In 1983, Motorola made history when they produced the world's first commercial portable cell phone. The phone weighed about two pounds and cost almost $4,000 for 30 minutes of talk time. That was quite an investment for early adaptors of this technology. Today, cell phones are much “smarter”; they are smaller and much more convenient. They do everything from making calls to streaming videos and sending emails to playing games.
Though the initial investment of a mobile phone is not what it used to be 30 years ago, our new technology does come with a price. And just because you can afford the monthly bill, doesn’t mean you should be spending a large cost.
For owner-operators a cell phone is a necessity, so if you’re looking for ways to save money by lowering your cell phone bill, here are some ideas:
- Cut the insurance. Do some research; it may make more financial sense to go without an insurance plan. For example, an insurance plan from Asurion for the iPhone 5 includes an $8.18 bill per month. Over a two-year contract, $196.32 in monthly fees will be accumulated plus they have a $199 deductible. So you're paying close to $400 to protect yourself from a $600 or $700 replacement cost. Instead of insurance, buy a good protective case and handle your smartphone carefully. If you feel insurance is necessary, then you’ve probably bought a smartphone you can’t afford for your budget.
- Negotiate. When shopping for a new phone, don’t assume the price is non-negotiable. Talk with a salesperson to see if the activation fee or upgrade fee can be waived. If you’ve been a long-time, loyal customer, bring that up. Use whatever leverage you have, including fees, or the lack of fees, from competitors.
- Buy out-of-contract. Cell phone companies are in the business to make money. One-way they make lots of profit is through requiring contracts. Two-year contracts are commonly required to use certain carrier’s services. Switching carriers while under contract means you’ll get hit with a large cancelation fee. So buy out-of-contract, gently used phones. Ask around. Look online. You probably won’t get the coolest, newest smartphone, but you can get a good phone without locking yourself into one carrier for years. One popular out-of-contract plan is Walmart’s Straight Talk plan. It is only $45/mo for unlimited calls, texts, and data. Often when a full year in paid in advance, you receive one month free.
- Cut out stuff you don’t use. This might seem like common sense, but many people don’t look at their smartphone bill. Paying for things never used, like emergency roadside assistance, 411, and “enhanced voicemail” is wasteful. Take a look at your bill and determine if you need everything listed on it.
- Claim your smartphone as a tax deduction. As an owner-operator, you use your smartphone for business and can claim the business use of your phone as a tax deduction. If 30 percent of your time on the phone is spent on business, you could legitimately deduct 30 percent of your phone bill. Alternatively, you could get a second phone number and use it exclusively for business. Make sure to discuss the details of how this specific deduction works with your tax advisor.
Every dollar counts when you are an owner-operator. Cut down on the costs of your smartphone ownership and put those savings towards a good cause.
What ways do you save on your smartphone bill? Tell us in the comments below.