If you want to be part of the modern world, having a smartphone is almost as essential as food and shelter.
It provides instant access to online information, gives you a pocket-sized camera for capturing events and keeps you connected with the people you care about. This is how many people justify pricy monthly contacts that eat away a chunk of their budget every month. In most cases, though, you can get everything you need from your phone without the hefty price tag.
Out of contract? Get yourself a cheaper SIM
If your contract is over, you may be paying well over the odds for the package you receive. Assuming your mobile phone is still in working order, avoid upgrading and instead start shopping around for a new SIM. There are some incredible deals out there, with companies offering unlimited texts and calls and a hearty chunk of data for often as little as 15 quid.
Unlimited texts and calls are now pretty cheap, and it’s usually a desire for more data that drives costs up. Limit your data use by making sure you’re connecting to WiFi whenever it’s available (e.g. at cafés, shopping centres, offices and even friend’s/family’s houses).
Buy your new phone outright
While we definitely recommended holding onto your old phone as long as it’s still working, there will come a time when you need to upgrade. First of all, be realistic about what features you actually need. Assuming you want a relatively modern smartphone but don’t need all the bells and whistles, you should only be paying around £150 – £300. This will still get you a decent camera, features such as a fingerprint scanner and facial recognition and plenty of processing power for all your apps. The only exceptions would be people using their phones to create professional creative content, or those planning to do heavy duty mobile gaming.
If you’re happy to get a cheaper handset, then it’s a good idea to try and buy a sim-free model outright, rather than locking into a contract. A contract will see you paying lots of unnecessary interest, therefore spending more long-term. If you can either save for the cost of your new phone or buy it using an interest free credit card, you’ll be getting a much better deal (and you can shop around for a cheap SIM or even just keep your old one).
Look for ‘family’ bundles
Network providers are always looking for ways to poach new customers, so there are often discounts available if you refer a friend or family member. Check with your service provider whether they can do you a deal if you get everyone in your household signed up with the same company. Similarly, companies that offer other services will often have promotions available exclusively for their customers. So if you use Virgin Media, for instance, you can get a cheaper deal with a Virgin Mobile SIM.
As a bonus tip, we would encourage everyone to stop keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to getting the latest smartphone technology. Unless you’re a content creator using your phone to produce high quality videos, there’s really no reason why you should need the hottest new tech. In most cases, a mid-tier model or a phone from a couple of years ago should meet all of your needs. Once you start seeing your phone as a functional tool rather than a status symbol, you’re less likely to find yourself breaking the bank.