Cutting Cell Phone Costs

I remember when cellphones came out. My dad had one in his car but most people didn't have one. I would walk down the street in the city I lived in at the time and saw these business people with them, they were the size of a walkie-talkie and very ugly-looking. I thought people looked ridiculous walking and talking and I swore I'd never get one.

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Not a decade later, I found myself in a cellphone store (late nineties) and purchasing one with a plan. Even then, not everyone had a cellphone so our costs were really low. We used them mostly to contact each other (my partner and I) if we were meeting up somewhere or plans changed. It was very convenient but we didn't live by them. I think sometimes we forgot we even had one. And text messaging wasn't what it is now, most people didn't text back then.

Then fast-forward another decade. I don't know anyone who doesn't own a cellphone. Even friends of mine who swore 5 years ago that they'd never get one, have one. It has become commonplace. Many of my friends who live in apartments don't have a LAN line and just use their cell as their home phone.

On one hand, I like the convenience but on the other hand I really hate them. I don't spend a lot of money on mine but many of my younger friends are constantly glued to their phones, especially since Blackberries and IPhones came out. It seems as though I can't have a coffee, dinner or even a nice day out with someone without them having to text or call someone or even taking a call.

Please consider shutting your phone off when spending time with friends and/or family. I love going to Holland since many restaurants there have a no-cell usage sign on their door. I am then guaranteed quality time with whoever I am with as I know their cellphone won't be dining with us.

All this being said, we are obviously using our cell a lot more than before which means our costs are probably a lot higher as well. So how do we cut costs? Have you ever received a ridiculously high cellphone bill? Are you on a budget and still spending $100 a month on it? Here are a few things you can do.

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We lived without cellphones before, we can still do it now. It's OK to have a cellphone but it's not OK to deal with its usage like we'd deal with a drug addiction. Do you find yourself texting, facebooking and calling people constantly? Try turning your phone off during peak hours. Tell friends only to text or call you if it is truly needed or else just tell them to use email and you can check it when you get home. Send emails on your computer, text only when it's absolutely necessary. If you must pay for incoming text messages, tell people not to text you but to call you instead (at times where it's free for you to receive calls)

Change Your Plan As Your Life Changes

Cellphone companies have plans depending on our usage. Sometimes one plan is good for a while but then life changes and that plan no longer works. I used to have a 5-faves plan when my friends lived in the city. These are people I would call on a regular basis and I didn't call others as much. So I could text, call and receive calls from these people constantly and it wouldn't cost me a dime. Everyone moved away so I had no use for this anymore. I changed my plan and am now saving $20 a month.

Look at your bill, figure out when and who you call and pick a plan that is appropriate for your life. Believe it or not, some companies have plans that they don't advertise so it's a good idea to call, tell them what your needs are and find out if they have any suggestions. They are trained to do this and will look at your bill for you to determine what's best for you. Don't let them talk you into something you don't need though. Make a point of saying that you want to stay with that company but that you need to reduce your costs.

Get Pay As You Go

A lot of people won't like me for suggesting this, but it's the only way to closely monitor your usage. I knew a lady who bought a $15 card monthly for her phone. Once it ran out, she didn't buy another one till the month was up. This was her way of monitoring her costs. She then realized when she really needed it and when she just wanted to use it.

The nice thing about Pay as You Go is that all services are included and you won't run up a bill. It's like being on a cellphone diet. Some people I know hated it because it limited their usage but that's the whole point. Do you really need to text your friend to say that there is a good sale on at the clothing store or that you ran into an old friend?

Don't Bring Your Cell When Traveling Overseas.

Unless you are there for work and your cell is paid for, leave it at home! The roaming costs are ridiculous overseas. When we visit my partners parents in Holland, we have a Dutch Pay as you Go (we have a used one his mom gave us) and get a card for it.

My mother does the same thing when she goes to Spain for a month every year. She has a Spanish pay as you go and just gets a card when she arrives. The nice thing about European cellphones is that all incoming calls are free, so even if we have run out of minutes on our card, his parents can still call us on it. It might cost you 30 euros to get a cheap phone and card but that's a lot cheaper than paying roaming charges. If I am only going out of the country for a few days, I just turn off my cellphone and don't use it at all and use payphones or my laptop to send emails.

Get Work To Pay Part Of Your Bill

If you have a personal cell but find that you are using it for work sometimes, talk to your employer and find out if you can expense some of your usage. I know a friend who used to do this and part of his bill was paid for by his company. If they refuse to pay, tell them that you can no longer afford to take work calls on your cellphone, they might change their minds.

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Get A Basic Phone With No Bells And Whistles.

Most of my friends are serious tech geeks so telling them to get rid of their Iphones or Blackberries is nearly impossible. Myself, I have a basic phone with no data plan, I can just call and text, that's it. It's not very exciting looking but it does the job. I can text easily and it works perfectly. There is no need to get the latest gadget to keep up with the Jones'. I got my cell company to block the internet portion of it so I wouldn't use it. My bill is less than $30 a month right now and believe it or not I am still trying to find ways to reduce it.

Send Text Messages Online.

There are a number of free text messaging services online such as freetxt.com or freetxt.ca. You can also text message from the cell providers website. I have done this before when I didn't have a text plan way back when. Texting your friend's cell from your computer will save you money. Some people have their cellphones set up with MSN so you can text someone's cellphone if they are not online and it goes right to their cellphone.

Cellphone usage has become a scary addiction, I really wish most people I knew would go on a cellphone diet because it has not enhanced my friendships at all, if anything I feel as if it has made them less personal. I always feel less important than their cellphone. We have this obsessive need to be connected to everything and everyone at all times. I don't think it's healthy. Although I do find them useful, I do think it's time for most people to reevaluate their usage. Not only to save money but to enhance personal connections.

Good luck!

Source: Written by me and taken from my blog:

By freya1970 from Halifax, NS

March 29, 20100 found this helpful

I like what you had to say. I had texting blocked on my phone so I send and receive calls only. Another factor is, if you buy your phone outright you can usually get away with not having a contract. I bought a very basic used phone at the local Verizon store. I can drop them whenever I want without the worry of penalty fees. Verizon also has a senior plan, other providers might as well so ask if you are over 65.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
April 1, 20100 found this helpful

My life definitely changed when the economy hit rock bottom and I had to get out of my cell phone plan because I just couldn't keep up with it. I'm temporarily using the Net10 service which is only 10 cents a minute. I didn't need to sign a contract and I buy a card every couple months for minutes. It's been hard getting used to not having the web but this decision is helping me get back on my feet.

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April 1, 20100 found this helpful

I have a 10 dollar a month, no contract deal with Consumer Cellular. It costs me 25 cents a minute for usage. I don't text and I don't give out my number. It is strictly for emergencies. It stays turned off most of the time. I use my house phone for yapping. My cell bill never goes above 14 dollars a month. It was only 20 when I was using it when my new grandson was born. When Ike hit Houston I ran up a 30 dollar bill because my cordless phones didn't work without electricity. For the most part this plan works great for me as an old person. This company also has a selection of free phones available.

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October 27, 20100 found this helpful

The points presented are great. It is best to examine first your communication needs then find cheaper alternatives in transmitting voice and text messages.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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