How to Slash Your Cell Phone Bill

These seven steps will lower the amount you pay, without hurting your service.

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When it comes to easy ways to save money, there is no better place to start than your cell phone bill. After adding two cell phones to our account for our teenagers and a wireless card for my business, I got nauseous the first time I open our new monthly cell phone statement. So we looked into ways to cut our bill and found several steps that just about anybody can take to lower the cost of their cell phone service. Some of these ideas take a little effort, but in the long run, you can really save a bundle.

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1. Consolidate: If you have more than one cell phone provider for the mobile phones in your home, consolidate. Every cell phone carrier offers discounts for multiple phone lines. You also get the added convenience of one monthly bill. We consolidated our lines about a year ago and reduced our overall cell phone costs significantly.

2. Employer Discounts: Many employers have worked out special pricing with major cell phone carriers. My employer offers discounts to AT&T, for example, which can save us about 10 percent off the regular cost of service. If you are not sure whether your employer offers these discounts, check with your human resources department or consult your benefits plan.

3. Promo Codes and Specials: Cell phone carriers continually run specials and offer promotional codes for new service. Many of these deals are available only if you purchase your phone and service online. So if you are in the market for a new phone, take advantage of these offers. Some of the more popular carriers with regular promotions include Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

4. Get Unlimited Texting (Or Not): Particularly with teenagers in the house, it’s important to assess your texting plan. Most cell phone carriers offer multiple plans, including plans with a set number of text messages and plans with unlimited texting. With plans offering a set number of text messages, you will be charged for any messages over the limit. If you go over the limit regularly, an unlimited plan may be the best option. We upgraded to an unlimited plan for our children and make them pay the extra monthly cost of about $10 each.

5. Rethink Data Plans: Data plans are expensive. I carry the iPhone, and there are plenty of times when I question whether the data plan is worth the cost. The time to decide whether you need the added expense of a data plan is when you buy the phone. Smartphones generally require a data plan. But if e-mail and surfing the net are not a necessity, consider saving a bundle by skipping these expensive options.

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6. Examine Your Bill: A service offered by Validas can automatically evaluate your monthly cell phone bill and recommend ways to cut costs. You simply upload your monthly statement, and Valida will analyze your bill to determine if you have the most cost effective cell phone plan. You can see the potential cost savings for free, and there is a small fee to get access to the complete report.

7. Consider a Quad-Play: You may have heard of a triple play, which is when you get TV, Internet and phone service from the same provider. By bundling these services, you can save a significant amount of money. Last year, Verizon began offering a quad-play, which adds wireless phone service to the package. Last month, AT&T introduced a quad-play option. The savings can be substantial, and you get the benefit of having to deal with just one monthly bill.

DR is the founder of the popular personal finance blog, the Dough Roller, and author of 99 Painless Ways to Save Money.