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For most of us, it’s nearly impossible to imagine life without a cell phone tucked in our pocket or purse at all times. But this new necessity can be a costly addition to anyone’s budget (more than $90 a month for the average smartphone user), even if you don’t have the latest and greatest model at your fingertips. If your cell phone bill is higher than you’d like it to be, here are some ways that can help you lower that monthly expense.

Kick Contracts to the Curb — Being tied to a multi-year cell phone contract was once the way to ensure you were getting a great deal on the latest phones, but not anymore. These days, it’s smarter and more cost-effective to forgo the contract and buy your new phone through an installment plan. Once the phone is paid off, your bill will be that much less every month.

If you’re stuck in a contract with heavy termination fees, look at the other plans that carrier offers to see if you can lower your monthly bill, or see if another carrier is willing to buy out the remainder of your contract to allow you to switch.                    9952060

Don’t Overpay for Data — Chances are, you may be paying for data every month that you never use. Sure, it’s tempting to sign up for a lot of data just to be safe. But if you’re connected to wi-fi more often than not, all that excess data ends up being a big waste of money. Try gradually dropping down data plans each month until you find the one that’s closest to your actual usage.

Avoid these Data Drainers —When you are using data instead of wi-fi, try to avoid the following activities that gobble up data quickly. They include: streaming music and HD video, making video calls, and playing video games.

Consider Lower Cost Carriers — There was a time when the lower cost carriers had a reputation for dropped calls and terrible customer service. But they have stepped up their game and are now viable players. The savings come not only in the cost of the plans, but on the phones themselves. They generally don’t carry the most current models, but if that’s not a concern to you, you can find some great deals and save a lot every month.

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