Everyone has a cell phone – and if you don’t, you are definitely behind the times. Years ago, people started ditching their landlines in place of their mobile lines to save money and be able to talk anywhere, any time. Or, that was the idea, anyway. But now, with only a handful of major companies handling mobile service, prices are creeping up and you may be spending more on your phone every month than you hope. than you expect. If that’s the case, something’s got to change.
If your cell phone payments are getting out of hand, here’s how to keep your plan within budget.
1. Know Your Usage
Cell phone bills vary depending on the type of phone, the carrier and the monthly plan. To keep your cell phone bill within reason, you need to have a clear understanding of your monthly usage.
Before signing up for a new plan, take a look at previous cell phone bills to get an idea how much data and voice minutes you average each month. This will help you determine the most cost-effective plan. You don’t want a plan offering more data and minutes than you need or one that fails to meet your needs, which could result in paying a ton of overage fees.
2. Skip the Contract
Signing a new cell phone contract can help you score the latest phones for less, but it’ll also cost more on a monthly basis. Off-contract services, however, are typically cheaper and perfect for those looking to save. Just remember: when you skip the contract, carriers won’t subsidize the cost of your phone, so you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for one. The newest phone models can cost several hundred dollars, so be sure to balance out your monthly service charges with the cost of your phone. On the other hand, if you don’t care about having the latest model, skipping the contract and purchasing a cheap cell phone can save you money in the long-haul.
3. Pay as You Go
If you rarely use your cell phone, a prepaid plan might be the way to go. Several carriers offer prepaid plans—including Sprint—which lets you pay for only the minutes you use. This way, you avoid surprises at the end of the month.
And since prepaid cell phone plans have evolved significantly over the past few years, there are many options with regard to carriers and types of phones. Just make sure you compare plans to see which one works for you.
4. Disable Cellular Data
Getting an unlimited plan is one way to know exactly how much you’ll pay on a monthly basis. If your carrier doesn’t offer unlimited service, or if unlimited service is too expensive, keep a close eye on your cellular data usage to keep your bill within budget.
Signing onto WiFi while at work, home or in public places lets you text, stream or play games without eating up all your data. I know from experience, even when you set your phone up to automatically connect to WiFi, it can switch back to cellular service when the WiFi signal weakens. To avoid these slip-ups and accidentally using up your cell data, disable it altogether.
5. Ditch the Smart Phone
Smartphone monthly plans are more expensive than non-smartphone plans. If you’re determined to cut your cell phone bill, consider whether you actually need a smartphone. Sure, these phones are convenient, but they’re certainly not required, especially if you don’t care about social media, watching movies, listening to music or playing games from your phone.
People often skip out on smartphones and instead purchase inexpensive WiFi-only tablets or devices like an iPod Touch for downloading apps, using a basic cell phone strictly for calls.
The bottom line? Most people need a cell phone. But just because you need a phone doesn’t mean you have to break the bank every month. Life is expensive enough; if you can shave money off your cell phone bill, that’s more money in your pocket.
Get started today by browsing our Top 5 Cell Phone Plans of 2017 – our #1 could save you big.