The end-of-year holidays are a time of giving, rest and enjoyment, which can have a significant impact on family expenses. While you plan that well-deserved break overseas or stuff the kids’ Christmas stockings with gadgets, take a moment to consider the following tips from us to help you start 2012 on the right foot.
Smartphones and other new gadgets may be functional and attractive, but can sometimes come with hidden costs. Ask lots of questions about plans and charges – what features are included in the monthly bills, what is not included and how much you have to pay for these extras. Shop around, and make sure you’re making an informed decision before buying a new phone, especially for your children.
If you plan on calling friends or family overseas, ask your provider about their international call rates from your mobile or landline. Remember that some mobile phone caps may not include international calls. Your provider will generally have that information on their website.
Overseas roaming costs can be hefty. To avoid surprises when returning home, you can ask your provider to deactivate roaming from your service, buy a SIM card in the country you are visiting or use the internet on your mobile phone sparingly. Monitor your usage as much as you can, and if you don’t know how to, contact your provider.
A picture message can be a cute greeting on Christmas or New Years Eve, but before sending one to all your contacts, remember that they are more expensive than SMS and may not be included in your cap. Posting the photo in a place where it can be accessed by family and friends may be a cheaper option. You may be able to send the link via SMS.
If you know that Christmas expenses will affect your ability to pay your phone bill, ring your provider in advance to ask for an extension or payment plan. A call may save you going through a disconnection, suspension or a credit listing.