You’re thinking of upgrading your phone (again), but maybe you aren’t so hot on the idea of slowly handing over thousands of dollars to your cell carrier for the next two years. Don’t settle for the status quo when there are tons of options for frugal buyers. Take advantage of any and all of the following tips for managing your monster cell phone bill, and learn how easy it is to prevent the phone companies from pillaging your bank account every month.
Determine What You Really Pay for
Cell phone providers are slick when it comes to packaging in a ton of extras with your base call, text, and data plans. For example, some carriers offer a subscription-based navigation app – but why would you need that with so many free options available?
Look at your bill, and find out what extras might be lurking inside, eating up your money. The amount of extra charges and fees can sometimes be up to half of your total cell phone bill.
Research the Right Plan
People usually fall for the “unlimited” plan whether they need it or not. If your typical daily phone use consists of checking your email a couple times, you’re wasting money. If you communicate solely through texts, you’re wasting money. And, if you only use it to play games half the time, you’re wasting money.
Nearly every carrier offers scaled-back plans that cost much less than the premium service packages. Keep track of your daily usage and compare it to your plan. If you see a big discrepancy anywhere, it’s time to make a change.
Quit Your Data Addiction
Unless you stream videos all day at work or download app updates without a wifi connection, you’re paying too much for data. Odds are, you can cut back at least a little. Of course, cell companies do their homework, and they know how to structure data tiers to make the most money from consumers. They’re meant to make the buyer think, “Maybe I do need more data.”
If you have wifi at home and at work, try switching to a lower-tier data plan and watch the dollars melt off your monthly bill. For those in larger cities, the abundance of wifi hotspots makes dropping the data even easier.
Stop Paying for Your Phone Up Front
Buying a new phone is exciting, and carriers rely on this enthusiasm to blunt the impact of their cost. Sure, they subsidize new phones, making it affordable to buy a new iPhone every year – but at the cost of much higher monthly payments over your typical two-year contract.
If you can afford the small fortune modern smart phones have become, take the plunge and save money in the long run. It’s a steep immediate cost for delayed gratification, but can also be significant.
In Fact, Forget Contracts Altogether
It’s pretty tough to spend too much on your cell phone bill when you’re the one calling the shots. Prepaid carriers have really upped their game in recent years, and it’s possible to get great deals on smart phones and various plans.
Going prepaid lets you choose how many minutes and texts are available every month, plus how much mobile data you get. It’s a great choice for people with good self-control or planning skills.
Break Up With Your Carrier
Sometimes even the best relationship/legally-binding arrangement go sour. If you’re less than pleased with your current contract, let your mobile carrier know. It costs more money to lose a customer than it does to give one a break.
Even if you don’t plan on leaving, it’s still possible to get a discount. Don’t be afraid to bring up that you’ve been a long-time customer and always make payments. You may be surprised at what they can do for you.
You Probably Don’t Need a Texting Plan
Dozens of free texting and instant-messaging apps are out there for all smart phones. Apps like Viber and Whatsapp use a tiny amount of data to send a text instead of your cellular network. Or, use wifi instead of your carrier’s data plan, and send messages instantly for free.
These apps have really blossomed over the years, to the point where many offer the ability to send doodles, videos, stickers, and more. Try one for free before you make the switch, and find out what it’s like to send a text that isn’t a text.
So, what About Calling Plans?
Once you’ve made the switch to a low-data, text-free plan, the next logical step is to drop your calling plan – yes, you heard correctly. Unless you make multiple phone calls every day, typical usage trends indicate most people communicate more and more through text messages.
Though phone calls may never become obsolete, services like Skype and Google Talk provide multiple avenues of using a data connection to make and receive phone calls. If you’ve already committed to cutting back on texts, using wifi or a cheaper data plan to place phone calls is a safe bet.
Take a Look at a “Dumb” Phone
People without less robust needs shouldn’t even pay attention to the smart phone revolution, anyway. Don’t let the shiny screens and billion-dollar marketing campaigns trick you – nobody needs a smart phone. Opting to buy a more traditional phone with basic calling and text features can save you a ton of money. Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but there are plenty of ways to cut back on your bill.