Stop Wireless Waste

If you read last week’s letter then you may be the lucky recipient of a brand new and free iPhone. Apple’s latest cell phone has continued to sell well since it first went on sale about two weeks ago. The company sold over 9 million phones in just a few days and that number has continued to rise in the subsequent weeks.

After writing last week’s letter I started to think more and more about cell phones and their cost. Getting a cool new cell phone is great and all, but not if my monthly bills continue to rise to levels that no one can afford. JD Power and Associates estimates that U.S. families spend an average of $139 a month on cell phones, or nearly $1700 a year. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that household spending on cell phone services has gone up more than 20 percent since 2006!

When is the last time you really looked at your cell phone bill? I mean not just shook your head at the exorbitant amount your provider says you owe each month, but really analyzed the numbers on the bill. If it’s been awhile pull out your last bill and read on to find out the six actions you can take right now to save money on your very next cell phone bill.

The first thing to check out on your bill is if you go over in any category; minutes, texts or data. You’ll save the most money by choosing a plan that best fits your usage patterns. If your cell phone bill is a bit too confusing to figure out your usage patterns then try out a free website that analyzes your bills for you. Overmyminutes.com and myrateplan.com are two such websites that will analyze your cell phone bills, looking at your usage rates and determine if you are paying too much. You answer a few questions and you’ll immediately learn where you can start saving money. The sites will even compare your current plan to other available plans so you can either adjust your current plan or switch to save money.

Combine that savings with discounts from your employer. Many people don’t realize that their own company often has deals they work out with major cell phone carriers to cut prices for their employees. These deals are most often associated with Fortune 500 and other big companies, but many medium and small businesses offer these discounts as well.

Send an email or stop in for a chat with your human resource department. They are the ones most likely to know if such a discount exists. In some cases the savings can reduce your bills by as much as 30 percent! Sometimes the discounts are only with certain carriers or for certain plans so make sure to get all the information you can before making any type of switch.

If you are a student you are probably eligible for a cell phone plan discount as well. Call up your current provider to ask about any savings you can get while in school. You’ll most likely only need to verify your enrollment by providing your school email address.

You should also look out for sneaky, hidden charges. Cell phone carriers love to tack on small charges here and there that won’t raise eyebrows in order to ratchet up your bill each month. You’ll see charges for $.99 or $1.99 here and there, amounts that are small enough not to cause a big fuss. Except that over time those charges can really start to add up. Next time you need to call a 1-800 number use a land line. Toll-free calls aren’t free when you make them from a cell phone. You’ll waste your minutes and be charged extra for them. It also costs extra when you dial 4-1-1 on your cell phone. The informational service is free to land line lovers but not cell phone users. If you need information and only have your cell phone handy dial 1-800-GOOG-411 or 1-800-FREE411, both are free services for information.

You can also use the fierce competition between the four biggest cell phone companies, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile, to your advantage. Each of these providers spends millions of dollars each year trying to lure customers away from other providers. These companies know that each user is worth thousands of dollars to them and they are willing to make deals and cut costs for you to get you to switch.

The next time you near the end of your contract contact your provider and ask about your plan. You see carriers are constantly changing and creating new cell phone plans to get more users. So the plan you signed up for is not necessarily the best deal for you any longer. Your cell company isn’t going to call you and tell you that though. They want you to keep paying your bill for as long as possible. Many times you can lower your bill by simply asking about new promotions and plans that have come out since you originally signed up.

If you are not getting the kind of savings you had hoped when you ring up your cell phone carrier, then threatening to leave and go to one of their competitors is a great way to grab their attention. Once you tell your provider you are thinking of leaving for greener pastures you’ll promptly be switched to a representative from the “save” department. These sales rep.’s are authorized to make deals and cut your costs for you down to extremely low rates in order to retain your business.

Just remember these companies will go a long way to entice you to buy from them. You don’t have to stick with the same carrier or plan if you want to lower your monthly bill. These companies know you have a lot of choice and negotiating power when it comes to your cell phone bill. Be sure to choose the plan that best fits your usage and lifestyle and don’t let a carrier talk you into a more expensive plan with their phony facts and figures. They often inflate the number to get you into the plan they want you to pay.

Good luck!

Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson


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