Five Minute Finances #17: Check Your Cell Phone Minutes

Five Minute FinancesFive Minute Finances is a series of tips on how you can save significant money or reorganize your financial life in just five minutes. These tips appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on The Simple Dollar.

Depending on your cell phone plan, you may be paying for far more service than you’re using – or not paying for enough service. Either way, you’re handing the cell phone company money for no good reason, and you can eliminate that by just keeping simple tabs on your cell phone usage.

If you’re using Verizon or T-Mobile, you can have your minutes in your web browser window. Just check out the Verizon Minutes Used Firefox plugin or the T-Mobile Minutes Used Firefox plugin to track your minutes. Both are quite useful for keeping track of how many minutes you’ve used without any effort. These both require that you’re using the Firefox web browser – there is no alternative for IE users.

Take a detailed peek at your cell phone bills. Make sure you’re not getting dinged with overage charges or other such charges. If you never see any and are using far fewer minutes than you’re paying for, that’s also a concern.

Call up your cell phone provider and ask for a plan change. If you’re going over your minutes every month, it’s almost always cost-effective to pay a bit more each month for a plan that includes those minutes. On the other hand, if you’re nowhere near your limit each month, then you can save some cash by dropping your total minutes down a bit.

I usually check this every six months or so; it takes about three minutes to figure out if a change is needed and about two minutes more to make that change. In just five minutes, I can often save $60 over the course of six months, which is a very healthy time investment.

While you’re at it, you might also drop any extras from your plan that you don’t use. I send maybe ten text messages a month, but at one time I was paying for unlimited text messaging. Dropping this down to a very small allotment of messages saved me some additional cash.

Trent Hamm

Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.