If you aim is to get ahead on your finances in the New Year, you need to start looking at ways to reduce your expenses. One of these includes your mobile phone bill.
According to a recent report, we in the land down under over spend on mobiles by $1.5 billion per year. That is a lot of cash that could probably be better used elsewhere.
Do you know how much you get charged for accessing your voicemail? On one phone plan I had a few years ago when I was scouring my bill I was being charge $2.50 each time. This went above and beyond what was included in my actual plan.
First thing I did and have continued to do is cancel voicemail. In my mind if it is important they will call back and either way you get notification of the number that called you.
Go old school
You can either start choosing the old school method of landline or ditch it altogether. If you are making Australia wide calls to friends and family it might be worth avoiding your mobile for your landline. Rates are getting quite competitive because of the decline of landlines so you might be able to find a provider which offers discounted rates Australia wide.
Alternatively scrap an extra bill and get rid of your landline altogether. If you go this route, make sure your mobile plan includes free time or capped pricing.
All in one
Many of the providers, including Telstra, are now offering bundles where you can get good deals by having mobile, landlines, TV and Internet all together. Make sure you read the conditions of each one and get quotes from multiple suppliers.
If there is one provider you prefer, be it for coverage, reliability or even convenience, see whether they will price match your other quotes. Most carriers are keen for your business so you might be able to negotiate better rates. Particularly if you use your phone for business.
More: Telstra bundles
There has been some wide media coverage in the past couple of weeks about customers who have been hit with massive phone bills after abroad travel even though they barely used their phone. I too have been hit with this with a $1000 bill after being away for a family emergency for 1 week.
Not only that, the person at home who was receiving calls also got hit with $600 worth of costs. If you are travelling turn off roaming or make sure your provider has good deals.
More: Telstra international roaming data plans
Avoid over texting
We are now a world of texters. The other day my partner asked me why didn’t I just make a phone call to a friend when we were texting back and forth 20 times.
The reality is you often can’t convey as much information in a text message so you should be making short calls to avoid eating up time and credits. This goes especially for teenagers who are sending an average of 3000 texts per month. If texting is your vice get a plan which includes unlimited texts.
Use the internet for calls
One of the biggest ways to cut costs especially if you are dialling overseas is to use the internet to phone friends and family. Skype can be used worldwide for absolutely free and you get to have a face to face conversation with someone.
Also look at face time on apple products which you can use your home internet connections to video call others on a similar device.
Cut out the app purchases
It is so easy now to rack up more money with smartphones and apps. Apps which you seriously don’t need and probably don’t use. When I first got an iPhone years ago I was so enthralled by the app store which was connected to my iTunes account that I thought a dollar here and there was cheap.
What happens though is that all those dollars add up to costs above and beyond that of your mobile phone bills. Avoid the apps or at least only get ones which are free.
Use the off button
If your spending habits on your mobile phone continue to go through the roof try turning off throughout the day. If it’s not on you won’t use it. Alternatively try not sending one text for a whole day and instead use email and calls. If you can change the behaviour you might be able to slash the costs.
Know what you have got
The last point which goes above all others is know what is included in your plan and how much every single feature costs. Most of us are not aware of the costs involved, nor do we actually sit down and take a look at our bill. Do yourself a favour and make this a ritual.
If you opt for a cap plan be aware of what is included and what isn’t before signing up for 24 months. Monitor throughout the month what your expenditure has been to make sure you do not exceed cap and data usage.
Also revisit how much you use. I halved my phone bills by reducing to a lower cap plan after my contract period. The shop assistant told me it might end up costing me more, but not once did I ever go over the lower plan.
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Alex Wilson is the founder and editor of Savings Guide, Australia’s number one saving money website. For regular money saving tips, visit Savings Guide or follow Savings Guide on Facebook.