Don't just follow the crowd and allow yourself to be robbed by the big mobile networks.
Based on my personal mobile phone experiences, this article will show you nine ways that with not too much effort you can take control of your mobile phone bill and save heaps of money.
1. Get yourself on the right plan
But the lovely salesperson said...
All that interests a salesperson is getting the customer to pay for the most expensive plan as possible. Nine times out of ten this won't be the most suitable plan. Don't listen to the guy or gal in the shop.
If you aren't already on a mobile phone plan, here's a (very) rough guide of what you need:
A pay as you go option might be more appropriate if you think you would use much less than a "basic" user.
If you are already on a mobile phone plan, over the next month monitor how many minutes, texts and MB of data you use. There are various apps (such as "Plan Monitor" on Android and iOS) which do the counting for you. How much you use might shock you. Most people use far less than what they pay for. If this applies to you then beg your provider to downgrade you to a more basic, cheaper plan.
2. Do you need a mobile phone at all?
This is certainly something to consider. For people who work at home all day and are never far away from a good old-fashioned landline, a mobile phone is an expensive waste.
Some companies pay for their employees' mobile phones. This is a perfect way of saving money - just offload the cost onto someone else!
3. Be careful with your data
Think about how you connect to the internet on your smartphone. Certain applications get through far more data than others and going over your data allowance normally results in hefty charges being added to your bill. Here are some examples of the data consumptions of different tasks:
Low use - basic emailing, browsing text-based websites and tweeting.
Medium use - streaming music, refreshing Facebook, downloading email attachments and browsing image-rich websites.
High use - tethering*, streaming video, downloading apps and video chatting (Skype/Facetime)
*Sharing a phone's internet connection with WiFi devices such as laptops and tablets.
4. Squash your browsing
Certain browsers such as Opera Mini (pictured left) use data compression techniques to deliver you a normal browsing experience whilst getting through less of your data allowance. Much less.
Opera Mini claims to cut data usage by 90%. On my phone it has achieved 87% savings.
If browsing is the only time you use your phone to connect to the internet this could save you lots of data. Possibly even enough to put you on a cheaper plan.
An added bonus is that because you are sending and receiving less data the whole browsing experience is massively speeded up. This is great if you only have a 2G signal. No more waiting ten minutes to load a page.
5. Squash everything
Apart from your phone itself - don't do that!
There are mobile apps, for example Onavo Extend, that compress the data used by all of your apps. Not just the browser. You can apparently "save up to 80%" with Onavo.
Unfortunately, this currently only works on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and above so it's not an option if you are one of the many people who still use Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).
There is also an iOS version of this app.
6. Get cash back
If you sign up for a mobile phone contract through a so called "cashback" website, you are paid a substantial percentage of the bill back later.
The two most popular cashback sites in the UK are Quidco and Top CashBack.
On both sites you can get over £100 cashback if you sign up to a two-year mobile phone contract through them.
This is for people who are nearing the end of their current contract. Call up your provider and tell them you will go elsewhere if they don't offer you a better deal. Simple as. They might offer you a deal, they might not. There's nothing to lose.
8. Get free data
Samba Mobile, a fairly new company, gives you 3.5MB of data every time you watch an advert. If you don't mind clicking through a few videos on your PC every so often you can amass more than enough data for general mobile browsing. Bear in mind there is an one-off £5 charge to buy a sim card.
9. Get free calls, texts and internet
A similar company, OVIVO Mobile, lets you use your phone for free. The free service is paid for by browser-embedded adverts and a one-off £20 sign-up fee.
Thanks for reading and good luck saving money...