Are you paying too much for your cell phone service?


posted by on Momelettes


When I was trying to cut down on bills and try to keep a higher monthly income, I decided to go over EVERY bill with a fine-tooth comb, and not just the final figure. What services was I getting for each bill?

Let’s see, phone bill. Do I use the landline often enough to need caller ID? Nope. Do I need to pay for voice mail service? Nope, not when I have a digital answering machine. Right away I could shave $11 off my monthly telephone bill. I followed suit with each additional bill, checking them all when they came in.

And then I got to my cell phone, which at the time was Nextel (and had been for years upon years).

Between my husband and I, we were paying a combined total of $175/month JUST for a cell phone service! They didn’t even do anything fancy. They just dialed. And if I did want to send a text message, I had to use the tiny keypad and hit each key about five times until I got the character I wanted. I tried sending my husband a text message once on that old phone, got fed up with key-tapping, and finally called him: “Can you please pick up milk on your way home?”

Horrified, I realized I had been complacently paying the same high cell phone bill for the same service month after month. Just because it had always been that way, and my cell phone had always worked.

There may be some things stopping you, and they really shouldn’t:

You already are in an existing contract.

A quick Google search on getting out of your existing cell phone contract yields the fact that you are not the only person with this dilemma. There are ways to get around the dreaded Early Termination Fee. Stick to your guns. It’s hard for us women to be firm and speak up, but you can do it. Or, you can do what my friend Erin does whenever she needs to get out of a contract: she calls the company in question and tells them she’s leaving the country. Although, keep in mind, if you haven’t checked your plan for years, you probably aren’t even on a contract anymore.

You don’t want to have to buy a new phone.

Trust me, unless you want the new iPhone coming out soon, they aren’t as expensive as you think they are. Many cell phone providers are giving them away for free or with good rebates when you sign up for a new plan. You’ve had years on your existing plan, it’s time to re-evaluate the way you use your cell phone.

Choosing a new phone and plan

It’s really quite simple, when you break it down:

  1. Evaluate how you use your cell phone.
  • How many minutes do you use? Look at your last five month’s worth to get a good average. Be honest with yourself.
  • Do you want to send text messages? You’ll want a phone with a qwerty keyboard.
  • Do you want to use the Internet on your phone? You’ll need a data plan.
  • What other services do you need? (photos, MP3 players, GPS, etc.) Brainstorm!

2. Price shop with the various cell phone companies to get to know the wide range of services they offer.

Once you have a plan, choose a phone that best suits your requirements you figured out in step 1.

When all was said and done, I went from a plain old cell phone from Nextel to an unlimited data/text/cell phone from Sprint with a Treo 800wx running Windows Mobile on it that also became my GPS and MP3 player. After the inital cost of the phone, I am paying $159/month for all that service on the same phone and plan for my husband and I.

Just think if I hadn’t gone over that bill! I shudder.

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