Sure you love your smartphone, but you might be spending a small fortune on it each year. A $100 monthly cell phone contract adds up to $1,200 each year — a whopping $12,000 a decade. Cable television bills are nothing to laugh about, either. Some 79 percent of American households with televisions sign up for a pay-TV service, even though cheaper alternatives exist.
You too can slash these unnecessary expenses from your budget.
Problem: Your Landline
If you buy basic landline services, you are likely paying between $15 and $30 per month for something you no longer need.
The number of Americans that owned smartphones in 2017 reached 77 percent and the number is steadily climbing. If you already have solid cell service in your home and workplace, there is no obvious reason to keep paying for a landline.
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Solution: Get Rid of It
Cutting that landline might not get you all the way to your savings goals. But remember, when you are trying to reduce your monthly expenses, every little bit counts.
Problem: Your Phone Provider
When it comes to cellphone service, your loyalty could be costing you. In fact, those who stay with one provider too long often wind up overpaying for the privilege.
Consumer Reports surveyed almost 90,000 of its subscribers who had recently switched phone providers. According to the report, almost 50 percent of the people who switched saved money as a result.
Solution: Switch Phone Providers
And we’re not just talking peanuts. Consumer Reports said many switchers saved $20 or more per month. And, as an added perk, they got better, more reliable coverage, improved customer service and faster data.
For best results, stay on top of your cellphone service by knowing what you pay and what you get for it. And find out what the competition is offering to make sure you aren’t paying more for less.
Problem: Your Cellphone Contract
You might be paying for services you don’t actually need if your cellphone bill is sky high.
The new, no-contract plans from existing companies offer great savings for people who don’t require all the frills. If all that’s important to you is having a reliable, easy-to-use phone, you will likely pay less without a contract.
Solution: Try a Cheaper, No-Contract Plan
Don’t just look at the bigger phone service providers. Check out budget brands like Boost Mobile and Cricket, which might give you more for less. How much you’ll save depends on what you pay now. But some carriers offer plans for as little as $30 per month.
Problem: Your Data Usage
When you select your cellphone coverage, you probably want unlimited talk and text, plus some data. The amount of data you need is a big factor in determining your monthly bill.
Data requirements depend on a number of facto rs. If you have WiFi at home and in the office, you can get away with a lot less data. If you’re a gamer, or regularly stream or download movies or television shows, you’ll likely need more.
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Solution: If Possible, Buy a Family Plan and Share Data
Whether you use your phone for a little WiFi here and there or you’re a hardcore gamer, a family plan in which you split data may be the ticket. Right now, MetroPCS, Boost Mobile, Cricket and Sprint all offer four lines of unlimited data for $100 a month. Sprint even throws in a fifth line at no cost, and as an added bonus, if you switch to Sprint from Verizon, you and your family could get a whole year for free.
Problem: Your Monthly Bill
Your monthly bill is expensive and you might not know how to lower it without switching to a new provider or plan entirely. Having all the relevant information in front of you makes real negotiation about your bill possible.
Solution: Do Your Research and Negotiate
Before calling your current provider, find out the cheapest price available for the services or package you want. You should also try to find a “new customer” rate. The rates listed on the company website might be for existing customers.
If your provider offers a lower possible rate in your area, insist on getting it. If another carrier has a better bargain, use this information to leverage a better deal. If all else fails, you can move your account to a competitor.
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Problem: Your Cable TV Plan
A Netflix streaming-only subscription starts at $7.99 a month for basic service and goes up to $13.99 a month for the premium option. Under the latter plan, you can stream entertainment on up to four separate devices at the same time.
Streaming services like Netflix might offer better service for less money than traditional cable channels on television. And you won’t have to watch commercials. Additionally, Netflix offers new and intriguing original programming for you to enjoy.
Compare the prices and the shows you’re getting for your cash if money is tight and you’re paying for both HBO and Netflix. Then choose one service and cancel the other.
You can cut your costs even further by sharing one premium plan with three of your closest friends. Is this legal? Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in the past that sharing your password for the streaming service is just fine.
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Problem: You Don’t Want to Stream Everything
If you aren’t ready to give up your regular entertainment options in favor of streaming, here’s another idea: dump your cable service and sign up for satellite.
Satellite TV tends to be cheaper, because providers usually avoid taxes imposed by local government. Cable companies have to pay these taxes and often pass the expense on to consumers. In addition, satellite TV infrastructure is smaller and less costly.
Solution: Sign Up for Satellite TV
According to the website Lifewire, though cable might offer great deals the first year to get your business, they generally raise the cost the following year. On the other hand, satellite television offers lower costs consistently. Last month, Reviews.org similarly showed that by switching from Cox (cable) to DIRECTV (satellite), for instance, you could save $29.99 a month and actually gain more channels in the process.
Make it a late New Year’s resolution for 2018 to cut down your cellphone and cable costs, and start socking those savings away in the bank.
Click through to find out which habits you should cut out in 2018.
More on Saving Money and Budgeting
- Dumb Expenses You Need to Slash From Your Budget Now
- 15 Easy-to-Use Budget Templates
- Here’s How Much Americans Have in Savings in Every State
- Watch: This Frugal Couple Ditched the 9 to 5 to Live Their Dream Life
About the Author
Lawyer, writer and world traveler, Teo Spengler splits her home time between San Francisco and France. She has specialized in travel, legal and business writing for the past 15 years. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Arizona Central, Fairmont Hotel Blog, Fairmont Moments, Houston Chronicle, Jet Blue.com, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites.