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Don't Spend a Fortune on Your Cell Phone Bills

Updated on December 1, 2013
Cell phones don't need to cost a fortune.  Learn now to be a smart shopper and get what you need at the price you want.
Cell phones don't need to cost a fortune. Learn now to be a smart shopper and get what you need at the price you want. | Source

Cell phones were unheard of when I was growing up 40 years ago. Today, we don't go anywhere without them. For many people, cell phones have replaced the traditional land line telephone in the home.

Many people are burdened with high cell phone bills. And while cell phones may be important to our way of life, they should not be more of a burden to us than a benefit. Learn how to get what you need from a cell phone without spending a fortune.


Going to a cell phone store to purchase a phone without considering exactly what you need it for and how much you can spend on it each month is like going grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Everything looks and sounds good. Before you know it, your cart is full of things you never would have purchased if you had only prepared yourself for the shopping trip.

Before you go out to buy a new cell phone or upgrade your plan, be sure you know exactly what you need and how much you can afford to spend each month.

How to Choose the Right Cell Phone for You

Reduce your cell phone expense before you buy by taking some time to consider exactly what you need - not want - in a cell phone. All of the bells and whistles of unlimited data, downloadable applications, fancy ringtones, and more just increase the everyday cost of your cell phone.

The time to know what you need in a cell phone and how much you can afford to spend on it each month is before you go to the cell phone store. You should have a really clear idea of exactly what you need the phone to do and why you are going to use it.

When considering what you need in a cell phone ask these questions:

  • What is the main reason I need a cell phone?
  • How much money can I afford to spend each month on a cell phone bill?
  • What cell phone services do I absolutely need to have for my cell phone to meet my needs?

Before buying a cell phone consider exactly what you will use it for and how much you can afford to spend on it each month.
Before buying a cell phone consider exactly what you will use it for and how much you can afford to spend on it each month. | Source

Cell Phone Needs vs Wants

Be careful here with need vs want. There are lots of things you may want in a cell phone. Be sure to know exactly what you truly need before you go shopping.

What is the Main Reason I Need a Cell Phone?

Think about how you plan to use your cell phone. Ask yourself why you need it.

  • Will you use it for emergencies?
  • Will you use it for work or business?
  • Do you plan to use it primarily for fun and socializing?
  • Will your cell phone be your primary and only means of communication?

Get the Inside Scoop on Unnecessary Cell Phone Charges

Know Your Budget

Knowing your budget for a cell phone before going to the cell phone store can help you avoid getting talked into purchasing a cell phone that does much more than you would ever need. That in itself will ensure that you have a more reasonably priced plan.

How Much Can I Afford to Spend on a Cell Phone Bill Each Month?

Many people do not give their monthly budget a second thought when purchasing a cell phone. Or, they may see an advertisement that promotes a certain phone and plan for $69 per month. While $69 monthly may sound great and get our attention, it is important to be aware of hidden costs and additional fees.

Cell phone providers may charge additional fees for:

  • unlimited data
  • unlimited texting
  • pay per text charges
  • overage charges per minute if you use more than the designated number of minutes on your limited talk plan
  • overage charges per kb if you use more than the amount designated on your limited data plan
  • cell phone insurance
  • early contract termination
  • downloaded phone applications
  • mobile hotspot devices

Be sure to know what you can afford to spend both at the time of purchase and on a monthly basis on your cell phone bill. Clarify with the sales representative that the monthly price you are discussing includes all additional charges and an estimate of monthly taxes and surcharges. What started out a $69 per month can easily cost an unwitting shopper upwards of $150 monthly. Buyer beware!

Contract or Prepaid Cell Phones

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What Cell Phone Features and Services Do I Really Need?

Cell phone providers have a virtual buffet of products and services available. Which do you need? Do these services add additional monthly costs to my cell phone bill? Do I need a more expensive phone to use have access to those services?

Many a cell phone customer has gone into a store planning to "look for a new phone." With no clear idea of what they wanted or needed, these customers probably became pretty starry-eyed and excited about all of the different things that cell phones can do. Many, unfortunately, have ended up with monthly cell phone bills averaging between $200-300 for services that are nice to have but are not really necessary.

Before you shop for a cell phone, consider the following.

  • Do I need access to the internet on my cell phone or can I use the internet on my laptop or PC at home or the library?
  • If I do need the internet on my cell phone, is it just for convenience or fun?
  • Do I plan to do a lot of talking on my cell phone or will I use it for texting?
  • Do I need to access my email on my cell phone or can I do it from my home or office?
  • Do I need a camera on my phone or can I take photos with my digital camera?
  • Do I need to watch movies and videos on my phone?

Would a Prepaid Cell Phone Work for You?

An alternative to the traditional contracted cell phone service that locks a customer into a 1-2 year agreement is the prepaid cell phone. These phones require the customer to purchase a cell phone up front and then to purchase either minutes of talk time or an unlimited talk/text/data plan for 30 days. Prepaid cell phones are a great way to cap monthly cell phone expenses.

My mother uses a prepaid cell phone and buys minutes to talk as she needs them. For a senior citizen who is using the phone for emergencies and only occasional talking, this is a great way to go. Her cell phone costs are $200 or less per year.

Others considering a prepaid cell phone service may want the convenience of unlimited talking, texting and data usage. This type of service can now be purchased in many areas for $45 - 50 dollars for 30 days and requires no long term contract or even a requirement to use the phone from one month to the next.

Service areas can vary on these plans. You should be careful when shopping. But, either of these options could be big money savers!

Take Advantage of Employee Discounts

Most cell phone providers offer discounts to large and small companies, schools and students. Before you shop be sure to ask your employer if they offer any discounts on cell phone services. The highest discount on cell service that I have seen is 27% per month. Even if you already have cell service a discount can be applied to your account. Check on this for some serious savings!


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    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 4 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      I am currently stuck with a two year plan on my phone...I pay a bunch for a family plan for my phone, my husbands phone and one for one of our grown children who couldn't get one on her own - and needs it because she has two small children. Although I don't like what I pay for my phone, I am unwilling to give up all my bells and whistles, so I guess I have to pay for them....Maybe one of these days I'll get smart and get rid of all of them!

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 4 years ago from Manhattan

      Great hub, unfortunately SaveLoveGive doesn't have T-Mobile yet.

    • kthix10 profile image

      kthix10 4 years ago from IL

      Love this! Although SaveLoveGive told me not to switch plans which is what I was already thinking it was nice to have someone else confirm what we already thought. My husband desperately needs a new phone but if we upgrade we loose our current plan. So looks like we will be buying a new one outright. Thanks!