You remember way back, maybe 10 years ago, when your cell phone pretty much just made phone calls? Back before the smartphone existed?
Or go back 10 more years, when “cell phones” were massive contraptions you had to plug into the cigarette outlet of your car?
These days, cell phones are much smaller and much more convenient. They do everything other than wash your laundry and put gas in your car—and they’ll probably figure out how to do that soon.
But all that cool technology comes with a price. And just because you can afford the monthly bill doesn’t mean that you can’t look for ways to cut costs and save money.
So if you’re looking for ways to cut back on your cell phone bill, we offer the following ideas:
Use a Wi-Fi connection whenever you can, especially at home or work. Data overages can pile up quickly, so you want to make sure you stay within your monthly limit by only using 3G or 4G/LTE when you need it.
Cut the insurance.
Insurance for your cell phone? No way. If you truly need “insurance” for your cell phone, then you’ve bought a cell phone that you can’t afford. In other words, if you don’t have the cash available to replace your phone if something happens to it, then your phone is too expensive for your budget.
When you’re in the market for a new phone,don’t just assume you can’t talk down the price. Go to the store and talk with a salesperson to see if you can get the activation fee or upgrade fee waived. If you’ve been a customer for a long time, then be sure to bring that up. Use whatever leverage you have, including fees—or the lack of fees—from competitors.
Buy out-of-contract phones.
Cell phone companies know how to make money, lots and lots of money. One way they do that is through contracts. To buy their phone, you’ll have to sign a two-year contract to use that company’s services. If you attempt to switch carriers, you’ll get hit with a ridiculous cancelation charge. So what do you do? Buy out-of-contract, gently used phones. Ask around. Look online. No, you won’t be able to get the hottest, newest smartphone this way,but you can get a really good smartphone without locking yourself into one company for years to come.
Cut out the stuff you don’t use.
This might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t even look at their cell phone bill. They continue paying for things they never use, like emergency roadside assistance, 411, and “enhanced voicemail.” Sit down, look long and hard at your phone bill, and determine if you really need everything that’s listed on it.
Add up long-term costs before you buy. If you’re shopping carriers, you should add up the cost of the phone plus the cost of the service for the life of the contract. That puts the total amount in your face, instead of just the month-to-month payments. As we often say when we talk about car shopping, “Rich people ask how much. Poor people ask how much down and how much per month.”