Cell Phone Savings: It Pays to be Proactive

I love my cell phone.  I love that my children’s school can reach me if I’m not at home, I love that my husband can call me whenever he’s got a minute, and I absolutely love being able to plan on the fly:- "You call me when you get to the amusement park, and we’ll figure out where to meet."  And I’m happy with my carrier and calling plan.  However, I do make a point to check and make sure that our family’s plan is the best plan for our cell phone usage.  I think I’ve finally hit on the right plan for us, but it took some experimenting.  You should review your plan and usage regularly until you find a plan that meets your needs, and check again whenever your usage changes.  Here’s what to do:

  1. Get a copy of your most recent bills.  Three months if your usage is pretty consistant, more if it is erratic.  (My husband uses his phone a lot when he is TDY, but hardly at all when he is at home.)
  2. Go to your provider’s website and see what deals they are currently offering.  Compare the plans that are being offered with your usage and your current plan.  Some carriers offer an "Analyze My Usage" option that might work for you.
  3. Call you provider and ask what plans they are currently offering.  Ask them to recommend a better plan based upon your usage.  Ask a lot of questions!  In particular, make sure that you can change plans without a penalty and that changing plans doesn’t extend your contract.  Also ask about any special offers for deployed military members.  Will they allow you to freeze one phone of a two phone account while your service member is gone?  Are there any other ways that they can help minimize the costs of maintaining that phone line during deployment?
  4. Consider an independent review.  Validas is a website that allows you to upload a copy of your cell phone bill and it will review it for you.  A preliminary review is free, and for more details you will be asked to pay a $5 fee.  I tried their service recently.  It wasn’t difficult to upload a digital copy of my bill.  Validas claimed that they could save $26 a month on my cell phone bill.  After reviewing this recommendations, I don’t think that they were able to accurately assess my odd plan.  However, I do know several people who have had great success with Validas.  If you’ve never assessed your plan, it might be worth $5 to see what Validas suggests.  I must note that Validas did noticed that I’m paying $1 per month for data services on my husband’s phone, which doesn’t even support data service.  Another independent website that reviews cell phone bills is BillShrink.  BillShrink either lets you estimate your usage or asks for your account information so that they can access your cell phone account online.  BillShrink estimated that there was only one other cell phone plan that might save me money, but it was less than $6 a year and it was with another carrier, which isn’t an option as I’ve still got a year left on my current contract.  BillShrink’s services are free!

With a little research, you may be able to find a less expensive alternative to your cell phone plan, without having to change cell phone companies.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.