First Person: Keeping Our Phone Bills Low

Yahoo Contributor Network

I found it interesting that our family spends much less on not only our cell phone bill, but our entire phone related bills in general than the national average. According to a recent article entitled, "Cellphones' bigger budget bite" on MSN Money:

"Consumer spending on mobile phone service has grown significantly since the early part of this century. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spent an average of just $210 per year on cellular service back in 2001. That's less than $20 per month. This figure may strike you as unbelievably low. The average cellphone bill in 2010 was more than $63 per month or $760 per year."

While it might not be "cool", here is how we keep our phone bills from eating further into our budget.

Making a Cell Phone a Want, Not a Need

I'm sure it's easy to let a cell phone start to feel like a necessity. Similar to DVD players, flat-screen televisions, the Internet, DVRs, and all the rest, we can sometimes begin to wonder what we ever did without them. This is one of the reasons why I like to do without many such items until I find a reason for needing them or needing to replace an older version of the item. And once a new version cellphone and service plan can make me more money than I spend upon it, then I'll likely upgrade, but until then, such a phone remains a want, not a need in our family.

Instead, we keep a pay-as-you-go cellphone for emergency and travel purposes handy, which runs us $80 a year.

Maintaining a Landline

While it might not sound hip or trendy, we still maintain a landline. It only costs us about $240 a year, and it's hard to beat that price when we've looked at the costs of cellphones (including the phone itself and unlimited talk plan). This means that when we're out and about, should something happen that requires us to use our cellphone, it's available, but otherwise we wait until we get home to make a call. Up until now, this strategy hasn't put us out too much and has actually ended up saving us money, keeps us safer while driving, and we still manage to hold down jobs and keep in contact with the people who matter most without a fancy cellphone plan.

Just One Cell

We just have our pay-as-you-go one cellphone and that's it. As the kid's get older or if I start working outside the home, than that might change, but for right now, it's all we really need.

This keeps our total phone costs to a minimum. In fact, our total phone costs fall right around $320 a year, less than a tenth of one percent of our annual family budget. With the MSN Money article quoting an average "15% increase in cell phone spending per year from 2001 to 2010", our family has been happy to see our phone costs be cut in half as costs for landline phones decrease and our independence from cellphones compared to the rest of the world seem to increase.

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