smart spending

4 ways to cut your phone bill

People everywhere are scrambling to trim the soaring costs of food and fuel to keep their budgets from bursting.

However, you may find a few extra nickels and dimes in an unexpected place -- by cutting back on your phone bill.

"Telephone charges, and especially long-distance charges, are a discretionary expenditure. They can be reduced to make room to save for other financial goals like retirement," says William Jordan, president of The Sentinel Group, a financial planning and wealth management firm in Laguna Hills , Calif.

Here are four ways to reduce your phone bill and pocket the difference.

Put costs on hold
Trimming your phone bill can help you save precious nickels and dimes in a slowing economy.
 

Use toll-free services and calling cards for long-distance calls

A huge portion of the phone bill is usually made up of long-distance charges. Many traditional phone companies charge between 5 cents and 10 cents per minute, plus a monthly fee of around $5 or $10.

Calling cards and their corresponding toll-free number plans offer some of the best long-distance rates around, with charges of about 3 cents to 4 cents per minute.

Calling card companies offer users cards with a special account numbers and personal identification numbers to dial before making long distance calls.

"My husband and I did away with traditional long-distance years ago because we had calling cards," says Marcia Brixey, author of "The Money Therapist: A Woman's Guide to Creating a Healthy Financial Life."

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"Every six months, we add on about $30 worth of minutes. When we recharge our card, it's always at the same rate."

If you commit to making all of your long-distance calls with calling cards, you may be able to switch to a more basic telephone package from your home phone provider, which could save you up to half of your monthly costs.

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