How Much Do Americans Spend on Internet, Streaming, and Cell Phone Service?
Americans spend as much as $107,066 over their lifetimes staying connected with internet, streaming, and mobile services.
During the average lifespan of 78.5 years, Americans will pay $41,591 on internet, $36,445 on cell phone plans, and $29,030 on streaming services.
These costs assume Americans start paying for these services at age 18. These figures don’t include cable or satellite TV subscriptions or the price of devices like cell phones, tablets, or computers. (Imagine what it costs after you add up all your new iPhones and all their accessories.)
Average American monthly telecommunications costs:
- Internet services: $57.25 per month
- Cell phone plans: $50.17 per month
- Streaming services: $39.96 per month
- Total: $147.38 per month
According to statistics from the US Bureau of Labor, the median American wage is just over $1,000 a week.1 For about $37 a week, you’re paying for things you need (especially during the pandemic) to stay connected.
But just because you may be able to afford those costs doesn’t mean you can’t cut down your monthly expenses. Even a little bit adds up to a lot over time.
We’ll give you some tips on how you can reduce your monthly payments.
The monthly, yearly, and lifetime costs of internet
We use the internet to work, go to school, get information, and socialize—it’s unlikely you’ll be able to cut it out completely. Looking at your local internet service providers to find a better deal may be the easiest way to save on your monthly costs.
Another way to lower your internet bill while sticking with the same provider is to switch to a plan with lower speeds or less data. You may have bought more than you need initially.
The monthly, yearly, and lifetime costs of streaming
Streaming services costs can add up because you may think, “Oh, it’s just another $10 a month.” But instead of adding a new streaming service just to watch a show or two, think about switching off another service to make up for it. How many endless libraries do you really need?
Even canceling one $10-per-month streaming service adds up to saving $7,253 over your lifetime. Or you could always sign up for a free streaming service (remember you’ll still have to pay for either internet or mobile to watch anything online).
The monthly, yearly, and lifetime costs of cell phone bills
People may think upgrading to the newest iPhones is what breaks the bank (it definitely can), but do you feel like you’re paying the right price for your cell phone plans?
Combined costs for internet, streaming, and cell phones
In the modern world, most people view internet and cell phone service as a necessity. Streaming services fall into the realm of entertainment, but they can also be tools for staying connected to society—and you can even squeeze out some good educational material too.
Seeing your costs added up over time may make you feel overwhelmed, but you can find ways of lowering your bills every month. It’s worth digging a little deeper into your budget and evaluating what you can afford and where you can cut costs.
To calculate the lifetime cost of being connected, we used the most recent pricing data available to determine the average monthly cost of internet, streaming, and cell phone bills.
We determined the average internet price by analyzing monthly internet plan pricing from providers across the United States.
To determine the average monthly cell phone bill, we sourced pricing data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Finally, to determine the average monthly cost of streaming, we surveyed 316,174 Americans to determine the median amount of streaming services the average person subscribes to. The median number of subscribed streaming services is four. We then used additional data from our survey to determine the four most popular streaming services and determined the total monthly cost using standard pricing for each of these services.
We then scaled the average monthly cost of each of these services to determine how much, on average, Americans will spend on these services in a year and throughout their lifetime. Life expectancy was sourced from the World Health Organization.
All figures are in US dollars.
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Average Hourly and Weekly Earnings of All Employees on Private Nonfarm Payrolls by Industry Sector, Seasonally Adjusted.” Accessed January 5, 2020.