Overspending is hardly a rare problem in the U.S. According to a LendingTree survey, nearly 40% of all Americans overspend to impress others.
But shoveling out money with the intention of wowing people (or competing with the Joneses) isn’t the only way we tend to overspend; we also do it without proper explanation or motive. For example, many of us knowingly overspend on monthly bills — one bill, in particular.
According to new research by WhistleOut and Mint Mobile, 1 in 3 Americans say they know they’re overspending on their monthly cell phone bills.
Telling Americans to simply stop overspending on their bill — without providing ways to do that — appears to be completely unhelpful, especially since phone carriers are constantly hiking their prices. The aforementioned new report found that 28% of Americans report that their monthly cell phone bills increased in the past year. This isn’t shocking. Since 2013, cellular service has increased in cost by 36.25%, the survey highlights.
How can consumers save money on their cell phone bills? Let’s find out.
Understand Data Storage
The first thing we should all do to save money on our cell phone bills is to fully understand data usage and our patterns surrounding it. Do you really need all that data? Think about it.
“By understanding their data usage patterns, Americans can avoid overpaying for data they don’t actually use,” said Baruch Silvermann, financial expert and CEO of The Smart Investor. “Many individuals pay for unlimited data plans, assuming they need a large amount of data; but, in reality, the majority of Americans use less than 15GB per month.”
By accurately assessing our data needs (versus wants), we may be motivated to switch to more cost-effective plans that better align with our actual data usage and “potentially saving over $50 per month,” Silvermann said.
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Uncover Hidden Fees
Many bills contain hidden fees that can create unintentional, chronic overspending.
“Take the time to scrutinize your bills and look for any undisclosed charges or fees that may have slipped under the radar,” said Sara Sharp, founder and partner at SK&S Law Group. “Contact your service provider and inquire about these fees, as negotiating their removal can result in significant savings.”
Reconsider Whether You ‘Need’ Insurance
Be it for travel or for pets, insurance is a frequently recommended way to save costs. But is it necessarily budget friendly? Not always.
Consider that if your phone is damaged or lost, you’ll most likely still have to pay a deductible to fix it or get a new phone. Given this, insurance may not be worth it. Additionally, usually not all types of damage are covered by insurance.
Switch to a Joint Account or Family Plan
Are you and your spouse living under the same roof but paying for entirely separate phone bills? A joint account or family plan could save you some money on your monthly cell phone bill.
Explore Other Carriers — Including MVNOs
Another key way to potentially save on your cell phone bill is to explore other carriers — especially lesser-known players in the space.
“Consumers should consider switching from major carriers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile to smaller carriers known as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs),” Silvermann said. “These companies often provide similar coverage at lower costs.”
Most of us aren’t in the loop about MVNOs. The new survey found that only 1 in 10 Americans plan on switching from a major carrier to an MVNO in 2023.
“[MVNOs] can offer viable alternatives for reducing monthly expenses,” Silvermann said. “Take the time to research and compare different cell phone plans offered by various providers. Look for plans that align with your usage patterns and budget. By exploring options beyond the major carriers, you may find more cost-effective plans that meet your needs.”
Consider that changing carriers has become easier than it once was.
“In the past, switching phone service providers was a hassle,” said Joshua Richner, marketing director at National Legal Center. “You had to cancel your old plan, activate your new plan and transfer your phone number. But today, the process is much simpler. Most carriers will let you port your phone number over to their network, so you can keep your existing number when you switch.”
Embrace the Power of Negotiation
You may recognize the power of negotiation when it comes to your salary, but do you tap into it when it comes to your monthly bills? You should.
“Whether it’s your cell phone provider, cable company or even insurance provider, don’t hesitate to negotiate for better rates or discounts,” Sharp said. “Providers are often willing to negotiate, especially if you are a long-term customer or have a strong payment history. Be prepared to switch providers if necessary, as this can provide leverage during negotiations.”
Don’t forget that the power of negotiation can work for other bills, too, including your monthly utility bills.
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