SMART SPENDER>TIPID TIPS
The Guerilla Guide to Cell Phone Usage
Spending too much on your phone bills? Follow these tips
By Sherwin Chan
While governments worldwide are scurrying to save their economies by spending, individuals like you and me are saving money by reducing our spending. Cutting spending – both discretionary and nondiscretionary – can be tough as this means a change in lifestyle. And there is none more difficult than modifying our mobile phone usage habits.
We send an average of 15 messages a day per person. In a month, that number sums up to 450 messages. Assuming you are using one of the two dominant providers in the country, you would have consumed your prepaid credit of 300 by the 20th day – just on text messages. Even a postpaid plan of P500 seems inadequate when you consider that you also have to make calls from time to time.
Old numbers, new habits
It is estimated that almost half of the Philippine population already use a cell phone – prepaid or postpaid. This means that most of us are looking for ways to cut down on existing usage costs instead of looking for a new plan. The prepaid subscriber has it easier as he can just stop using his phone and save money instantly. On the other hand, the postpaid subscriber is going to be billed a monthly rate no matter what.
Apart from a monthly rate, if you’re a postpaid subscriber, you are probably still tied up with your two-year contract. You have the option to divorce, but the settlement will leave your jaw dropping. So the only choice left is to find creative ways of keeping the monthly bill at a minimum.
Here are our five guerilla tips for saving on your cell phone bills:
1. Track your calls and texts
The most obvious solution is also the most disregarded. Cell phones today can track both the total minutes of your calls and the total text messages you’ve sent. Since these features are already there, be wise enough to use them.
Moreover, make sure that you turn on the “summary after call” feature of your cell phone. Now, you don’t have to count every minute of your calls. But by being conscious about it, you’ll think twice before you make another call. When you finish a conversation, make sure that you press the end call button even if you are on the receiving end of the call.
2. Call, don’t text
While texting is still cheaper than calling, consider this scenario: ever realize how a simple question of “what you doin?” can lead to a lot of texting back and forth? If you sum it all up, you would have spent more on text than if you just called the person. Apart from that fact, there are promotional call rates out there from Globe Telecom and Sun Cellular.
Both prepaid and postpaid Globe subscribers enjoy special discounted call rates in-network. By adding one of three prefixes before your 10 digit number you can make cheaper calls Globe to Globe. With “235”, you benefit from P10 per three-minute Globe-Globe calls. With “232”, you get 10 centavos per second on Globe to Globe or Touch Mobile calls. And with “236”, you are charged P20 for 20 minutes per call between Globe to Globe or Touch Mobile.
The “235” promo will last indefinitely while the other two promos will end March 2009. To make a call using any of these prefixes assuming your Globe subscriber number is 0917-1234567, just dial – 2359171234567.
The charges applied depend on the type of postpaid plan you have. If you are a G-Plan subscriber, all your calls are charged first to your free minutes. Once your free minutes are consumed you can start enjoying these lower rates; however, they are charged on top of your fixed monthly rate. If you happen to be a G-Flex (consumable plan) subscriber, both the 232 and 235 prefixes are deducted from your bill. The 236 promo on the other hand, will be on top of your bill.
This tip is pointless for Sun subscribers as long as you and your friends are using the same network. Unfortunately, Smart’s text and call promotions are currently available only to prepaid subscribers. This brings us to our next tip.
3. Be on the same network as your friends, family and colleagues
If you happen to be out of the contract period, examine your contacts list. Among those that you frequently call, what networks do they use? Chances are you will realize that most of your friends are connected to a particular network. Maybe it’s time you switched?
You can try Smart’s Gold Lite Plan where you can get a line by just submitting a valid address-bearing ID. The benefits start when you realize that the call rate for this plan is just P2 Smart to Smart/Talk ‘n Text. The lock-in period is six months only and with a starter plan rate of P300, it is among the lowest out there. The Lite plans also come in denominations of 500, 800, 1200, 1800 and 2500. All plans do not have a free cell phone.
If you intend to get an additional plan for your family, why not look into the group plans plan offered by Smart and Sun? The Smart Trio Plan has a call rate P4 per minute for calls made among the three subscribers. With Sun Cellular, a value-minded consumer can look into their Group Plan 999. With this plan, three family members can enjoy unlimited texting and calling among themselves. Both the Smart and Sun group plans have free phones.
4. Say “no” to nonessential services and text-in promotions
Ringtones, while fancy and “cool,” costs money. Most phones today support MP3 and other music formats. These tones are readily available all over the Internet. This goes the same for wallpaper and mobile phone games if you know where to look.
Text-in promotions on the other had are very much the same as raffle promos. The odds of you winning are low. And unlike raffle promos, you are charged for sending an entry. So why bother?
5. Going abroad? Don’t bring your phone
Grab a local SIM card in your destination country. When you make calls using your Globe, Smart, or Sun phone from abroad, you will be shocked when you see your next statement. If you absolutely must bring it, use your phone to receive text messages. Your family and friends back home are only charged the regular text rate of P1 even if you are abroad.
Hopefully these tips will help you rationalize the use of your cell phone. Hard times call for tough measures. It doesn’t have to be painful though as long as you are conscious of how you use it.