Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dial It Down Part Deux

While it's hard for kids to imagine life without a cell phone, a lot of us remember the days when (horrors!) we had to wait until we got home to call our bffs. I love the convenience of cell phones as much as anyone else, but when money is tight, it's worth scaling back and using the old land line more often. You'll still have the cell phone for emergencies.

Consider these cost trimming items.

1. Check your minutes. If you're not using them all, why not cut back to a less expensive plan with fewer monthly minutes?

2. Check for add-ons that you don't need like emergency roadside service, games, and ringtones. Do you absolutely need mobile email? How about web browsing? If you don't use them regularly, ditch them.

3. Are you paying a monthly fee to insure your phone? Unless you have a very expensive phone, insurance probably isn't worthwhile.

4. What are you paying to text messages? Is texting vital to you? Be honest when you answer the next question. Have you texted anything urgent in the last three months?

5. When your contract runs out, don't rush to renew your contract unless there's a problem with the old phone. Ask what will happen if you don't renew. Many companies will continue your service under the same terms. I can't speak for all companies -- but I still have my service. The difference is that I can now change plans at any time because I'm no longer under contract.

6. If it's the kids who are running up the bill, consider pre-paid cell phones. With a limited number of minutes, they'll be forced to economize and won't surprise you with a horrendous unexpected expense. It's a great way to teach them about budgeting. If your little darlings are into texting, consider how much of your budget you want to spend on HRU (how are you) and R U There (are you there).

Two last tips.

1. Look up numbers. 411 can be expensive.

2. Are you calling from your car when you'll be there in five minutes? Retrain yourself. You don't have to call someone you'll see in a few minutes. And go back to using the land line whenever possible.


Lorna Barrett said...

I have one of those pre-paid phones. I rarely use it. In fact, I seem to use it mostly at the grocery store. ("What kind of sausage did you want, Mum? Ground, links, or patties?") More often than not, when I need to use it, the battery needs charging.

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