Consumers Spending More On Gadgets, Services

Online-Shopping-IpadMore than 40% of Americans download and pay for digital content, and they’re spending more money on them than they ever have.

“It goes all over the place,” Jordin Amin, chair of the AICPA’s national CPA financial literacy, tells Marketing Daily. “One of the concerns we have is that it’s very easy to make these purchases without a budget or an overall financial plan.”

According to a phone poll of more than 1,000 adults, the average monthly bill for cable TV, home Internet, mobile phone and digital subscriptions (such as satellite radio or streaming video) is $166, equivalent to about 17% of their monthly mortgage or rent payment. Downloading songs, apps and other products accounts for an additional $38 a month. 

“Spending on these services and these products is going to be an increasing part of our lives,” Amin says. “As we continue [into the future], there’s going to be more things that are co-mingled [among devices], and consumers are going to increase their spending. It’s important to set up good habits now.”

Among Amin’s recommendations were to tie in app and other purchases to a specific credit card (preferably one with a low limit) to more easily monitor purchases, to conduct regular audits of purchases and usage to ensure consumers aren’t paying for services that they aren’t using, and to include digital content purchases as a line item on their household budgets.

Consumers also said that all these technological improvements (including smartphones and tablets) have made it easier to spend money than to save it. According to the survey, 56% said it was easier to spend money, while 3% said it was easier to save. Thirty-seven percent were split on the issue.  

“One of the things we’d like to focus on is that tech is a way that can help people save, and they need to be aware of that,” Amin says.  

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