You know you overpay for your monthly cell service, right? You've picked a larger-than-needed voice bundle of minutes, a larger-than-needed text plan, and, if you own a smartphone, a larger-than-needed data bundle to make sure you don't go over the limits on each.
Since cell phone service is not pay-as-you go, you know you overpay. Forking over your hard earned to your cell company is one of life's teeth-clenching tolerated evils.
But do you know how much you're overpaying?
According to Validas, an outfit that helps companies manage their employee cell phone plans, 80 percent of us are vastly overpaying. As a nation we overpay by a total of $52.8 billion – with a "b." Individually, we overpay an average of $200 dollars a year.
Smartphone owners in particular skew the results. Here's how much iPhone users, Android users and all smartphone users overpay monthly and annually:
- iPhone monthly: $28.02; annual: $336.28
- Android monthly: $29.48; annual: $353.78
- all smartphone monthly: $20.76; annual: $249.07
Validas thinks this overpaying situation is stupid; they're mad as hell and they don't want you to take overpaying any more.
Save Love Give
To help us not over-overpay Validas folks have created a service called Vera, which can be accessed at its curiously-named savelovegive.com Web site.
Vera analyzes your cell phone bill and suggests plans different from the one you have to minimize your overpaying.
And Vera is free. But to sign up, you'll need your cell phone number and the password for your online cell phone account – all the major carriers let you check out your bill and account online. If you haven't so registered to access your cell phone account, do so.
Here are the links to the online account access registration pages for the Big Four carriers:
Once you've registered, you're ready to sign up with Vera, which you can access online via your desktop or your smartphone's Web browser.
Vera is NOT an app. It's a Web-based service, but its Web site looks and acts like an app when accessed on a smartphone.
How much can I save this month?
Right after you confirm your email address and Vera verifies your cell account information, Vera starts analyzing your cell phone account, and presents you with four alternative money-saving plans for you to consider.
Then Vera generates an email to your carrier asking them to assist you on changing your plan. The whole plan-changing process can be handled via email.
But this is not a one-time new plan suggestion. Carriers are always changing their plans and your usage will vary from month-to-month.
When Vera detects your latest bill, the system automatically analyzes it and sends you an alert if more savings are possible. Theoretically, you could change your plan every month to squeeze out every last dollar of cell overpay savings.
I don't know about you, but not giving my cell carrier any more of my moolah than necessary warms the cockles of my wallet (I rarely carry cash in the cockles of my heart, or in any of my bodily cockles, now that I think about it).
And, if you're a feature phone user, you may find you can upgrade to a smartphone for the same monthly amount you're paying now.
What do you do with these overpaying savings? Sure, you can pocket them – treat it like your own private stimulus package (the financial kind).
But the "Give" part of Vera lets you put this money to soul-satisfying charitable use.
Vera's first non-profit partner is the 7 Bar Foundation, a micro financing site design to empower poor women to become entrepreneurs and small business owners to help break the cycle of poverty. Vera/Validas hopes to add additional Give participants early next year.
"Love" is designed to spread the word about Vera. If you get someone else to sign up, Validas will throw $3 into 7 Bar Foundation's relief fund for business victims of Hurricane Sandy along the Jersey Shore. 7 Bar will provide small, low- or no-interest loans to business owners who want to re-open.
Vera is in a "soft launch" phase – they're still working out the bugs and creating charitable partnerships; the major launch is due January 24. Validas also hopes to add some premium services down the road, such as daily voice and data alerts.
But nothing stops you from taking advantage of Vera's ability to cut down on your massive cell service overpaying right now.