monthly limit, it would be a lot cheaper if you upgrade your plan instead of paying overage charges every month. On the other hand, consider getting a downgrade if you are only using half of your allowable call minutes, data, or SMS.

3. Take advantage of free Wi-Fi hotspots

You can set your mobile phone to automatically connect to reliable Wi-Fi hotspots, such as to your office or home Wi-Fi, to offset your data usage.

As for free Wi-Fi hotspots in public places, you must be cautious by setting it to manual. Remember that connecting to unreliable hotspots will put your personal data and other key information you have on your phone at risk. Hackers can easily see this and may use it negatively. But this risk can significantly be reduced if you have a data protection application like the Kaspersky app in place.

4. Download content beforehand

Streaming music and video is probably one of the best ways to relieve boredom, especially if you are stuck in road traffic. But this can consume plenty of data, so make sure to download or pre-load all the content you need through a Wi-Fi connection before going out. This way, you can still watch a movie or listen to music without consuming data. In addition, maps can also be pre-loaded.

5. Close unnecessary apps and programs

After playing games or checking your social media accounts, apps can still consume a considerable amount of data even when idle. Thus, make sure to close all the programs and apps you previously opened and used before switching to mobile data.

6. Browse only mobile-responsive websites

Mobile-friendly sites will load fast on your smartphone. On the other hand, websites that aren’t mobile responsive will use up a huge amount of your data because of all the website elements that are loading at once.

Prevention is indeed the key to avoiding hefty monthly phone plan bills. So make sure to implement these six tips for preventing bill shock while still enjoying a hassle-free mobile experience.