Lauren Cobello » Budgeting » Budget Tips and Tricks » How to Save on Your Phone Bill
Remember a time when everyone didn’t have cell phones? Depending on your age, it might be really easy to think back to that time. Maybe you’d like to go back to then? Maybe the idea makes your cringe? Either way, it appears that cell phones are here to stay and it’s a bill we all have to include in our budget. Today I want to teach you some tricks on how to save on your phone bill.
This is a great thing to discover when you start to learn how to budget. I would recommend trying to negotiate all of your bills down before you start creating your first budget.
Before you renew that contract this year though, you might want to consider these 8 ways you could save BIG bucks on your phone bill.
1. Ditch the landline
A couple of years ago, eliminating the landline for cellular seemed like a huge leap to take. A lot of questions were raised.
However, these concerns have proven to be a non-issue in many homes as new technology has made it easier to be landline-free. Emergency services have no trouble finding us thanks to improved GPS. A second line on your phone bill can be used as a house phone and will cost less than a landline.
Additionally, phones can be charged with car chargers, through a battery operated charger, or an external charger. Dropping the landline will save you money in your monthly budget and make the cell phone bill feel more reasonable.
Once you’ve made the move to cell phones only, these following 8 tips will save you hundreds of dollars this year!
2. Check for an employer discount
Many employers have set up a savings plan with phone companies. These promotions are often available for both small and large employers as well as private and public sector employees.
They can save you anywhere between 5% – 25% each month. Even students can receive a discount. Check for university sponsored savings plans that can also save you each month.
This benefit could keep $100 or more in your pocket this year.
3. Share with family members
Sharing your cell phone plan is a great way for everyone to save money. Additional phone lines cost anywhere from $10 – 50 depending on the type of plan you have. Split the costs with your parents, your children who are out on their own, or even a sibling or close friend. Splitting the cost of the base plan plus the cost of the additional line could save you $25 – $75 a month.
4. Own your Phone
You do NOT need to pay an extra $20 – $30 to lease your phone!
Buying cell phones has changed quite a bit in the past couple years. No longer will cell phone carriers allow you to get a new phone for “free” as long as you signed up with a new contract (and even then, the cost of the phone was built into the carrier charges).
All of the big carriers now allow you to lease your phone. But getting your phone from your carrier is a pretty expensive way to go. It’s similar to buying a brand new car right off the lot. I’m a big fan of getting used phones – and eBay is a great place to score some deals.
For example, if you got a 64GB iPhone 6 from AT&T, it would cost you $650 + tax (paid in monthly installments). On eBay, you can find the same phone (albeit used) for less than $400 in great condition.
And Android phones are even less expensive and just as good as iPhones! I’m currently testing out a Moto X with Republic Wireless and I’m loving it.
Again – you do NOT need to pay an extra $20 – $30 per month to lease your phone!
5. Lower your data plan
With the great number of Wi-Fi spots available these days, the amount of data that we use is greatly reduced. We have Wi-Fi at work, at home, in restaurants, and in shops. We rarely need to roam and use data.
If you are paying for an unlimited data plan, chances are you are throwing away money each month. Take a look at your data usage over the past few months and get an average of your usage.
You may be able to lower your plan to 1, 2, or 3 gigabytes (GB) of data per month. You’ll want to be careful as you get used to a lower plan – streaming videos or downloading apps takes a great deal of data, those things should usually be done when you are on a wireless network.
Also, if you have a shared plan with family members, shared data can be fantastic. For example, AT&T has a 15GB data plan that can easily cover 5 – 6 people. And if someone uses a ton of data in one month by accident, no big deal – it can be covered under the shared data.
6. Look into alternative cell phone carriers
No need to be confined to the larger cellular carriers. Check out smaller companies which offer additional savings benefits like Republic Wireless.
Republic Wireless pays you for the unused data left in your plan each month. The average savings, depending on the plan could give you $8 – $24 back each month. This is a great way to save money both initially with your plan and then with the reimbursement for unused data.
7. Purchase a pay-as-you-go plan
These plans allow you to pay for only what you use. You can buy the talk and data time in advance and use it up as needed. This could take you a month or six months. It’s completely based on how you use your phone. A great list of options for this type of service can be found here.
With a prepaid plan, you might not be able to use a fancy new smartphone, but you’ll be able to make calls and text when you need to while saving hundreds of dollars over the year.
8. Drop unnecessary charges
Take a good look at your bill. Are you seeing charges for roadside assistance, premium voicemail, insurance, and data usage?
If you are paying for insurance or roadside assistance, you’ll save yourself money by dropping both of these. Roadside care can usually be found cheaper through credit card companies, AAA, or even paid for as you use it directly through a tow truck.
Insurance on cell phones is usually a waste of money. Purchase a high quality phone case when you get your phone. Typically, we don’t use the insurance we pay for, but if something does happen, look for inexpensive repairs before buying a new phone.
Also, check for ringtone and song downloads. If you’ve ever downloaded a ringtone, you could have accidentally signed yourself up for a monthly plan. Call your carrier and put blocks on your phone to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
9. Try out new apps
To save yourself money each month, use a phone or an iPod and download apps. Both an older smartphone and an iPod will work on a Wi-Fi network without a data plan. You can download apps like Skype, WhatsApp, TextFree Unlimited, or GoogleVoice to make calls and text for free (you’ll need to be on a Wi-Fi network for them to work, however).
Explore these 9 ways to save money on your phone bill. You may be able to combine a few to truly maximize your savings. You could find yourself saving $25, $45, or even $100 each month with a few changes before you renew your current plan.