Nielsen, the global information and ratings company, estimated that the average U.S. smartphone owner used 733 megabytes of data per month in Q1 2013. Verizon told the Wall Street Journal that 90 percent of its customers stay within the range of its $60 per month two gigabyte plan without going over the threshold.

Android and iPhone users who use their phones to update Facebook and Twitter, check emails, and browse the web generally will not exceed 1 gigabyte of data per month. But there’s always that chance you become ensconced with a one hour video that happens to be in high definition, and get a rude awakening on your next bill. Here are three tips to help you avoid going over your data cap.

Change Your Phone Settings

Though it’s a bit tedious, you can program nearly every smartphone to shut down when a given data limit is reached. The Samsung Galaxy, which according to Business Insider has now sold more than 200 million units since its 2010 launch, is one of the easier smartphones to set data limits on.

Go to “settings” and select “data usage.” Place a checkmark by both the plan you are using and the “set data limit” option from the list provided. Make sure that the billing date range matches what your bill says.

Drag the red data line to a number just below the cap for each month. You will no longer be able to access the Internet (without Wi-Fi) once you reach this limit. The orange line can be dragged just below the red line, and will give you a warning when you’re approaching the limit.

Selectively Disable Apps

A handy feature in iOS 7 allows you to restrict certain apps so they can only connect using Wi-Fi. It is especially useful if you are an avid gamer since those apps notoriously suck down data like 1980s eight-cylinder cargo vans.

Open the Setting app and select “Cellular.” This will bring up the “use Cellular Network Data For:” screen, which lists all your apps. There is a toggle switch to the right of each one. Simply switch it to the “off” position to prevent that app from using your monthly data allowance.

Block Ads

Not only are ads irritable, but they also support most free gaming apps. This means even when you’re playing a game that otherwise doesn’t require an Internet connection, the app still needs to connect to the Internet to display the advertisements. Blocking these data-sucking annoyances can save you several megabytes in data every month.

The easiest way to do this is by upgrading your free apps to the paid versions so the ads don’t display. The other way is to download one of several ad-blocking apps. AdBlock Plus is one option for Android. AdAway and NoRoot Ad-Remover Lite are two others to consider. Weblock and Adblock are two options for iPhones.

~ Dorothy Morgan