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Family Money

Can you believe I still have my very first cell phone? It was an Audiovox MVX-460 and I purposely kept it to one day show my children. Even with switching service providers often, I have maintained the same mobile number. My service plans have run the gamut from Verizon to Sprint, back to Verizon, to Straight Talk Wireless, back to Verizon and now Republic Wireless.

Cellular phones have come a long way since 1998 when a cell phone was just a mobile device of convenience. My first phone certainly wasn't "smart" and that was okay because texting was unheard of and there certainly were no data plans.

Today's consumer has a myriad of choices. When shopping for a new cell phone, ask yourself, do you really "need" the latest and greatest iPhone 6 or LG G4 and its hefty price tag plus the cost of the monthly bill? More than likely you don't "need" all the bells and whistles that come with the contractual-service plan. Check your service area. You may not even have 4G coverage!

Cutting out services you don't use can help you save money. Take a good look at what you use your phone for, when and where you use your phone, and what apps eat your cellular data. Don't pay for features that you can't use. Log onto your account or check your carrier's app for a breakdown of what you are actually using. To be sure not to exceed your data usage, set data alerts and limits. The average smartphone user only needs about 1GB per month. If you use less than 1GB of data a month, consider a wireless plan that gives you a refund for unused data use.

Use Wi-Fi whenever you can. Do you spend the majority of your waking hours at home or at the office? More than likely you have Wi-Fi or can get on a mobile hotspot. You should consider turning off mobile data whenever you don't need it. Also, only use data-hogging apps when on Wi-Fi.

Happily, I am that consumer that only uses 1GB of data per month, use my phone mostly at home or on Wi-Fi networks, and have come to realize I don't need the latest and greatest cell phone. For my needs, my $129 phone and $25 per month plan works for me and if I am savvy enough to only use .5GB then Republic Wireless will give me a refund.

Using the tips above my husband and I have been able to cut our monthly cell phone bill by half.

Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons financial responsibility with the less is more mindset.

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Pouches' Community Corner

St Baldrick’s Foundation began in 2000 over a simple idea – shave a colleague’s beautiful hair while also raising money for kids with cancer. And now this Foundation has funded over $200 million worth of research to cure pediatric
cancer. In 2015, the FDA approved a treatment that offers a higher chance of a cure for high-risk neuroblastoma patients because of that research.

Pouches St Baldricks