A few years ago, I was working quite a bit on the road, and I was managing a few employees. This meant that I was talking a lot on my cell phone. It wasn't uncommon for me to have a $200-300 monthly cell phone bill. Now, I barely spend $30 a year on my cell phone bill. How did I do this? Read on to find out more.
Cell phone use can be addictive. It's easy to spend hours a week on these things, without really noticing it. It's only after the fact, when you get your monthly bill, that you realize how much you have used it. Some professions demand cell phones, and it's not always possible to stop using a cell phone completely. Also, cell phones are great to have around in an emergency or when you're not at home and you want someone to reach you.
In my previous work in finance, I needed to be reachable by clients and employees, as well as my bosses from 8AM to 10PM, especially when I was traveling. In comparison, since 2006, I've spent at the most $100/year on my cell phone bill. Right now, for 2009-2010, I spent $30 and see no reason why I should spend more on it.
The first way tot cut down on your monthly bill is to use text messaging. Yes, it's not easy to use at the beginning, but it costs pennies and it's very effective. Just ask your teenager. The next way is that I got rid of my smartphone and purchased a simple SonyEricsson Cybershot that took decent photos. Instead of sending the photos directly to my blog, I simply connect my phone to my computer and upload them. Takes a little bit longer, bu saves money in the long run since I am not charged for data services. While I do like checking my email and the news, I find that if I check my email a few times a day, it's often enough. I don't need to know immediately when someone sends me an email, even if it's the best way to reach me. Since I use Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero system, my inbox is always empty and people always comment on how prompt and immediate I am with my responses. There are also times when being unreachable is really nice. When I'm out for dinner with my wife, I don't want to be disturbed, so I don't have my cell phone. The same goes when I am out on the bike.
When I need to do some work, I just lug my 13.3-inch laptop with me. It gets the job done, and it isn't too heavy. It's also a lot easier to email and work on it than on a small smartphone screen. Another way of significantly cutting down on costs is by simply switching off your cell phone for some time. I find it liberating. In fact, as an experiment, I had turned off my cell phone for a few months earlier this year and the world didn't end.
Lastly, if you really want to save a whole lot on your cell phone bill, you need to switch to a Pay-As-You-Go plan. When you've spent a set amount of money, your phone stops working. It's a great indicator to tell you how quickly you will spend money talking on your phone. This is harder to do when you operate on a monthly phone plan.
[all photos by Range]