Save money on your cell phone bill: Seven tips

A few years ago, my cell phone bill was pretty straightforward because I paid for one cell phone that I used for one thing only: making phone calls. Since then my family has upgraded to using a few different devices, including two smart phones and an iPad, all of which run on data plans.

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A few years ago, my cell phone bill was pretty straightforward because I paid for one cell phone that I used for one thing only: making phone calls. Since then my family has upgraded to using a few different devices, including two smart phones and an iPad, all of which run on data plans. If your family is like mine, it’s important to keep an eye on these costs. Here are some simple changes you can make to help you save money on your cell phone bill:

1. Get the right plan
The first step in lowering your cell phone bill is to stop paying for services you don’t use. Do you need voicemail, call display or call forwarding? If not, chop those items from your plan.

2. Check your usage patterns
Do your usage patterns match your package? Do you make a lot of long distance calls? Do you talk on the phone more than texting? Your provider can help you find a package that fits your needs. For example, I recently switched from pay per text to unlimited text messaging because I started to text more — this small change is saving me $3 to $5 a month.

3. Friends and family
If most of your calls are being made to just a few people, consider asking your provider for a friends and family plan, which will allow you to call those numbers for less. Another way to save is by getting a sharing plan. My husband and I both have a shared voice and data plan which saves us about $5 to $10 a month. If you have multiple cell phones in your house, call your provider to see what sharing plans they offer.

4. Avoid roaming charges
Last month my husband took a sailing trip in the Caribbean and his calls home to say goodnight to the kids cost us an extra (gulp) $561 on our bill. Don’t let this happen you! Contact your provider and ask about travel packages before you leave or turn your data roaming off.

5. Use Wi-Fi wherever you can
Logging on to a free Wi-Fi network when you’re out can cut your data use and save you money. Do a little research on where the free Wi-Fi hotspots are in your area — coffee shops usually offer free access.

6. Do you really need a smart phone?
Is a smart phone a must-have for you? They’re more expensive to buy than a regular cell phone and they’re more expensive to use because of the data plan. So before jumping on to the bandwagon, ask yourself if you really need to check email and have Internet access when you’re away from home. If the answer is yes, make sure you shop around. Some of the cheaper and less-hyped devices are just as good as the more well-known models.

7. Get a better deal from your provider
If you think you deserve a better deal on your cell phone bill, then call and ask for one. You’ll be surprised what your provider can do, whether it’s offering bundling services or a better and cheaper plan to suit your needs. It’s definitely worth a shot.