Are you curious to know what other people are paying for their bills? We’re teaming up with readers to find out who is paying what, and share the best tips for saving money.
Queensland woman Frances has a demanding schedule, including full-time work, a busy social life and team sport, and she co-ordinates it all while keeping her phone bill below $20 a month.
That is a whopping two-thirds lower than the national average.
“I feel most young people simply accept a large bill because it’s just easier, and it’s become the norm to have a high bill,” says Frances, 25, who has always had a pre-paid phone.
“Although it takes minimal effort to convert to a smaller bill, people succumb to inertia and just stay with the same bill they’ve always had. People pay for convenience but you also pay for ignorance. Phone companies know how to target their marketing, so don’t get suckered into paying a higher bill for something you don’t use.”
What is she paying?
“Over the last year, my phone has cost $210. This is an average of $17.50 per month,” she says. Frances uses a Samsung Galaxy S4, “bought second-hand”, she says proudly.
As part of the Optus Crew Cap, she buys $30 of credit to last 60 days. It includes $100 of credit and bonus credit, and $100 of Optus-to-Optus call value, and free SMS to other Optus mobiles.
“It only includes 100MB of data, so I only really buy data when I’m going on holidays and want to keep in touch.”
How does she do it?
“I try to use wi-fi as much as possible … it’s very rare that I’m without a wi-fi connection, so I mainly use apps like Facebook or Viber to message or call people.”
Frances says she makes the most of her home internet, a bill she is already paying, instead of accruing a large phone bill.
“If I go on holidays and I’m desperate for the internet, I can buy 1GB of data for $10. Although this is an expensive way to use data, I don’t use it often enough to worry about the cost.”
Frances says a lot of her older friends have quite cheap phone plans. “It’s mainly younger people who are surprised at how much I spend on my phone.”
How you can do it
• Hang on to your old handset or buy second-hand when it comes time to update your mobile device.
• Use wi-fi or the internet as much as possible.
• Experiment with a no-spend month to see just how low you can go!
• Find apps like WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook Messenger that replace text messages and phone calls – they’re free, and it’s rare to be away from an internet connection.
• Sign up for a plan that allows you to share data across multiple devices, for example, with your phone and tablet, or with your partner’s phone.
• Review your data usage and revise your plan up or down accordingly.
• If you use your phone for work, don’t forget to claim the work-related portion as a tax deduction.
• Reduce your data usage while away from a wi-fi connection by disabling automatic downloads, wi-fi assist functions, background app refresh and data-thirsty apps such as music streaming.
• Stick to no-contract plans and keep shopping around. There’s always a deal going, and switching to a new plan is a quick, painless process.
How low have you gotten your phone bill? Let us know in the comments!