One of the fastest growing industries in the US now is mobile technology. Every day we hear about more smart phones, tablets, and mobile Internet "hot spots" being released by several different manufacturers.
With "feature phones" giving way to "smart phones" as the next big thing in wireless stores, and each one carrying a mandatory data plan (starting at about $30 per month), the family cell phone bill can get rather big rather quickly. What can you do? Well, take a close look at your bill and see what you really need.
Get Rid of Your Old Plan
Are you still on an old, "unlimited" plan from your carrier? Some people live in a rural area that cannot get reliable Internet from a cable provider, and use their cell phone service to get it. If not, and unless you are otherwise using tens of gigabytes every month, you are probably paying too much.
Even though you are "grandfathered in," your carrier has probably been increasing the data fee on your plan; Verizon has. So you are still paying dearly for that unlimited plan, and perhaps more than you have to. Verizon (and probably the other carriers) give you the opportunity to see your data usage history. Take a look and see how much data you are actually using on average.
Get a Better Plan, Stan!
Once you know your average data usage, you can then pick a better plan. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile offer plans where you pick a bucket of shareable data, then pay a flat fee per device. Go with the one that would cover your average usage. You can also usually switch among the plan tiers, just in case your usage increases.
Make Better Use of Home and Mobile Wifi
If you have home Internet (and most folks do these days) then make sure your mobile devices automatically attach to your wifi. You should not use any of your mobile data while at home.
If your home Internet carrier (favorite coffee shop, etc.) provides free mobile hotspots, be sure that your phone or tablet is configured to attach to them automatically. As long as you are on wifi, you are not using data from your wireless plan.
Does Everyone Need a Smatphone/Tablet?
Finally, do you (or others in your family, like your kids) really need a smart phone? Do they really just need it for calls and texting? If so, consider downgrading to a feature phone. Some carriers charge less per line for a feature phone than a smart phone.
Take a look at all of the mobile devices you have? Do they really all need broadband access through your wireless carrier, or can they be wifi only. Limiting the number of devices on your plan can also shave off a few dollars every month.
Keep Your Phone Longer
We all love our mobile technology. Studies show that people upgrade to the "next latest thing" every year. Don't get caught up in keeping up. Once your phone is paid off, and the monthly payment is dropped from your bill, you will save money every month you do not switch to a new one.
Be frugal and cut back on what you don't use or need. After awhile, you may find you don't miss them that much, and would rather have the extra money in your pocket. That's always a good thing!