Today is the beginning of the end, my friends. Verizon, our last hope in the battle for unlimited mobile bandwidth, has turned their backs on us. Some of us are in shock. Some say they aren’t surprised, that there were signs, namely them announcing this months ago. Still, it doesn’t matter, we’re all in the same data boat now – and it’s rapidly sinking.

Well, not for all of us. If you’re already in a contract with Verizon (like myself), then you still get to abuse data until you sign anew. That doesn’t exactly mean you have all the time left on your current contract – remember, you also sign a new agreement when you get your upgrade through them.

Kicking the Data Bucket

And if you are one of the unlucky souls saddled with one of these limited plans? You have four options: $10 for 75MB, $30 for 2GB, $50 for 5GB, and $80 for 10GB. If you go over your plan, you get charged $10/GB. If you’re someone who uses a lot of data, that can easily add up to a hefty phone bill.

To Verizon’s credit, that is a wide range of plans and chances are you can find something that will suit you. But my gut tells me that most people will underestimate just how much they use and end up accruing some serious charges.

Be Prepared

Needless to say, you need to start curbing your data usage, lest you end up in the poorhouse. You might get lucky and learn that you really don’t use that much to begin with. Or, you might be a bandwidth hog about to get a serious wake up call. Now, there are two things you need to do.

Track Your Data

The first is to start monitoring your data usage, immediately. Even if you’re an existing user still enjoying unlimited bandwidth, figuring out how you can use less right now will help make the transition easier when it comes – and it will come.

There are multiple ways to do this. You can look at your past bills to see what you’ve used in the past. You can dial #DATA + SEND from your phone or log into My Verizon and see it there. However, these methods don’t work for me. I share a family plan with a group of friends and I don’t have access to the bills. That’s probably for the best, but it means I have to look elsewhere for my data usage. That’s not a problem, because there is another solution.

There are countless data usage monitoring apps that track your data in all manner of detailed ways. In my opinion, this is the way to go.

Find the Bandwidth Hogs

These two steps go hand in hand, obviously. In addition to tracking your data, you’ll want to find out exactly how you use most of it. Right off the bat, I can tell you that my beloved Netflix sucks up hundreds of megabytes an hour, even at low resolution. If you’re able to stream HD content, you could be using up gigabytes every hour. Limit yourself. And while it isn’t nearly as damaging as video, the same applies to streaming music.

But the scariest bandwidth hog is the one that you don’t even know about. There’s a good chance that your phone is loaded with applications, many that you don’t even use anymore, and those applications could be updating, downloading, or using data in a different way, all in the background without you knowing. Now is a good time to go through your collection and get rid of anything you don’t use.

Stay strong, my friends. We can brave the winter of limited data plans.

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