Buying a cell phone for your teen
Just keep in mind that endless gabbing on a cell
phone is far from cheap. If you exceed the monthly allotment of minutes
included in your calling plan, a higher per-minute fee kicks in.
Use up your airtime for the month and you'll quickly
be paying 45 to 50 cents per minute on your calls. A monthly cell
phone bill could get awfully big, awfully quick.
It's not a good idea to hand a teen a cell phone with
a postpaid calling plan without laying down some strict ground rules.
Is the teen responsible for the entire bill each and
every month? Half of the bill? A parent could also agree to pay
a fixed amount of a teen's cell phone expenses each month. Any other
charges would be paid by the teen.
Make it clear to your teen just how much airtime
comes with the calling plan each month. Be sure to point out how
much any extra airtime will cost them.
"Show them the bill. Make sure they understand
what the overages would be," Simon says. "Show them how
to check how many minutes they've used on the phone."
Again, it's crucial that the calling plan you choose
for your teen matches their calling needs. Have a long talk with
your teen on how they plan to use the phone and then do some serious
This article from Bankrate.com will show you how
to find a calling plan that matches your teen's calling patterns.
Today's teens do a lot more than talk with their cell
phones. So be sure to ask your teen about text messaging.
Paying 5 to 10 cents per message really adds up, especially
if your teen and all their friends text message each other like
"I run into people who say 'My child. Five hundred
dollars for text messaging. What could they possibly say?'"
Blecher says. "It's insane."
If your teen is keen on text messaging, you may want
to sign up for a calling plan with unlimited text messaging, which
costs about $5 or $10 a month.
Teens also like to change ring tones and cell phone
covers. Make it clear that they can be as creative as they want
with the phone as long as they pay for it. And you may want to remind
them that it will cost them a dollar or two each time they change
Another option for families is adding a teen to a
parent's calling plan. Many providers offer calling plans that allow
families to share airtime on as many as five phones on a single
account. You'll pay $10 to $20 a month for each phone you add to
the account. And you could pay a one-time activation fee as high
as $36 for each phone you add. Be sure to check.
The biggest thing to think about with family calling
plans is sharing your airtime every month.
"Here's the scary part with family plans.
You all share minutes so your child could use all your minutes if
they're a gabber," Blecher says.
One way you can conserve pooled airtime is by signing
up for a calling plan that gives you unlimited calling to other
family members in the plan.
"It's basically free minutes," Blecher says.
"It doesn't get deducted from your plan."
Before you sign on for a family calling plan, you'll
want to weigh the costs of getting your teen their own calling plan
with your cell phone carrier. It may be cheaper for each of you
to have your own calling plan.
"Parent and child together have to be honest
about how they'll use the phone," Blecher says. "And then
they need to find the best calling plans for their needs."