Unlimited data, texting, and talking are a pipe dream for some, especially the unlimited data. Cell phone companies used to offer unlimited data, but now only a lucky few have been grandfathered in and the rest of us have had to pay larger amounts of money for smaller amounts of data. Since I am a full-time blogger/writer, I find having a smartphone to be an important, tax-deductible business tool. I have my smartphone plan through Verizon, and was upset to find at renewal that unlimited texting has increased from $5 to $10. Amazingly, I also found myself reaching first 50%, then 75%, and then 90% of my 2 gigabytes of data by around three quarters of the monthly cycle (more on that later). Talk about limiting my online experience!
The good news is that I have researched ways to expand my smartphone’s package without costing more than $0.99. I’d like to share these tips with you in case you are feeling limited by your cell phone or smartphone’s package (and don’t wish to upgrade).
Decreasing and Expanding Your Data Usage
In July of last year I had a conversation with a Verizon rep about the amount of data I was using on my phone. They gave me lots of great tips on how to decrease my data usage. If you have this problem as well, you might want to start by figuring out which apps are using up the most data. You can do this through the settings on your phone, or download the free data usage app Onavo Count.
- Turn off Various Applications on Phone: I learned that there are applications running in the background of my phone that were eating up lots of data. After learning that the police can still locate your phone in the event of an emergency without the GPS function, I turned this off. I also turned off my background data (on Android it is under the Gmail tab>menu>account>menu>account settings).
- Connect with Your WiFi: It turns out that if you are connected to WiFi, then you are not using your own data on your plan. Hurrah! I learned how to sign my phone up to our WiFi at home (on my Android phone, it’s located under Settings>Wireless & Networks). Now when I am home or at a location with free WiFi, I simply sign on and my own data allowance is not dinged.
Expanding Your Text Allowance
- WhatsApp: For $0.99 you can download this app and use it to text family and friends as much as you want without ever costing you another dime (it uses your internet connection). This is available for all smartphones. Also, anyone that you text would need to download this app in order for you to text them.
- Kik: This is a free app that allows you to send free text messages to others who have also downloaded the application.
- Text through Games: At any point in time I typically have free games going with several family members (Words with Friends and Ruzzle are my current games). The great thing is that there is a text messaging function within these games, so I usually just text them for free.
Decreasing the Amount of Minutes You Use
I get a total of 450 minutes per month on my current phone plan. Fortunately for me, I do not like to talk on the phone a lot. But for someone in my situation—I have a lot of family and friends who live far away from me—the potential to go over minutes each month is pretty high. Here are some ideas for people who need to expand their allotted minutes.
- Download the Skype App: You can download the Skype app for your phone or your laptop, and talk with people via video for free!
- Check Your Plan: Perhaps you have free holidays or free nights/weekends with your phone plan. If you do, try to schedule conversations around these times. Be sure to read the fine print to find out what time is considered “night”, and when your free time begins on weekends/holidays. Some plans also allow you to speak for free to certain people, such as among other users of the same plans, or a circle of family/friends that you choose.