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Your cell phone bill probably ranks among your highest monthly expenses, right along with your cable and utilities payments. Because of the complexity of plans and usage charges, you need to be smart about making use of your family’s wireless plans and phones.
In an online article last month, Mobile Crunch cited a cell phone study by Billmonitor which showed that many people sign-up for more voice minutes than they use.
To stop going over, set up text alerts from your carrier (most offer this service for free) when you cross your plan’s limit, or do a quick query every couple of days. Phones are more capable now then ever and we rely on them for email, web browsing, and running apps that access the Internet. The Billmonitor survey also says people commonly go over their data plan limits and get whacked with higher bills as a result. On family plans, everything gets shared – voice minutes, text message counts, and data usage totals.
Consider creative solutions like converting the plan into a pay-as-you-go phone like the AT&T (T) Go Phone.
Most carriers offer texting packages and special entertainment services like music and movie downloads that could add to your bill. As far as services designed to help you find your friends and family on a map – like AT&T’s FamilyMap - the free Glympse app lets you “share your where” with those you specify.
If you’re considering any other carrier services, just search the Internet for cheap or free alternatives using the keywords of what the service provides. The cost of owning and operating a smartphone is high, particularly in the United States, where monthly bills topping $80 are not unusual.
If you want to check out your usage, log into your account or use your carrier’s app.
Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) can also offer some great deals, though you’ll have to provide your own smartphone or buy one at full price.
Call your carrier if you find that you’re not coming close to using your allowance and ask them to change your plan. Carriers used to offer unlimited data and meter call minutes and texts, but since we started consuming more data they’ve switched this arrangement around. You’ll spend the bulk of your day at home or in the office and both places should have Wi-Fi networks. On Android you can go to Settings > Data usage to track your data usage and set a limit for the month. You can find more tips for saving money of data in our guide on how to reduce your data usage. If you want an alternative solution that works with other platforms like Android then you should check out one of the top VoIP or messenger apps. It can be sensible to get smartphone insurance, but it’s very easy to get ripped off.
Due to the unique nature of our plan and usage, I decided to do more research to see how we could lower our bill.
One thing that is working for us is that my wife is able to take advantage of a discount offered through her employer for 25% off our AT&T bill. If you have several members in your family, it may benefit you all to join their Family Plan where you can get free mobile-to-mobile calls.
Best bet is to call up the AT&T rep (or go to a store) and walk through all your options with them. I’m not a big fan of calling up a company and berating the representative on the other end. Helped start Three Thrifty Guys with his friends Charlie and Mark after being inspired by how they lived their lives “on the thrift”. And another way to potentially save money is threaten to quit and leave for another service provider. And FINALLY, the best way to get good deals with Cell phones is to NEVER call Customer Service.
Our office uses a bundle package and it seems like whenever we save on one item we lose a discount on another.

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Most carriers offer both family plan options and so-called “unlimited” plans where voice minutes, the number of text messages, or the amount of data received while web browsing or downloading movies and music are a flat fee. Each carrier has a code you can punch-in over your phone to find out how many minutes you’ve used during a billing period. All this computation creates traffic on a carrier’s data network, and many have opted to pass this burden onto customers by dropping unlimited data plans in favor of plans with limits and overage charges similar to voice plans.
To address this, talk to your local phone store staff to determine how much data you use in an average month.
So, if one person in the family – let’s say a teen – talks, texts, or browses constantly, it can throw everyone off and over the plan limits into extra fees.
Apps such as Textfree with Voice provide you with your own phone number that others can call or text and it doesn’t cost you anything. Rather than pay $10 per month to access voice navigation services like the Verizon (VZ) Wireless’ VZ Navigator, you should consider downloading one of the many free apps like Waze (available to Verizon customers who own iPhones and Android devices) that can also guide you to where you want to go. They contract piggyback off of the major carrier networks and often resell service at much lower rates.
Apple has also introduced Wi-Fi calling in iOS 8, but a lot of the carriers are dragging their heels about supporting it. If you read the terms and conditions then you’ll often be surprised to find how limited the coverage is. I would recommend checking with your workplace too as they may have a similar offer in place for their employees.
But it’s important to read the fine print for these plans and choose wisely in terms of what best fits you and your family. Most people, at some point, have paid exorbitant per-minute extra charges after using up voice plan minutes during a month. In a few minutes, they can tell your average across several months and also route you to a plan that fits best. Best of all, you’re only charged on days you use the phone so it’s perfect for families that allow kids to use phones on weekends but not during the school week.
Ask your kids to use their iPod Touch devices for calls and texting to take the pressure off your cell plan. Music services like Pandora Radio and entertainment providers like Hulu can be downloaded for free and offer a lot of great content at no cost. Overall, become more familiar with your current cell phone plan by registering and logging-in to to your carrier account online. We’re going to run through some of the ways you might be able to reduce that monthly bill without significantly changing the way you use your smartphone. Are you paying extra for features like visual voicemail or ringback tones? These are all good questions to ask yourself.
Calculate what you think you really need in terms of texts, call minutes, and data each month and write it down. For example, Ting (which uses Sprint’s network) revealed in July that an average customer was paying $26 per month and using 314MB of data, 365 texts, and 250 minutes of voice calls. Just make sure you do your homework first so you know what you need and how much it should cost.
Most insurers will not pay out if you lose your smartphone or it’s stolen after you left it unattended.
If you work in the military or with the government, then you may find you’re entitled to a discount. So, we are thinking about switching my phone out with my step-sons so that we can avoid the overage fees since I don’t use nearly as much web data. Still, we ended up going to PTel and now we end up paying no more than $10 a month…often less. Or, do it yourself by reading over your monthly bills or logging-in to your account online. It’s easy to check your voice and data usage and set up alerts for when you are about to go over your limits.

Without a menu plan to help me make healthy food choices I wander around the grocery store and eventually default to buying frozen chicken strips and french fries.
Although I have to say our phone bill is FAR less than what we used to pay even 10 years ago, it’s still a big expense for us. Also, it’s difficult for people to figure out how many minutes they actually use each month.
For some people, especially light users, a prepaid deal will make the best financial sense.
You need to make sure that the changes you make don’t commit you to a new two-year contract term. Carriers and Internet service providers also offer free hotspots, so make sure you’re taking advantage. Accepting smartphone insurance through your carrier will rarely offer the best value for your money.
Check with your carrier about how to do it, but most of them have a webpage with further details, for example here’s the Verizon one.
I’m pretty sure we can all agree a regular diet of deep fried food is not a good idea for the waistline of a mama of five!To make intentional healthy food choices I NEED a menu plan. Everyone seems to be converting to VoIP but I still don’t fully understand what it is and if it so great why would any one still be using their phone companies for service? Over the next few posts I will share five steps I’ve learned that will get you started menu planning. They’ll likely be more responsive to you and look for alternative ways to help you out. He gave me that irresistible grin I fell in love with 16 years ago.Yep, the knife licker was my husband!
I’m trying to teach my children (and husband) that we make choices every time we go to the store and prepare a meal. The consequences of those choices either put MORE money in our New House Savings Fund or LESS money.Only eating a regular-sized portion of food will result in more money in our Fund (and less weight gain for us grown-ups!). If we bought my husband a pre-paid cell phone, using the same package we use for my phone, then we will save over $200 a year (totals= $472 with land line and 1 cell, $225 with 2 cells).I think most people would agree that land lines are a relic from the past and just a double expense when you already own cell phones.
Our only concern was when we have a baby sitter but our sitters all have their own cell phones. Also, our oldest child is at least 6 years away from being old enough to have his own phone. So, when we purchase 400 minutes for $100 for 1 year we actually receive 1200 minutes for the year. Moving on to the next desk, she repeated her actions.What I THOUGHT was a magazine was in fact Scholastic Book Club order forms!!!!I LOVED Scholastic Book Club order forms.
Grabbing my pencil I poured over the form, read the descriptions of each book, and circled the books I wanted. Of course, I could never buy ALL the books I wanted, but mom always let my purchase one or two.Thirty years have passed since my days of Scholastic Book orders, but my excitement over buying books has not waned! One of the local Rhode Island libraries keeps a $1 cart, but also hosts a used book sale in March and October each year. 32 books cost me $8!!Used Book Store.A small used book store sits down the street from our house. Take off those shorts and put on some pants!”My children wear nothing but shorts and t-shirts year around if I let them.
Even during the 2013 New England blizzard, they ran around the house with no socks or shoes. Your body will adjust to the change and the dollars in your savings account will stretch just a little.Are you willing to be slightly uncomfortable if it means saving $100 on heating costs this winter?

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