Actual Cell Phone Usage vs. What You Pay For


Do you study your cell phone bill? If not, why not? Do you assume everything is always accurate? Do you think that your plan is “just fine”?

I recently analyzed my cell phone plan…and actual usage over a one year period. This is easily accomplished by checking your bill and entering some key data into Excel. I am with Verizon, and I have a 2100 minute shared family plan that has 3 phones. Here is the graphical output from the analysis:

Cell phone usage

Looks confusing?  It is not.

First, I mapped out the total minutes used per month.  Then I broke the usage down by person.  Next, I determined which of those minutes fell into the “Free Night and Weekend” minutes pool.  I tool the delta from the total minutes and the night/weekend minutes and determined the Prime Minutes.  The Prime minutes are the minutes that are actually deducted from your shared minutes pool on your plan.  As a final touch, I plotted a linear trendline, to show which direction the typical usage is headed…in this case, it is gradually increasing, meaning we are gradually increasing our reliance on cellular devices.

You may be wondering what this has accomplished.  One thing the data shows is that we do not need a 2100 minute plan.  The most shared minutes we have ever used in a one-year period is 754.  The most “total” minutes we have ever used over this time is 1551.  The data also shows that the teen is using the least number of voice minutes, with my wife clearly on top with voice usage. 

Some conclusions can be drawn from this data.  I can train my wife to use the regular phone versus her cell phone during the day…or, we can just ditch the regular phone and use cells.  But since my home phone service was included as part of a package deal, it makes more sense to train her to use the home phone.  Second, I can safely reduce my shared family plan to the 1400 minute package.  Cleverly, the next step down for Verizon is the 700 minute plan, and we might be able to drop to that one, though our prime minute usage has peaked over 750 minutes at times.  The 1400 minute plan would be an instant savings of $20 a month, or $240 a year.  Dropping to the 700 minute plan saves us another $20 a month.  Good, clean savings.  And they won’t tell you this stuff in the Verizon store.

 I urge you, reader, to spend 45 minutes to concoct your own spreadsheet of cell phone usage.  Determine what you really use, and put a cap on all the little leaks here and there that reduce your monthly bottom line.  Sitting by and assuming you are OK is not the way to save for a rainy day…do something simple like this, determine your average need, and get on the phone to adjust accordingly.


One response »

  1. We have to check our bill since we live so close to Canada you can be on our side but near the niagara river and get a roaming charge from Rogers Cell. Case in point I just noticed a $3.19 overcharge…not all the money in the world but you have to call and then wait and then put up with poor customer service (mentioned in another blog). Well now that I have a biz account with AT&T I received a short wait time and a totally competent CSR who worked quickly and politely to rectify. All in all a stellar correction. 3 Mins. later I was done. I also have 3 lines on my bill and suggest all others check theirs monthly. With AT&T however rollover minutes are awesome and there is no monthly stress or worry…simply order the lowest plan available to match your needs…in a month or 2 you have a bank of extra mins. The author is however brilliant and has shown a great Excel example…probably beyond me but nonetheless awesome.

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