Knowing how much data you actually use is the key to getting the best deal.
As part of our 10-day series on Total Financial Fitness, we’ve developed six quick workouts, inspired by the popular exercise plan that takes just seven minutes a day. Each will help kick your finances into shape in no time at all. Today: The 7-Minute Cell Plan
Dread getting your monthly cell phone bill? There’s a good chance you’re paying for too much data. According to the CTIA-Wireless Association, smartphone users consume an average of 800 MB of data per month—less than the 1GB or larger plans pushed by most cell providers. Here’s how to find out how much you actually need.
0:00: Surf to your wireless provider’s site and log into your account. Look for a tab or section that displays your usage summary. For example, Verizon has a “View My Usage” tab on the left side of the page. Click it, and you’ll see an overview of how many minutes you spent on the phone, how much data you consumed, and how many messages you sent per billing cycle. Print out the totals from three or four months.
2:13: Visit whistleout.com, a site where you can compare various cell plans. The site will prompt you to enter the number of lines you have and select a type of phone. If you’re not in the market for a new handset, choose the “BYO Phone” option.
2:30: Now, grab those usage printouts. Use the sliders in the center of the screen to fill out the largest amount of minutes, data, and texts you used during a single billing cycle. Next, you’ll click through a series of drop-down menus to specify whether you require full-speed data at all times, want a monthly or contract plan, and which provider you use. Click “Compare Cell Plans.”
3:15: WhistleOut will show you a range of cell plans that fit your needs, starting with the cheapest.
4:52: Of course, if you’re thinking of switching carriers, you’ll want to make sure the firm offers adequate coverage where you live and work. Go to Rootmetrics.com, a site that lists coverage maps and quality ratings for the major four wireless carriers and dozens of smaller ones. For local details, search for your metropolitan area.
5:45: Now you have all the information you need to switch to the right plan. Going with a new carrier? Give them a call to sign up. Or, if you want to stick with the same company (or must stick with them, thanks to your contract), have them downsize your plan or point out that a competitor is offering a better plan and request a discount.
Previous 7-minute Workouts: