The popular new “free” app Pokémon Go has just as many kids and adults excited as rolling their eyes. Some see it as a harmless new obsession that gets people active and engaging with the outdoors (while still staring at their phones, of course). Others point out that it encourages people to do stupid things like drive while playing the game, trespass, fall into ditches, or even walk into traffic.

Regardless of which of these camps you fall into, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: the game and the potential for participants to waste money. Here are four ways this happens.

Data Usage

According to the app’s makers, the game draws anywhere from 2 MB to 10 MB of data per hour. If you’re not familiar with data usage, that’s a lot! The main draw on data is the game’s GPS location tracking — a key requirement for coordinating players’ actual location with the presence of virtual Pokémon, Pokéstops, etc. If you don’t have an unlimited data plan, you or your kids’ new Pokémon habit could land you with hefty overage charges. Of course, there are ways to avoid this:

  • Limit play to areas with Wi-Fi
  • Set a data limit or data alerts on you and your kids’ phones
  • Limit your playing time without a Wi-Fi connection to only a couple hours a day at the maximum
  • Upgrade your data plan to avoid overage charges
  • Limit or drop other data-sucking apps so you’ll have more to use on Pokémon Go

In-App Purchases

This is a money-waster gamers are familiar with. Sure, the game is free, but there’s always the lure of paid items that improve your performance or just make your character look cooler. These range anywhere from a few dollars to $20 a pop, and the game makes it “convenient” to pay for them with a linked card. Boom — the game is no longer free. If you want to spend the money and make room in your discretionary spending for it, that’s your choice. If you’d otherwise be spending money on more expensive games, movies or entertainment, the little you spend on Pokémon Go might make it a cheaper hobby for you. The point is to be aware of what you’re spending — even a few dollars at a time adds up.

“Purchase-Required” Pokéstops

Businesses have been capitalizing on the way Pokémon-hunting is increasing traffic into their stores and restaurants. Some actually pay a fee to create a ‘lure’ that draws players in for a set amount of time, while others are putting up signs that say “their” Pokémon are only available for paying customers. Businesses might be making money off Pokémon this way, but not the people paying for snacks, food and other services just to catch a rare critter. Again, pay attention to what you and your kids are spending, and limit purchase-required Pokéstops.

Home/Business Liability Insurance Premiums

This last one might surprise you, but it’s a real concern for those who don’t play the game. Many home owners and business owners have complained about increased traffic on their property and concerns that someone will get hurt. Even if it’s not your fault if someone wanders into your yard and gets hurt, any claim could influence your liability insurance premiums. There’s no guarantee intent Pokémon players will notice, but it can’t hurt to pull out those “no trespassing” signs. While you’re at it, fix the fence, lock the gate, and make your yard as safe for blind wanders as possible.

Pokémon Go comes with positives and negatives, just like any other cultural craze. In time it will pass, but meanwhile, watch these four areas to make sure it’s not wasting your money.

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