1 - Gauge your needs. The best way to save money is to trim all the fat and get rid of the unnecessary expense for services that you don’t actually need or even use. Not even making a dent in that 20GB data plan? Perhaps now is the time to downscale. Paying extra for a call-waiting service on your landline that’s not getting any use? Give it the boot.
2 - Conversely, if you’re consistently exceeding your monthly 5GB data cap, you’re most likely paying an unnecessary premium for each additional gigabyte. If that’s the case, upgrading your data plan could well save you money in the long run.
3 - Once you’ve ascertained your requirements, shop around for the best price for similar plans. Depending on your location, you could find the services you require much cheaper than the going rate from the country’s best-known providers. A good starting point for broadband comparison is www.internetchoice.co.nz. To find out which providers are available in your area, head along to www.broadbandmap.govt.nz/map
4 - Of course, this all applies to mobile phone plans too. Head along to www.priceme.co.nz for a wide range of mobile contract comparisons and reviews. Most of Vodafone and Telecom’s current post-pay plans have been collated for your perusal, and some members of the site’s active community have even posted their thoughts and experiences with said plans where applicable. They can be searched by carrier, phone or – best of all – by price range!
5 - Often some of the latest and greatest mobile phone hardware can be obtained significantly cheaper through parallel importing. You can also typically use these phones along with existing SIM cards, although you’ll need to be careful that the phone you purchase supports the frequency of your carrier’s network. Head along to www.parallelimported.co.nz or www.digiparallelimports.co.nz. Sometimes you can even pick up phones that aren’t available through New Zealand’s major mobile carriers! But beware that parallel-imported devices may not be covered by a warranty.
6 - Use wireless hotspots when you can, as opposed to running up your phone’s 3G data rates. With some careful planning you can keep your mobile data expense to a minimum. Make sure you have your smartphone set up to make use of your personal and work wi-fi networks when you’re in range. Take advantage of the free wireless hotspot when you plan that business meeting at a café. And sometimes, if you’re planning on doing some data-intensive work away from the office, using paid wireless hotspots can often work out to be cheaper and more efficient than 3G mobile data rates. WA RNING: Do not use wi-fi for sensitive stuff like banking.
7 - Consider prepay mobile. How often do you use your phone, really? Do you ever make calls, or do you typically just receive them? How often do you text or access 3G Internet? If the answer to any of these questions is “not often”, the prepay route could be for you. The beauty of prepay is that you’re only charged for the individual instances in which you use the aforementioned services. Granted, they can often be comparatively inflated rates, but it’s a favourable alternative to paying consistent rates for services that you don’t really use. Remember: number portability means you can easily change providers and keep your mobile phone number
8 - Take care when travelling overseas. It’s now super easy to use your phone in plenty of foreign cities, but beware of international roaming charges because they can blow your budget, especially mobile data charges. It may be cheaper to buy a SIM card that works in the country where you are travelling, and use it for outbound calls, texts and data.
9 - Consider VoIP. The Internet-based alternative to the traditional phone line instantly does away with the monthly line-rental fee, and most VoIP plans typically offer considerably cheaper rates to boot. It relies on your Internet connection for its delivery and you’ll most likely need an adapter to use your existing phone, but it’s a one-off expense that will be more than recovered in long-term savings.