8 Ways to slash your cellphone bill

Over the past year our family has cut our cellphone bill by 35 percent. We cut our bill by around $50 a month saving us $600 a year!

Today I thought I would share with you some tips and tricks for cutting cellphone costs. 

1. Consider a discount provider. When our contract with Verizon was up we diced we were done with the "big four" (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile.) We had been under contract with two out our of those companies for nine years and our cell phone bill was ALWAYS too much. 

So we switched to StriaghtTalk. I was able to keep my phone (a dino of an iPhone 4) and my number. Jason opted to get a new phone but kept his old number. 

The transition wasn't the smoothest and their customer service is terrible, but our reception was better than it has been in months and we are saving a lot of money. 

I know that programs like Republic offer unlimited talk and text plans for as low as $10 and Cricket has a talk, text and 2 GB of data for just $35 a month. 

These discount providers often "rent" air time and bandwidth from the larger carriers, so the reception is pretty good. Just make sure you check their coverage map online. 

2. Don't pay for phone insurance. Okay, so I am just going to say it, paying for phone insurance is pretty much like standing over the garbage can and ripping up $10 bills. 

True story: Jason (my husband) paid for insurance on his phone for 10 months. Then it broke and he needed it replaced. Our cellphone provider at the time (can you hear me know?) charged him another $75 to get a new phone. 

For those of you who are as bad at math as I am, that is $175 for a phone. That is the equivalent of buying your phone twice. 

3. Call customer service.

It has been my personal experience that calling the customer service 800 number gets me results that walking in the store and asking doesn't get me. Sometimes they have a little more wiggle room to help you. I don't know why, but this has usually worked for me. 

4. Ask for a discount. Last spring when we were still with Verizon, Jason called their customer service line and asked that they give us a one-time discount. We were customers in good standing, always paid our bills on time and had been with them for years. They did it. They gave us a one-time $25 discount. 

5. Ask for a "new package." Do you ever see those discounts for new customers only and get angry because your cellphone bill isn't that low? Well, sometimes if you call and ask they will give it to you. We also did this before switching phone companies and it worked. We asked to be moved to a new package at a lower rate and they did it. 

But note, these things only work if you're polite and you have a history of paying your bill on time. 

6. Ask them to wave fees. If you get a new phone sometimes you have to pay an activation fee or  shipping costs. But I have also found (and really this should just fall under a section called BE POLITE) if you ask nicely and remind them you have been a loyal customer, they will wave these fees. 

7. Don't pay for extras you don't use. Remember a few points ago when I mentioned not paying for cellphone insurance? While you're at it get rid of that roadside assistance and information calling feature. You don't need it. 

8. Consider if you really need that much data or any at all. I am considering getting rid of my iPhone and moving to a "dumb phone." It would save me about $15 a month and I often find myself scrolling through the internet or checking my email when I really don't need to. 

Think about it? Just a decade ago we didn't even have the internet on our cellphones and a few years before that we weren't carrying phones at all. 

What about you? What tips do you have for cutting cell phone costs?