News Center

Infographic: Killer Cellphone Bill

‎03-30-2014 04:00 AM

It’s March, and as Americans fill out their tax forms, they’re asking the eternal question: “Where did all of my money go?” This article is the fourth of our four-day “Pay Yourself Forward” series, offering tips and insight on how saving money on small, everyday expenses can turn into a pile of savings for your long-term goals.


Your monthly cellphone bill is high enough without any extra charges added on. But with an in-app purchase here and an added data charge there, the next thing you know you’re forking over potentially hundreds of extra dollars each year. These three common smartphone options are some of the biggest culprits for bloated bills. Here’s how to avoid them.


In-app purchases

Yes, it’s hard to resist buying that Lollipop Hammer ($1.99) or Bomb Cooler ($1.99) for Candy Crush® or gold packs ($4.99 and up) for Deer Hunter 2014®, but don’t give in! The whole point of these free, addictive games is to separate you from your money – one small charge at a time. There’s even a name for these types of apps: freemiums. The best way to stop the temptation is to disable in-app purchases on your mobile device.


A phone as a mobile hot spot

It’s a convenient idea: Use your phone as a hotspot to transmit a Wi-Fi signal to your laptop or tablet. But the extra monthly cost for a “share plan” can run anywhere from $20 to $50 a month – not including those sneaky overage charges when you go past your data limit. In most cases, the extra convenience isn’t worth the extra $240 to $600 you pay a year.


Data roaming overseas

It’s a mobile miracle: You get off a plane overseas, and your smartphone automatically connects to the local high-speed cellular network. You quickly check your email, tweet to announce you’ve landed, and find the latest currency exchange rates on the Web. Little did you know that your mobile provider is charging you a boatload of money for international data roaming. There are two solutions: 1) Before you leave, call your provider and set up an international plan, or 2) turn off the “data roaming” option on your phone’s settings (which will bar you from using data altogether, except with Wi-Fi).


Mobile Gaming


Check out the rest of the retirement savings infographics




Financial advice provided by USAA Financial Planning Services Insurance Agency, Inc. (known as USAA Financial Insurance Agency in California, License # 0E36312), and USAA Financial Advisors, Inc., a registered broker dealer.



Community Managers

Briana Hartzell

Briana Hartzell

Briana knows all about moving. This Navy wife has helped her husband relocate to four different naval air stations in the last three years. A former USAA employee, Briana is co-founder of The Triple Dish, a blog focused on food, fitness and military life.

View Briana's Profile
Wendy Poling

Wendy Poling

Wendy is a social media strategist and founder of, featuring a popular military spouse blog and the hit podcast Navy Wife Radio and now Military Life Radio. She is the wife of a submariner who has also served in Afghanistan.

View Wendy's Profile
Charles Pratt

Charles "Chazz" Pratt

Charles "Chazz" Pratt III is a former U.S. Army Captain who made the Military-to-Civilian career transition in 1994. In his book, The Fort Living Room Transition Course, he shares valuable tips & tricks to help you succeed. Since his transition from the military, he's worked for several Fortune 500 companies, including Pfizer, Genentech, and St. Jude Medical, among others.

View Chazz's Profile
Scott Halliwell

Scott Halliwell

Scott Halliwell is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner.

View Scott Halliwell's Profile
Joseph Montanaro

Joseph "J.J." Montanaro

Joseph "J.J." Montanaro is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner.

View Joseph "J.J." Montanaro's Profile