We all complain about those surprises we get on our phone bills. Television sitcoms can spin entire episodes on the topic. But, surprise phone bills are no laughing matter.
When you set a budgeted amount for phone service, items like going over minutes, long distance fees, texting, mobile internet usage, and information calls can leave you frustrated. This is not a good thing by any means. If it has gotten downright scary to open that phone bill, it’s time to take control. Let’s take a hard look at a few places to cut back:
1. The Landline
Do you really need a home phone? This is the most obvious cut to consider. Does anyone even call it, other than telemarketers? It’s probably time to cut the cord. Be sure first that your land-line connection is not “bundled” with another utility, like cable, before you get rid of it. Compare the savings before you decide, then if it makes sense, let go of that home phone.
I kept my landline, but here is how it worked out. I was paying $8 a month to Spectrum for my landline. But, because I also have a minimum Spectrum internet connection, it was considered a bundle, and I was being charged $22 a month for that. Not for the internet, but for the bundle. I was also being charged for the voice mail, I think it was a mere $2 a month. So my 8 dollar phone was actually costing me 32 dollars per month. I switched to Google Fiber’s phone for $10 per month. It comes with free voice mail, free voice mail to email, and it rings on my computer and a little popup lets me know who is calling. I barely need the landline, but until I’m ready to give it up completely, $10 is way better than $32.
2. Mobile Phone Extras
Ring tones and apps that charge a monthly fee are for the birds. If it was a one-time charge, then fine, just don’t buy any more. A new ring tone for every family member, a few fun apps, and a fresh wallpaper or two can add up fast. Use the built-in ring tones. You already paid for them when you bought your phone and your plan.
3. Watch Those Minutes
Review your minutes routinely. Are you going over your allotted plan minutes every month and getting dinged with extra fees for it? Or, do you not even come close to using the plan max? Would an unlimited plan make sense for you? Or maybe a downgrade in minutes? Find out if there is a better plan for you and your family and make the change.
4. Don’t Call Information
Block information calls to eliminate this useless fee. It really is unnecessary and, more than likely, can wait until you get home. Plus, you can Google practically any phone number you need for free. This goes for any type of ‘operator assisted’ calls. That is so 20th Century, really. You can find out anything you need to know free of charge.
5. Long Distance
Long distance charges are old school. If your carrier still charges long distance, ditch them now. There are many alternatives available for very cheap, or even free, long distance calls, even for overseas calls. Calling plans are quickly getting on board with the flat fee rates, so compare and save.
6. Special Plans
Ask your carrier about any special plans they have. There are discounted plans for seniors, for multi-line accounts (for families), for teachers, veterans, students, and federal employees. If you work for a large corporation, they may offer discounted plans with certain carriers.
7. Use the Web to Phone Home
One popular choice is a web-based call through Skype. Skype-to-Skype calls are free, so have everyone you call sign up and you’re good to go. And, don’t let it scare you. You don’t have to put on makeup and do your hair for Skype. You can turn off the video feature and just use the audio feature either with your built-in microphone in your computer or with a simple headphone. Another option is Facebook Messenger’s video and audio calls. Besides saving minutes and money, the video connections are a lot of fun to use. The Jetson’s age has arrived!
8. Cancel the High Speed Internet Access
There. I said it. It’s out in the open. It may hurt, but if you are really intent on trimming your expenses, you need to cut out the high-speed broadband. You can live without checking your email or Facebook status every 30 seconds. You did it before; you can do it again. And then again, if you really must, you can still check them on your phone. This won’t actually save on your phone bill, but it will save monthly cash.
9. Switch to WiFi
If you keep your internet connection, you can switch your phone over to it’s WiFi to save your minutes and your monthly bandwidth. You can also do this in places that have free WiFi, although this isn’t really recommended, as you can be easily hacked on a public WiFi connection.
When cutting costs in the family budget, it’s hard to give up the things we’ve become accustomed to having. With many phone plans, however, there is a lot of fluff that could be trimmed without a bit of pain. Get your family on board with your plan and go ahead and streamline you phone service.