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Cutting Cell Phone Bills

When the cell phone bill shows up every month you might be wondering why it's often more than what you expect. Jody Rohlena, Senior Editor for ShopSmart Magazine gives eight tips on what you can do to cut down on the shock factor and save some cash.

First, go easy on the minutes. Take a look at how many minutes you are using a month. If you are using less minutes than what is in your plan you might save going with a cheaper plan with fewer minutes. But, make sure the new plan includes the same free talk time minutes in the old plan.

Second, maximize family-plan calling by calling your spouse or children on the family plan cell phone instead of their work or home phones. The in-network mobile to mobile minutes are usually free.

Third, use freebies. Most people make the majority of their calls to the same five phone numbers. So, if your plan offers unlimited calling to a designated phone list, make sure you register up to the allotted number. Also, be sure to register landlines and numbers outside of your network since most in-network calls are already unlimited.

Fourth, bundle up texts. Paying per text message can add up. If you're an avid texter think about a text package. 200 to 1,500 messages per month will run you from $5 to $15. Paying per message is 15 to 20 cents a message.

Fifth, Don't be afraid to complain. Call customer service when the unexpected occurs. Your carrier just might cut you a break if your bill is unusually large because your teenager exceeded their plan's texting limit by 2,000 messages.

Sixth, get a data plan. A plan with unlimited Web and messaging on a smart phone should run you from $10 to $60 per month. Paying per megabyte will chew up your budget. Sprint's per megabyte rate is $30.72.

Seventh, shop around. Check out sites like billshrink.com that will sift through the major plans factoring in your usage and other information provided to come up with a phone and plan recommendation. Don't forget to check out prepaid carriers' plans. They are usually cheaper.

Last, Avoid big termination fees. Getting out of your plan early can run as high as $350. So, make sure you like you're plan going in. If you aren't happy switch to a new carrier within the 15 to 30 day trial period to avoid paying fees.

For more cell phone money saving tips and other consumer information click here.
by Jody Rohlena and Erika Wortham