Having a cell phone these days is much more like having a tiny computer in your pocket than it is for actually making phone calls. As cell phones get more and more powerful, monthly cell phone bills seem to be climbing higher and higher. But there’s a great opportunity to save money just by taking a look at your cell phone bill and make a few simple adjustments.
Get Rid of the Extras
Sometimes it seems like you need an interpreter or special certification to understand exactly what your cell phone bill is saying. But pressing on is the only way to make sure that you aren’t paying for things that you don’t need. For instance, mobile insurance, GPS service, roadside assistance and other amenities may be included in your cell phone bill without you being aware of it. You may have signed up for it at one point for a trial period, but the freebie stopped and you kept paying. Whatever the case, take a look at these extras and determine whether you want or need them, and then cut them out to save cash.
Verizon Wireless Extras Costs:
Roadside Assistance = $3/month for each line enrolled on the plan
Total Mobile Protection (Up to 3 devices with per-incident deductible) = $33/month
Family Base (Monitor phone activity) = $4.99/month per account
Family Locator = $9.99/month per account for up to 10 phones
Visual Voicemail = $2.99/month per phone
Bottom Line: Save between $3 and $33 per month just by dropping one service per month, depending on which services you are using.
Watch Your Minutes
Chatty much? That’s okay! But you may need be more careful when talking to your grandma so that you don’t have to pay for additional cell phone minutes. You can typically set up notifications with your carrier to notify you when you are getting close to overages. Or, a free service, www.overmyminutes.com , offers a text message or email notification service as you come close to running out of minutes. Then you can hang up. Grandma will understand, won’t she?
Bottom Line: Save $5 to $20 or more depending on how many extra minutes you usually use.
Get the 4-1-1 a Different Way
One of the most expensive services you can possibly use to get information that is readily available for free in so many other places. If you have Wi-Fi, look up the number you need on the internet. If not, call 1-800-GOOG-411 and you’ll access Google’s free service for information. Or try 1-800-FREE-411. No way should you pay up to $1 or more each time you need info!
Bottom Line: Save $4 or more per month if you use 4-1-1 just once a week.
Rather than paying for a monthly texting plan or a per-text fee, consider getting a texting app (for free!) that will allow you to text with anyone as long as you have Wi-Fi access. WhatsApp, GroupMe, and Nimbuzz are just a few of the texting apps that will offer you texting services, and Instant Messaging is also available through Facebook, Instagram, or other services.
Bottom Line: Save between $5 and $20 per month just by not paying for texts.
Although the big guns such as Verizon, AT&T Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile often provide attractive incentives, they certainly are not the only mobile carriers that can offer great service. Boost Mobile and US Cellular are smaller carriers that may be able to offer significantly lower prices on your monthly cost.
Even between those big 4 carriers, you might save by switching. As you can see from the table below, T-Mobile consistently offers lower prices for individual and shared plans (although an individual on Sprint will get more data). A family of 4 could save $60 per month by switching from AT&T to T-Mobile. That’s $720 per year. Comparing pays off!
|2GB-1 phone||2GB-2 phones||2GB-4 phones|
|AT&T Next Mobile Share||$55||$100 (with 2.5GB)||$160 (with 3.75GB)|
|Sprint Unlimited||$50 (with 3GB)||$85 (with 3GB)||$140 (with 3GB)|
|T-Mobile Simple Choice||$50||$80||$100|
|Verizon Simple Plans||$55||$90 (with 3GB)||$150|
Bottom Line: Save $60 per month or more by switching carriers.
Drop Your Contract
If you own your phone, are willing to buy one outright, and don’t feel the need get a brand new phone every time a new model is released, going contract-free may be the best for you. Buying a cell phone over a two year contract can cost you $150+ more than what it would cost to buy the phone outright for the exact same device. AND, the company owns you for those two years. Instead, own your phone with no strings, and change carriers whenever you want.
Bottom Line: Save up to $150 over the life of a contract by purchasing your phone outright.
Go Data Free
One of the best ways to save dough is by relying completely on Wi-Fi. If you live in a large city where you can pick up free internet at places you frequent, possibly even on public transport, then you probably just don’t really need that data. Test yourself by planning out your days based on where you can access Wi-Fi and determining if you really need to access Instagram from the doctor’s office waiting room. Cutting out your data plan altogether could save you upwards of $50 or even more per month.
Bottom line: Save between $20 and $50 per month or even more by going without data altogether.
Squeeze That Data
If you do still need your data, an App for Android and iPhone is available for free from Onavo and may be very useful for minimizing the cost of your data. Onavo Extend routes all of your data through the company’s servers, removing the extras, and claiming to increase the efficiency of you data usage by up to five times its normal rate. There may be some question about privacy when using this service, as this gives Onavo access to your data. But you don’t have anything to hide anyway, right?
Bottom Line: Save between $10 to $15 per month or more.
Limit Your Data Usage
Although a completely Wi-Fi-dependent data plan is the cheapest way to go, you may sometimes find yourself out and about in need of data without having access to Wi-Fi. But if you can wait to use the internet until you are in Wi-Fi-friendly places, you can save big bucks each month.
Republic Wireless is a genius at this. They offer plans that give unlimited talk and text, and that seek out Wi-Fi whenever it can be found. Comparing one phone on a 2GB data plan from Verizon vs. a 2GB plan with Republic will save you approximately $35 each month.
But if you choose to stick with your carrier and lower your data usage, here’s what you could save with 2 phones sharing data
Bottom Line: This can save you between $20 and $50 per month (that’s $240 to $600 per year!) just by dropping 3GB of data.
Not just for burner phones anymore, pre-paid plans can actually be pretty useful if you are the kind of person who doesn’t really use your cell phone very much. You pay for your service ahead of time, choosing a package that contains certain numbers of minutes, texts, and data, (many plans have unlimited texts and calling) with the option to add on more if you run out before the end of the month. And typically, incoming calls and texts are free as well. This is a great way to function on a budget and keep a tight control on your cell phone spending.
Bottom Line: Save up to $40 per month over a standard contract plan.
Get Slightly Less Smart
Okay, your smartphone may have possibly become an extension of your arm, but ask yourself this question: do you really need it? Really? Consider how much time you actually use it as a phone. Could you possibly get by with just a “dumb” phone for calls and then keep a smart device around (iPad, iPod Touch) connected to Wi-Fi when you need to access the internet, email, apps, etc.
Bottom Line: Save up to $50 per month from a smartphone data plan.
Go Completely Phoneless
There may be some question about whether or not it is even legal to go without a phone. It is. Use the internet access that you already pay for at home to go with VoIP (Voice-Over-IP) options such as Skype, Google Voice, Fring, or even Facebook to make your calls. Sure, you can’t make calls on the go, but really, how often is that necessary? You might even like being less accessible to the world for a change!
Bottom Line: Save up to $40 a month or more, depending on the cost of your plan.