Cell phones are a funny thing. 20 years ago, they barely existed. Now we can’t seem to do anything without them. In fact, in a recent Gallup poll, 46 percent of people agreed with the statement “I can’t imagine my life without my smartphone”. Wow ….
While cell phones arguably do a great deal to entertain us and make our lives easier, the price that comes along with owning one certainly does not.
Paying $100-$200 per month for a proper cell phone plan with the right amount of talk and data has unfortunately become the norm.
This is really sad because with the median incomes in the US barely moving over the past few decades, an expense as great as this one can really drain your monthly budget.
Then talk about keeping up with the Joneses! There’s so much pressure to get the latest $700+ gadget even though you’ve already got one that works perfectly fine.
With all of this said, let’s look at 19 creative ways that you could be saving more money on your cell phone bill every month.
1. Simple: Don’t get one.
If you’re getting a cell phone because you want to talk to people and stay in touch, then know that you’ve got lots of choices. Communication has evolved well behind using a telephone. You can make as many calls as you want for free using Wi-Fi on your iPad, iPod, etc.
2. Consider pre-paid.
If your goal is to have a cell phone in case of emergencies, then consider a pre-paid option. The phones are a whole lot cheaper and you can completely avoid paying monthly fees.
3. Use WiFi instead of a data plan.
Everyone needs more data these days. With videos, photos, and Internet browsing, we all use a TON of data! But the plans are still quite pricey. To cut down on how much data you need in your plan, always use your home or free Wi-Fi instead of your data package. If you’ve got dead spots in the house where your Wi-Fi is weak, a Wi-Fi extender will make a world of difference. We bought one for less than $50 on Amazon, and it was a game changer!
4. Pick a plan that is realistic for your needs.
Unlimited cell phone packages cost a ton, and this is why smaller packages can look far more attractive. But be careful! If you go too low, you’ll end up paying a whole lot extra if you exceed your limits.
5. Know your limits.
To avoid paying more than you have to, make yourself and anyone else on your cell phone plan aware of when you’re about to reach your limits. Most providers will text you if you get too close.
6. Avoid contracts.
With all the competition out there to get your business, there’s no reason to “lock-in” to any one plan for 24 months. Keep yourself free to shop around so that you can always go for better deals.
7. Renegotiate your plan once per year.
New cell phone plan deals are constantly being advertised. On top of that, most providers will offer to “match” another competitor just to keep your business. At least once a year, call up your provider and see if there’s a better offer that you can transition into.
8. Use your affiliations.
Do you belong to a local credit union? Are you an educator, student, or senior? Use whatever affiliations or connections you have to get a discount.
9. Bundle your services.
For some companies like AT&T or Verizon, because they also offer home services, if you bundle your cell phone with their other offers, you might score another discount.
10. Skip buying the latest phone.
iPhone 5, iPhone 6, iPhone 7 … where does it end?? Buck the trend and resist the social urge to always have the latest and greatest cell phone. Chances are that iPhone 4 or 5 you still have works just fine and gets the job done. And best of all, like a used car, it’s probably already paid off!
11. Buy refurbished or last year’s model.
If you really want something new without spending full retail price, wait until its been out for a year or two, and then start looking for the deals. Sprint one time had a “buy one get one free” deal on cell phones, and the timing worked out perfectly with my two kids. Instead of spending $700+ on each kid, they each effectively got a brand new phone for half that price.
12. Skip buying second-hand.
I’d love to tell you that buying cell phones off of Ebay or Groupon works well. But I still have yet to hear that this strategy works well for people. Tread carefully.
13. Don’t lease your phone.
Leasing a phone is designed to keep you making a monthly payment for the rest of your life. Just like leasing your car, you’ll spend a whole bunch of money with nothing to show for it in the end. Even though the payments may be slightly less, don’t choose the leasing option.
14. Skip the insurance coverage.
Having some sort of coverage on your phone in case you drop your phone, break the screen, or lose your phone altogether might sound worth it. But crunch those numbers and you’ll soon find out you’ll be shelling out a lot more money than you need to. In fact, you could literally buy a whole other phone for the prices they charge!
15. Protect your phone.
Okay, you’re going to take my advice and skip the insurance coverage? Good. Now go get a nice phone case and screen protector or for your phone. It’s the best protection you have against accidental damage.
16. Buy phone cases and screen protectors on Amazon.
I’ve seen phone cases for $60+ and screen protectors for $30+ at the phone store. That’s WAY too much! Do yourself a favor and hop on Amazon. You’ll find a ton of much cheaper options.
17. Buy your headphones and chargers from Amazon too.
Did mention that part of the “Amazon Basics” line is cheap cell phone chargers and headphones? Again, skip paying those ridiculous retail prices.
18. Skip apps that cost money.
There is almost always a free version of just about an app that will work just fine.
19. Avoid toll-free and 4-1-1 calls.
You’ve been warned: They are not free from your cell phone.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr