It can be incredibly frustrating to receive your cell phone bill at the end of the month only to find out that you’ve somehow gone over and were charged extra money for your already expensive monthly plan. Cell phone providers have a wide variety of different ways in which they can squeeze a little extra money out of the customer. Sending too many text messages, for example, can sometimes cost you additional money per message once you exceed your allotment. Downloading too much data can trigger the purchase of an extra block of data, which you will no doubt have to pay for per gigabyte. By keeping a few things in mind, however, you can help make sure that you don’t pay any more money for your monthly cell phone bill than you have to.

Do your best to monitor your data consumption throughout a billing cycle. Overages in data consumption are easily among the most expensive ways that you can be hit with additional charges on your bill as you are often billed for every megabyte after you exceed your cap. Many phones, like Apple’s iPhone, allow you to monitor this data consumption through the use of a built-in application. Look for it in the “Settings” area of your phone. Many services also allow you to monitor data consumption through your main account login page, which itself is accessible from your Web browser.

Don’t delete your text messages immediately after you send or read them. Only delete them at the beginning of a new billing cycle. Doing so will allow you to see exactly how many SMS text messages or MMS multimedia messages you’ve sent during a particular month. At any given time you can just add the two numbers together to come up with a total and subtract that number from the total amount of messages available to your plan. You will be able to find out how many more messages you can send in a month without going over in a couple of seconds.

Keep your phone connected to a Wi-Fi network whenever possible. If Wi-Fi is available at your home or at the office, for example, always take your phone off of its data connection and establish a connection with the wireless Internet. Doing so will allow you to freely browse the Internet but won’t count against your monthly data allotment.

Set up alerts online to notify you of potential overages before they happen. Many cellular service providers allow you to receive text messages if you’re about to go over on your data or text message plans, for example. You can set up these alert systems for free right from your main account page.

Use the first month of a contract to find out exactly how much data you’re using and how many text messages you’re sending. Get a plan that covers those amounts. Instead of signing up for the “basic” plan and experiencing severe overages every month, find out how much information you need to send over the Internet and how many text messages you commonly send under normal circumstances. Find a plan that falls within those limits to avoid overages in the future.