Today, everyone is looking to save money, whether you are trying to find ways to add more to your savings each month or just pay down debt to avoid a disaster or bankruptcy. Saving on utilities is a major component of personal financial management, and cell phone bills are no exception. Here are a few ways to cut down on this major expense.
Monitor Your Usage
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to cut down your cell phone bill is to use your phone less. Take a look at your usage for the past few months and compare that to your plan. Are you paying for more than you need? If you have an unlimited plan but only use 500 minutes of talk time on average, you may be able to downgrade your plan. Are you paying for unlimited texting but only sending a few texts a month? If so, paying per text may work out to be a less expensive option. Alternatively, if you are consistently paying overages each month, consider upgrading to an unlimited or more comprehensive plan to avoid higher fees.
Also take time to consider if you need a data plan. Most cell phone companies charge a fee for internet and media usage for a smart phone. Consider how often you access the internet with your phone and for what purpose. Do you need your phone for work or is it just for personal use? You may be able to cut out your data package, saving yourself hundreds of dollars a year.
Share Your Plan
Many cell phone companies offer additional lines at reduced costs. Companies including Verizon will often allow customers to add up to five or six additional lines under one contract. Sharing these additional lines with friends or family members who are independent and sharing the total cost of the bill helps everyone save on their total expense.
Some cell phone companies now offer “no contract” plans, meaning you pay a monthly premium for a set number of minutes and data, but are not bound to the company. If you decide not to pay, your phone is deactivated and you owe nothing further. Nextel, Straighttalk Wireless, Virgin Mobile and even major carriers such as T-Mobile offer various monthly use plans. This is often a less expensive option than a contract plan. An unlimited “no-contract” plan is typically less than $50/month and includes talk time, texting and data. These providers also offer an increasingly wide range of popular phones and smart phones.
Again, consider your usage and if applicable, your family’s usage before changing your plan. It’s also important to consider how often you plan to upgrade your phone as “no-contract” plans do not offer free or discounted phones. Phone costs can range from $30 for a basic phone to over $400 for an iPhone. To get the full value, you should plan to keep your phone for at least two years.
Most financial management advisors stress the importance of honing in on the real necessities and reducing extra costs. Cell phone expenses are a major area to consider when performing your own assessment of needs vs. luxuries.