How to save $90 a month on your cell phone bill

I had a very productive call with US Cellular yesterday.

Our two-year contract is about to expire, so I called them this morning to see if we could lower our rates if we don’t get new phones and just keep the ones we got 2 years ago. I have a Samsung Galaxy s3 and I’m still delighted with it after 2 years. Even though Samsung continues to come out with newer and more exciting models, the slight improvements are not worth it if they’re going to cost me a lot of money.

It turned out that if we didn’t get new phones, they would knock about $40 a month off of our bill. This is for two phones: a smartphone and a stupid one.

Then we asked about lowering our data usage. In the last few months, my need to use data has dropped off drastically as I spend most of my time in places with secure wifi. So I dropped my data plan from two gigabytes a month to 300 megabytes a month. that saves me about $45 a month. Even if I go over on a given month – which is unlikely given that I don’t usually come anywhere near 300 megabytes per month unless traveling – the overage charge is only $15 for an additional 300 megabytes. and I would know about those charges ahead of time, because I would get text messages warning me of a potential overage when I’m at 75% and then 100% of my limit.

Thanks to the lower bill total each month, we will also be saving several dollars in sales and federal taxes.

Finally, the customer service representative and I figured out that I have been mistakenly charged for smartphone insurance for the past year. We therefore got a $110 credit on our next phone bill.

All in all, we cut our phone bill by about two-thirds to $50 a month. I’d say it’s a fairly successful day for saving money.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit where it was due: Consumer Reports was my inspiration for asking about these discounts in the first place. If you’ve ever wondered if the subscription price for that magazine is worth it, you have my testimony that it is.

I decided to put some of that savings toward a new cell phone case. My OtterBox Defender is really showing wear – I’ve had to remove the case a few times to take out the battery for a forced restart,  and the silicone skin has stretched and become more and more loose each time. That’s made it harder to press buttons. You can buy a replacement skin on Amazon for just $6, but alas – a few of the closures in the hard portion of the case have also cracked or broken, so I really need to replace the whole thing. (I’m sure the fact that I’ve dropped to the phone down the stairs a few times has probably contributed to that state of things.)

Since the Galaxy s3 is an old model,  it’s hard to find cases in brick-and-mortar stores. But I found plenty online at good prices. I  settled on this brightly colored one from Ballistic:

Maybe it wasn’t as attractive as these:

But I figured it would be hard to lose a bright pink phone. Plus it was only $13, and a free $5 giftcard I got from Swagbucks brought it down to $8. Score!



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