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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

Adoptive parents in Fredericksburg now have a new partner on their journey to a healthy family. In 2016, Children’s Home Society was awarded a $125,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Social Services to extend their Richmond area post-adoptive services to the Fredericksburg area.

ChildrensHomeSociety

Now CHS is looking to find adoptive families in the area who need support before they hit a crisis point. “It doesn’t matter which agency they adopted from, or when that happened,” said Buckheit. “We want to offer a lifetime of support to adoptive families in the Fredericksburg area, especially those who haven’t been aware of our services in the past.”

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