Let’s see how much we spend on cell phones. I have a $39.99 plan along with a $15 per month data plan for my iPhone. SMB has a un-smart 🙂 phone which is $39.99 per month. With discounts, taxes, service charges, we pay $110 per month.
Some months the charges get higher. Let’s look at the common causes of higher than normal charge.
1. Data charges when SMB checks her email etc from outside of Wi-Fi area, cost is $1 for up to 1 MB of data. This is frustrating, as when you click on your email icon, even if accidentally, you are slapped with a $1 fee.
2. Cost for test messages. We do not have text plans (which costs $5 per month) rather, we pay for per-use. For At&T it’s 20 cents per text, you receive or you send. That means when you send a text message and get a reply, phone company earn 80 cents, 40 cents from each of the parties.
3. Going over free talk time. It happened only once, few years back when I was frantically taking interviews for a new job. I went over the free minutes (400 minutes in our case) and paid hefty penalty. I was still new to the country, didn’t know I could have some respite by asking her to reduce penalty.
4. While upgrading. While ordering upgrade. Especially my iPhone, costs money upfront towards the hardware.
How should you start lowering your cell phone bill?
With the above points in mind. We will see how can we reduce cell phone bills. When you add up your monthly charges, for me, it becomes $1,320 per year. It’s a huge cost for talking.
Choose right plan
The first thing that one should consider first when the cell phone bills are high is finding the right plan. if you are not using all your free minutes, consider switching to a plan with lower free minutes. For the months you run a risk of over talking, use Skype or other internet based phones when you are at home, leaving cell phone used only when you are outdoor.
Consider family plan
You can consider the family plan even if you don’t have a family, because it allows you to have additional phones, numerous minutes of talk time as well as cheaper rates. One good thing about these cheap plans is that a call to phone on same network is free. A family plan with your friends or siblings or even your parents can save you a lot of money.
Get a text plan or don’t text
If you are one of those key-board happy newer generation rep., who texts and texts, get a text plan! Else, stop texting. Don’t let some one else get richer because you love to talk. We text when it’s absolutely necessary. We never go beyond $2 a month in text charges. So, we don’t need $5 per month unlimited text plan.
Talk when its free
Calls to same carrier phones are free. Calls during late night are free, calls on week ends are free. You may not need to go over your free minutes every month if you plan your call schedule accordingly. You can even consider opting for a lower plan.
Shed the extra
Shedding the extras should result in lesser cell phone bills. Although many people do not realize that they do not use those for free, but in the real sense, they are charged for such services as call waiting, call-on-hold, caller id, call forwarding and three-way calling. There are many more, depending on your carrier.
These are hidden fees disguised as added service. Since they usually small charges, it’s hard to detect on your billing statement. When accumulated they make up a bigger cost. If you do not recognize a charge, call your provider and take appropriate steps.
Don’t pay for data pan
Honestly, where you access internet? These days free wi-fi is available at many places and the options are on the rise. Get rid of the data plan if you can. I can’t as my iPhone seems to be only medium between me and my blog when I am at work. I use the iPhone to edit comments, email ad seekers, tweet my posts. If I stop paying this $15, I would start losing few hundreds. See, if you are in the same boat as me. If you’re not, drop it.
Ring tones rings money
Downloading ringtones as well as music has great impact on the monthly fees but they are normally almost hidden. We don’t download ring tones.
Tracfone is my latest favorite and did a quick research on it. Below is an excerpt of a user review on Amazon.
Prior to purchasing the Tracfone, I was on Verizon and paying nearly $45 per month for 400 minutes. I looked back 1 year and found that the most I ever used was 50 minutes for a month. I decided to try the Tracfone. I switched my Verizon number to my new phone and have had it for over a year and I love it. Just yesterday I bought the 1 year/400 minutes card, put the 15 digit numbers in on Tracfone’s site and within seconds I got a text message saying the minutes were added to my phone. Since I have the double minutes for life, it gave me 800 minutes and 365 days to use them. All this was added to what I already had on the phone. With Verizon, if you don’t use your minutes, they’re gone. With Tracfone, unused minutes carry over to the next expiration date. You can text and use the web, just like other phones too.
We travel quite a bit and I have never lost service and it sounds as good as my Verizon phone did. So basically I have just as good phone service for $100 a year instead of $540 a year, just not as many minutes. If you figure it out, it comes out to about 67 minutes per month and 8 cents per minute.
Pay as you go, which we took advantage of. SMB had this phone until recently. We refilled $10 every month with a $45 Nokia phone as an up front cost. Now that she started going out a bit on voluntary work and especially since she’ll be taking up jobs now, a pay-as-you-go phone would cost us more money than a regular plan phone. So we took a family phone plan instead.
This was the main reason behind taking this post up today. A colleague of mine recently made a huge profit on cell phone upgrade. She had an iPhone which was due for upgrade. She put her old cell phone on Craigslist as soon as her new phone got activated. One year old iPhone fetched her $300. Which in essence, $101 in profit, if we consider $199 new phone charge from AT&T for the upgrade.
Is it ethical practice? Can every one do this without breaking law? Haven’t seen the contract fine print, that might have some clause preventing selling the old equipment. If it’s allowed by law and contract, we can do it, right?
Our phones would be eligible for upgrades pretty soon, and we are checking AT&T account every week. I’ll have to read the fine prints now.
What other tactics you can adopt to save on your cell phone bills? I am particularly interested in knowing if you have fully eliminated cell phone from your life. Do you, by any chance, use the no-contract plans? Tell us more.
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