4 Easy Ways to Save on Your Cell Phone Bill

It’s amazing how quickly we’ve all become addicted to our smartphones.

I didn’t even own a cell phone until 2006. Ten years later, I’m officially a smartphone junkie. Whenever there’s a lull in the conversation for even a millisecond, I’ve got my phone out of my pocket looking up the latest nonsense happening on Twitter. How anybody killed time before having a smartphone is a mystery that’ll never be solved.

With our fancy cell phones come a big financial commitment. People routinely spend at least $100 per month on talk, text, and data plans. I find this preposterous. There’s no reason to pay that much, yet millions of Canadians do.

Here’s how you can save money on your cell phone bill.

Shop around

I’m amazed at the number of people who refuse to go with one of Canada’s low-cost cell phone providers, choosing instead to give their cash to Telus, Bell, or Rogers.

Switching to Fido, Koodo, Virgin Mobile, Public Mobile, or any other discount carrier is an easy way to knock $10 or $20 per month off your bill. The best part? These discount carriers are owned by the big guys and use the same network. I’ve been a Koodo client for about a year now, which is owned by Telus and uses Telus’s network. I’ve never had an issue with signal quality or dropping calls.

If you insist on going with one of the “big three”, make sure you go with the one that provides other services so you can at least get a bundle discount.

The best time to shop around is during the holidays. That’s when all the providers are trying really hard to woo new customers, since it is their busiest time. You’d be surprised how many people give the gift of a recurring liability to their loved ones.

There’s one problem with shopping around. You can’t do it while on a contract. Which brings me to the second way to save money.

Don’t get a contract

On the surface, getting a phone contract is a great deal. The phone company lets you buy a piece of technology interest-free in exchange for committing to use their network. Anytime somebody lets you use their money for free, you should do it.

But there’s one big problem with having a contract, and that’s the inability to switch to a different provider. You can’t take advantage of exclusive deals for new customers if you’re forced to stay with one provider.

The other thing the phone company counts on is you forgetting about the contract. Some providers are nice about it and only charge extra for the amount of time it takes to pay off the phone. Others aren’t, and will hold you to a more expensive contract as long as you’re a customer.

Monitor usage

I’d be willing to bet that 80% of us regularly don’t even get close to using our data caps.

I realized this a couple of years ago. I had two gigabytes of data as part of my plan. After looking at my usage for the previous six months, I discovered I never even got close to using all my data. In fact, I hadn’t even gone past one gigabyte. I immediately downgraded to an inferior plan and saved $10 per month.

It’s the same thing with unlimited minutes. I hate talking on the phone. If somebody calls me, I’m doing my best to shoo them away. My voicemail tells people that they’re far more likely to get a response if they text or email me.

So why would I have unlimited minutes? There’s no good reason for it, so I dropped that part of my plan too.

Even if you go over one month, the penalties for doing so are less than if you’re continually paying for service you don’t use.

Call and complain

Many people who are happy with their providers don’t really want to go through all the hassle of changing. But they’d like to get the same kinds of deals as new customers. What’s a person to do?

The answer is simple. Just call into your provider and ask for a better deal.

You’re not likely to get much with the first person you call. Front-line customer service reps have very little freedom to offer anything but a token amount. Ask to be transferred to a manager or a someone in the customer retention department.

These are the people who can help you. You might have to threaten to leave to really get the ball rolling though.

Revealed: These Insider Hacks Will Save You Hundreds of Dollars on Groceries

For nearly five years in my youth, I slaved away at a grocery store. I started out as a high school kid, bringing in carts and sweeping the floor, ending as the assistant grocery manager who was regularly left in charge of the whole store.

During the five and a half years I spent working in the industry, I picked up a few tricks of the trade that don’t normally make it into articles like this one. These tips will save you money the next time you go to the store.

Groceries

There’s one really easy way to save money on groceries, at least at the store I worked at. Just find the grocery manager and see if there are any expired products he’s willing to sell to you.

When a product becomes expired on the shelf, the grocery department has to pull it off the sales floor even though most of the time there’s nothing wrong with it. Nobody wants to get chewed out by a customer for having rotten products on the shelf. Yes, many people do believe a product is unfit for consumption as soon as it passes the expiry date.

When it comes to getting paid for expired products, the store is usually out of luck. They have to pull it off the shelf and eat the cost. If you come along and offer to buy these products, often they can be had for pennies on the dollar. The manager just wants to get rid of them.

Next, let’s talk about the Scanning Code of Practice. Most major retailers in Canada are voluntary followers of the code which exists to hold grocers accountable for the accuracy of prices displayed on the shelf.

If you notice an item that isn’t priced accurately, point it out to the cashier. If the price was wrong on the shelf, you get the item for free or $10 off, whichever is less. Pay attention; this happens far more often than you’d think.

Some retailers won’t be very willing to give into a customer quoting the Scanning Code of Practice, but you’ll win if you stand your ground.

Fresh departments

The easiest and best way to save money on produce, meat, and bakery items is to go early in the morning. That’ll give you the best selection of discounted items.

Fresh department managers are way more proactive when it comes to getting rid of close-dated products. Each morning an employee scours the department and marks down any merchandise that is close to expiring. As long as you get there soon after, you’ll have a great selection.

You’ll want to immediately freeze any meat bought with a close expiry date. Most meats can be safely frozen for up to six months without any noticeable effect.

Next, figure out what’s in season. September and October are great times to buy things like apples, blueberries, cauliflower, cucumbers, and a myriad of other vegetables. That produce will be cheaper than usual, so eat away when things are cheap. Come spring, switch to things like oranges, kiwis, potatoes, and carrots.

Meat is somewhat similar. Turkeys and hams will be cheap around Thanksgiving and Christmas, so make sure to stock up while prices are cheap.

Ready to get extreme?

There’s one other way to save some big money on food, something 95% of you will immediately dismiss.

Check out the store’s dumpster out back.

I know, I know. There are a lot of issues with dumpster diving. But we live in a world where stores will throw out perfectly good stuff because it no longer has a spot on the shelf or because it has passed a magical expiry date.

By jumping inside of a dumpster, you’re saving the earth while saving money at the same time. Think of it as your sustainable duty.

Okay, so maybe not on the dumpster diving. Still, now that you have a better idea of the inner workings of a store, saving money on groceries shouldn’t be hard.