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Do you dread opening your monthly cell phone bill?  If so, you’re not alone.  At one point, the average monthly bill was $148 at Verizon, $144 at Sprint and $141 at AT&T.  While new plans have been introduced, chances are you’re still paying too much for service.  Luckily, there are some tricks you can use to lower your monthly bill.

Be realistic about your needs

Don’t be fooled by carriers offering unlimited plans.  Chances are you won’t use nearly enough data to rationalize having such a huge plan.  The reality is the average smartphone user only goes through 2.9 GB of data per month.  Anything more and you’re probably throwing money down the drain.  Take a few minutes to analyze your current plan and see if a lower tier is right for you.

Get a family plan

Getting a family plan sounds counterproductive since your bill will increase but hear us out. The more lines you add, the bigger the savings per line.  All you’ll need to do is split the monthly costs evenly with your crew.  For instance, Verizon’s unlimited plan is $80/month for one line.  However, if you bump it up to two lines, each party will only pay $70 per month.  Reducing your bill by $10 a month can easily save you $120 a year.  Just be sure to choose someone responsible because you don’t want to be stuck paying their portion of the bill.

Ditch the extra bells and whistles

Opting to get insurance for your phone seems like a smart move considering newer models cost an arm a leg these days.  However, you may want to think twice.  The truth is only 33 percent of people actually lose or break their phones.  It may be worth it to save the $7-$13 a month you’re dishing out for protection and invest in a sturdy phone case instead.  Chances are there are other extras you’re paying for that you don’t need.  Go through your cell phone bill to see what else is being tacked on and have those features cancelled as well.

Take advantage of employer discounts

Working for the right employer can also be your ticket to savings.  Some carriers offer up to 25% off plans and accessories if you work for certain companies, schools and organizations.  Determining your eligibility is easy.  Just provide your work or school email address and they’ll tell if you qualify for the perk.  Alternatively, you can bring your student or employee ID to the nearest store location.

Consider switching carriers

If you’ve been with your carrier for a while, it’s time to see what else is out there.  Many smaller companies offer great service at a more affordable price.  Using a site like WhistleOut can help you find and compare multiple plans in a single shot.  Simply provide basic information about what you’re looking for and they’ll list all the plans that fit the bill.