It’s easy to get a person’s attention when you tell them you can “save money on your mobile phone bill” in the days when some people don’t even remember wired “landline” phones.

When it comes to saving money on your mobile phone, unless you are the type who craves the latest and greatest technology every six months, resist that urge to throw in the towel on your year-old phone.

Don’t commit to another two-year contract thinking you’re getting an $800 phone for about $150,  because you aren’t.  Two-year contracts that come attached to discounted phones are nothing more than a finance plan.  You’re paying ninety or a hundred dollars for a plan that you can get elsewhere for fifty or sixty dollars.

Take the difference and multiply it by 24 months and that’s how much you’ve financed over two years.  Don’t forget to factor in all of those hidden “connection fees.” Unlike a typical finance plan, however, the mobile carriers will gladly carry on charging you that same inflated rate far beyond the two-year contract and usually won’t let you out of the contract cheaply if you lose or break your phone or your needs change.

If your mobile phone contract has expired, cancel it.  There’s a cheaper plan out there if you already have a good phone and are happy with it.

Most mobile phones in the United States are sold “locked” to the carrier.  Not to mention that the major carriers all use different wireless technology. Unlocking a phone is useful for using a sim card from another carrier or another country if you plan to spend time abroad and wish to connect your phone to their local mobile network.

Before buying, check to see what your carrier’s unlocking policy is once your phone is paid off and if it will work on other carrier’s networks, or outside the United States.

Don’t confuse “unlocking” with “jailbreaking” an iPhone or “rooting” an Android.  Jailbreaking or rooting is for advanced users only and allows the installation of unauthorized and possibly dangerous software and will likely void your phone’s warranty.

Consider how much data and how many minutes you really need. Unlimited minutes and text is pretty standard these days and very few people will ever need more than the typical plan’s 2GB of high speed data in a month.  You can save money on your mobile phone plan if you are a light user by picking a cheaper option.

Some tips to avoid using too much of your data plan: Go crazy on the emailing, texting, and mobile web sites, but avoid spending your afternoons streaming videos. Also keep in mind that using “VOIP” apps like Skype, Viber, and Google Voice won’t count toward your voice or texting limits and can save money on international and roaming. If you connect to your home or office Wi-Fi network you won’t incur data charges but your voice calls and text will still count.

There are some great deals out there. Look for the prepaid or Pay As You Go phones that don’t lock you into a contract and allow you the flexibility of change as needed to suit your needs.

There are several advantages to not having a contract: You’re not locked in to a plan, if you break or lose your phone you aren’t forced to continue paying for it, the carrier can’t hit you up with an outrageous bill for unwittingly dialing China for two hours and you can always add minutes —if you get low— to avoid paying for services you don’t need.

There are less expensive but good phones that can be picked up for contract prices without the contract hassles.  What was top of the line six months or a year ago may be available for a bargain today.  Consider buying a used phone or a low-cost import from overseas that is readily available online.

Go to your carrier and ask these questions and tell them you came in to save money on your mobile phone bill, not get pushed into a hard sell on an expensive new contract.  Check the prepaid options sold at electronics retailers that your carrier may not willingly tell you about. Spend that saved money on something else.