Your Family Budget’s Worst Enemy

Girl Talk

(Photo credit: “PictureYouth”)


What is it your family spends the most money on every month? If you’re like most folks, it’s your mortgage or rent. After all, you need a place to live. After that, it might be a car payment. Groceries figure in there somewhere as well, especially if you have a larger family.

Yet, believe it or not, there is a budget culprit that’s been slowly working its way up the ranks. For many families it’s passed the grocery bill and even the car payment, to take the #2 family budget slot.

We’re talking about the cell phone bill.

According to a family budget reader survey at, families are paying an average of $67 per month per person for their cell phone bills. That works out to just under $350 per month for a family of five.

It starts low and grows

The funny thing about cell phone bills is that, when you start paying one, it’s rarely quite so big. You probably started with one or two phones in your family. As the kids got older, the cell phone companies offer you additional lines for the “low” price of $10 or $20 per month.

Then, you get a smartphone, and start paying for a data plan. You add a tablet, and you want 3G or 4G access for that device, too, so you are looking at another monthly charge. When you add in all of the federal taxes, fees, and other service charges surrounding your bill, you can see just how quickly it can blossom.

High cell phone bills and what to do about them

If you need to cut your cell phone budget, you have some options. Consider dropping the data plan on your tablet, and just use it when you have WiFi access. Look at your history of minutes usage – most companies now have free evenings, weekends, and mobile-to-mobile calls, so chances are you don’t need that 1,200 minute per month plan. Obviously, dropping a line or two might help, but realize that you’ll probably get some serious backlash from those teenagers and tweens.

So, what about you? Do you feel like your cell phone bill is out of control?

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