It’s an all too common scenario: you spend the majority of your time glued to your mobile phone and then are faced with a massive shock when your phone bill arrives at the end of the month and it’s far higher than you’ve budgeted for. While we all love to spend commuting hours and lazy evenings scrolling through Twitter, streaming videos and chatting with friends, many of us don’t realise just how expensive all of this mobile usage can be until the difficult (and very expensive) reality arrives in the post.
Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways to manage your mobile phone bill budget more effectively before an extortionate bill comes along to ruin your plans for a summer holiday abroad. By being more aware of the way you use your phone you can bring down your costs dramatically, saving money and helping you to manage your finances overall.
Know Your Limits
Before you sign up for any new mobile phone contract, make sure you’re fully aware of what’s included in the tariff. If the mobile plan doesn’t provide exactly what you need on a monthly basis then considering upgrading to a slightly more expensive plan- this will work out cheaper in the long run than consistently exceeding your allotted minutes, texts and data and being hit with a massive bill for going over your contract.
Many people aren’t actually aware of how much data they get through on any given day, and enter into contracts assuming that it will be sufficient for their usage without really knowing how much they use. This can lead to nasty surprises when you carry on with your normal downloading, chatting and browsing without realising you’re going over your tariff.
It’s easy to track how much data you’re using by downloading an app onto your phone that keeps an eye on how much data you get through each day. Check how much data you’ve used before signing any new contract, and use the app to keep an eye on your usage throughout the month to be sure that you’re not going over and getting hit with extra charges without realising.
This also applies to text and call limits- track your usage on your phone throughout the month to keep an eye on how close you are to your limits- your phone should have a timer that shows how many minutes you’ve used so far, so keep call time down if you’re approaching your maximum to avoid a larger phone bill than expected.
Find a Hotspot
If you don’t have unlimited data included in your mobile tariff plan, try to avoid using excess data whenever possible. Accessing Wi-Fi in public places is a really easy way to surf the web, download media files and use services like Skype and Whatsapp for free, so you won’t rack up MBs without realising that you’re quickly draining your allocated data away.
Look out for signs for Wi-Fi hotspots wherever you go- you’ll often find that coffee shops, trains and shopping areas have plenty of free internet access on offer, so disable your internet connection until you’re in one of these areas and you could save a fortune on your phone bill.
One of the easiest and most common ways that people end up overspending on their phone bill is by using their mobile phone abroad. International roaming costs can quickly spiral out of control, especially when you’re accessing the internet, allowing emails to come through and apps to update when you’re away from home.
After you’ve triple checked that you’ve got your passport in your bag and your flight booking to hand, the next most important thing to do is to switch off data roaming on your phone. Once this feature is switched off your phone won’t allow any data to come through, preventing unnecessary charges.
Use free Wi-Fi in hotels and cafes to check emails and keep up to date with what’s going on at home, and try to avoid making unnecessary phone calls or sending texts- these can be surprisingly expense. If you’re travelling in the EU then you’ll be able to benefit caps on roaming costs, but prices remain high on international roaming across the rest of the world.
If you travel frequently then you may be able to bring your costs down by purchasing a special network roaming plan. These bolt-ons should allow you to access data, send texts and make phone calls abroad without racking up huge charges, and could be a major money saver if you’re often overseas and can’t avoid using your mobile phone. The prices and tariffs on roaming plans vary from network to network, but they’ll almost always be cheaper than travelling with your usual contract and using your phone on the move.