Whether you've joined the ranks of smartphone users or you're still gripping a cell, what was once a luxury now feels like a complete necessity. But with that dependence often comes a shockingly expensive bill that can make you question whether or not you really need to Tweet from the dock at the cottage. Luckily, we've come up with few to save you money while you stay connected.

IN PICTURES: 8 Financial Tips For Young Adults

The Basics
If you still don't know the ins and outs of the plan you signed, sit down and get to know it. Some plans offer free calls after 5 p.m., others after 7 pm. Keeping an eye on how many daytime minutes you're using can be a pain, but remembering to keep your phone use to after a certain time is much easier - and it will make a huge difference to your bank account. That includes checking your voicemail!

The same goes for texts. It's difficult to keep track of how many texts you've sent each month, but you can just cut down on the useless ones. Sending messages that just have one or two words, like "Thx" or "okie dokes", are useless and can add up on your bill.

Lastly, voicemail and call display normally come at an additional cost, so if you think you can do without, ask your provider to remove them from your plan. And if you can live without call display or voicemail, then you, ma'am, are a rare breed. (For more, check out Top 6 Mindless Money Wasters.)

Many who have entered the smartphone phase of their lives out of curiosity, a love of gadgets or because of a busy career, have also had the terrible experience of opening their first bill for said iPhone or similar device. And most of the time that shocking amount you owe is due to your data use. Remember to join a wireless network whenever you possibly can to avoid using up data. Or, if you're really brave, don't buy a data plan at all. Then you have no option but to go online only when you're in range of a wireless network.

Conversely, just because texting is simple doesn't mean it's the cheapest form of communicating on a smartphone. If you bought an unlimited data plan but your provider is still charging you to text, then send an e-mail - preferably an angry email to your provider for having the gall to charge you extra for texts.

Long Distance
Many providers now offer a "favorites" list of numbers that you can call for free as part of your package. Make a list of the people you call the most locally during the day or long distance during any time. These are likely the numbers you'll want to add to the list. Just make sure you keep a copy of those numbers handy so you don't forget who you can and can't call.

For long distance numbers you call less frequently, buy a calling card or sign up for a VoIP account.

VoIP (which stands for Voice over IP) uses the internet to make calls. Many people are already familiar with Skype and similar networks where you have to be at a computer to make a call. But for a small monthly fee, you can make calls to any number using the technology. And those calls aren't included in the minutes you've paid for with your provider, so you can make those calls any time of the day.

Don't let people make you feel guilty for wanting to use your phone when abroad - being able to communicate with new friends or using online maps can enhance your travel experience and offer you more freedom. But exorbitant roaming fees do not. Before you go, you can buy a prepaid SIM card for specific geographical areas. But make sure your phone is unlocked, meaning it isn't restricted by a specific network or country, before you fork over cash for a SIM card.

If your phone is locked, try Googling your phone's model and the word "unlock," because often this process is extremely simple. If that doesn't work, most providers offer an international roaming service which allows you to make calls worry-free. But again, make sure your phone is compatible with your destination. Sometimes your phone will not support the frequencies that are used wherever your travels take you. (For more travel tips, see Globetrotting On A Budget.)

Just Call and Ask
If you find that even when you follow all of the rules of your contract, you're still getting hosed by your provider, simply try asking them for help. First, call and say that your last bill seemed high, and you'd like to see if there is anything they can do. You may find that you're not even using close to the number of minutes included in your contract, but that you are over-using texts or data. Your provider can make changes to your plan that could bring that bill down to a much more reasonable rate.

If that fails, try taking a tougher stance. Threaten to switch providers if they can't offer you a cheaper plan. Customer service reps are trained to do anything to retain your service - so go on, test their patience! Just remember to make that call on a weekend or in the evening. It will be a long one. (For more, see Cell Phone Evolution.)

Catch up on your financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: The Unrelenting Claw Of Bernie Madoff.

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    How To Save Money When Moving

    Moving doesn't have to be as expensive as you think. Here are some great ways to save money on moving costs.
  2. Stock Analysis

    How Expensive Is Whole Foods, Really?

    Learn about Whole Foods Market, Inc., and discover how Whole Foods pricing actually compares to that of other grocery store operations.
  3. Stock Analysis

    4 Quick Service Restaurants for Your Portfolio

    Learn about the four quick service restaurants with attractive investment theses and growth prospects that can be valuable additions to your portfolio.
  4. Stock Analysis

    What Makes the 'Share a Coke' Campaign So Successful?

    Understand how Coca-Cola implemented the successful "Share a Coke" campaign. Learn about the top three reasons why the campaign was successful.
  5. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 3 Consumer Cyclical Mutual Funds

    Obtain information on, and analysis of, some of the best performing mutual funds that offer exposure to the consumer cyclicals sector.
  6. Stock Analysis

    The 6 Best Dividend Stocks in the Consumer Staples Sector

    Learn about the top six companies that make an attractive investment for investors looking for stocks for dividend income investing.
  7. Investing

    10 Ways to Effectively Save for the Future

    Savings is as crucial as ever, as we deal with life changes and our needs for the future. Here are some essential steps to get started, now.
  8. Investing Basics

    Investing $100 a Month in Stocks for 30 Years

    Find out how you could potentially earn hundreds of thousands of dollars by just investing $100 a month in stocks during your working years.
  9. Investing

    Procter & Gamble Restructures, Sheds 100 Brands

    All businesses face adversity, and Procter & Gamble is no exception. We take a look at recent developments affecting this global giant.
  10. Budgeting

    Key Questions to Ask Before Moving in Together

    Moving in together is a big step. Here are some key financial questions to ask your partner before you make the move.
  1. What does marginal utility tell us about consumer choice?

    In microeconomics, utility represents a way to relate the amount of goods consumed to the amount of happiness or satisfaction ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are some common ways product differentiation is achieved?

    There are many ways to achieve product differentiation, some more common than others. Horizontal Differentiation Horizontal ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How does the trust maker transfer funds into a revocable trust?

    Once a revocable trust is created, a trust maker transfers funds or property into the trust by including them in a list with ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What role does the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) play in the finished product?

    Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) do not typically play much of direct role in determining the finished product. However, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and a VAR ...

    An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is a company that manufactures a basic product or a component product, such as a ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Generally speaking, the retail sector is highly seasonal. Almost invariably, sales in the retail sector are highest in the ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  2. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  3. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  4. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  5. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  6. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!