How is it possible that such a simple device like our mobile phone has become so complicated? I can remember back in 1991 when I had my first cell phone (that I couldn't even detach) installed into my beautiful Dodge Shadow. A phone was used pretty simply to make a phone call. Today, we've got texting, calling, messaging, games, and thousands of applications with the electronic wallet not too far behind. This means as the CEO of your family finances, you've got to more closely assess the cost of doing business with your mobile phone choice and your provider. It's important that you proactively seek out how to keep your bill lower as your mobile phone provider won't be calling you with a discount on the bill. Here are five ways you can control the costs on your family cell phone bill, and maybe even save as much as a $1,000 in the process.
1) AVOID CONTRACTS! BUY A CONTRACT-FREE PHONE: Do not sign a two-year contract! You will lose money, freedom and convenience. Wireless carriers lure consumers with a 'discounted' phone but make them sign overpriced and restrictive contracts that end up costing them more than $1,000 extra over the life of the contract. Insurance plans on contract free phones are the same. It is true that when you buy a contract free phone you have to pay full price rather than the subsidized rates that carriers offer for a locked phone on a contract. However, that's the trick: those contract deals are deceptive because the consumer ends up paying more than what the phone is worth, and then some in fees. In the long run, the contract-free phone equals great money savings to the consumer. How? Monthly plans on contract free services are almost always much cheaper than comparable plans on contract. (source: GSM)
2) USE A CONTRACT FREE UNLIMITED MONTHLY PLAN: Instead of paying $100-$200 per month for your wireless plan, pay $40-$60 for an all-inclusive, unlimited plan - voice, text, data, the works! Contract free services are offered by some of the bigger contract-based carriers (like T-Mobile) and by carriers that solely offer service without a contract (like Simple Mobile, Boost Mobile, and h2O Wireless). Most of these smaller carriers are known as "Mobile Virtual Network Operators" or MVNO's. This is because rather than having their own network they actually use the network and wireless infrastructure owned by the four large carriers-Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint. The advantage of this is that you get access to the reliable network coverage of a large carrier without getting stuck in an unfair and restrictive contract. A few "contract-free-only" carriers use their own network, such as MetroPCS, and Cricket Wireless. (source: GSM)
3) MAKE SURE YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT MINUTES PLAN AND MANAGE YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS WITHIN THE NETWORK: If you are with a large company like Verizon, you might want to consider assessing month to month who you make the most phone calls to every month. This is especially true if you have four or five family members on the same plan. The ten people you choose to put in this category won't count toward your overall minutes and this could keep you to a lower minute plan which could mean $500 or $1,000 a year. Or, if you have been going over your minutes plan consistently, perhaps it's time to upgrade to one level higher for an overall minutes plan. This upgrade could end up costing you less the overage you have been paying on a monthly basis.
4) BUY PARENTAL CONTROLS: Most of the major mobile service providers will allow you to pay something in the range of $4.99 a month to buy parental controls. While this is an extra spend for $60 a year, it can allow you feature like limiting the number of incoming and outgoing texts, data plans, and times when the phone will and won't work for your child. Especially since texting is popular among teens, this can allow you to save a huge chunk of money by not paying overages on data and texting plans.
5) DON'T BUY APPLE: Apple products are the crème-de-le-crème, but their marketing success has actually created an opportunity for consumers. Other amazing similar high-end products had to dramatically lower prices to compete. Visit objective information centers to talk about YOUR needs and pick the best product for YOU. You can find world-class smart phones for under $150 and tablets for under $300. Some people are Apple junkies and they do make fantastic products. However, anytime there is a market leader, it allows for competitors to come in for ways to save you money with potentially competing lower priced products.
Being the CEO of your family finances isn't an easy task. Just analyzing your mobile phone bill could take you an entire afternoon even with the data analysis software on most of the mobile phone provider's websites. This is why it's important to have a quality CFO by your side. The family mobile phone bill (for a family of four or five) can be $200 to $400 a month, so see if you can save a $1,000 a year today!
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc - The Leaders in Gen X & Y Financial Advice
Visit to www.oxygenfinancial.net to request a free consultation with the leading financial experts for people in their 20's, 30's, and 40's in the country.
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