smart phones en-US 5 Painless Ways to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-painless-ways-to-lower-your-cell-phone-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Woman finding painless ways to lower her cellphone bill" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The smartphone has become a necessity for many of us as we use them for work, to communicate with our kids, and to keep our lives organized. Unfortunately, with this amazing technology often comes an expensive monthly bill. But with just a little bit of effort, you can easily lower your cell phone bill to a more budgetable amount. Here are some important steps to get you moving in the right direction.</p> <h2>1. Find Cheaper Companies That Access the Same Towers</h2> <p>Are you aware that discount cell carriers like Republic Wireless and Straight Talk Wireless access the same cell towers as Verizon, AT&amp;T, and Sprint? As a matter of fact, the big carriers actually own the cell towers and sell access to the smaller players at a highly discounted rate and pass the savings along to you. For example, Republic Wireless uses T-Mobile towers, and Straight Talk taps into Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile.</p> <p>Use this information to your advantage when deciding if one of the discount cell carriers is for you. Before you decide, be sure to analyze the cell coverage in your region before switching. For example, if your area has poor coverage with T-Mobile, but good with Verizon and Sprint, then Straight Talk might be a better option than Republic. You can save a lot of money every month if you do switch. For example, Straight Talk offers unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of data at 4G speed for only $45 per month. The same plan with Verizon will cost you over $70.</p> <h2>2. Learn to Negotiate a Deal</h2> <p>If you're happy with the carrier you currently have, but don't like how much you pay every month, consider calling them up to <a href="">negotiate a better rate</a>. This is especially true if you're month-to-month with your carrier and aren't under a contract. Start by doing a few minutes of homework and check out what the competition is offering. Take note of plans similar to yours that are cheaper. Those less expensive plans are going to be your negotiating ammunition.</p> <p>When you call customer service, tell the first person you speak with that you want to cancel your service as it's too expensive. Without fail, they'll transfer you to the customer loyalty or retention department. These are the folks who have the authority to lower your bill. Keep in mind that cell companies spend a lot of money on new customer acquisition and are often willing to throw you a bone to keep you on as a loyal customer. Immediately tell them about your research and the cell carrier you're considering switching too.</p> <p>At this point, the retention specialist will either offer you a discount to stay on as a customer, or tell you they can't meet the competitor's lower rate. In my experience, it's typically the former. At the very least, most company reps can help you dissect your bill in order to cut out any add-on services you might pay for, but rarely use.</p> <h2>3. Always Look for Employer Discounts</h2> <p>Many employers work with cell phone companies to provide their employee with a discounted rate. Some of the more popular jobs that often qualify include teachers, state and local government jobs, military, and many corporate jobs. Each provider offers a little different discount so your best bet is to check the big four linked below to see if you're eligible for a discount. Most discounts are in the 10%&ndash;25% range. For example, my wife is a public school teacher and she gets a 15% monthly discount from Verizon. All she had to do to get her discount was walk into a Verizon Store and show them proof of her employment.</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Sprint</a></li> <li><a href="">Verizon</a></li> <li><a href="!/wireless/KM1001048">AT&amp;T</a></li> <li><a href="">T-Mobile</a></li> </ul> <h2>4. Analyze Your Monthly Usage</h2> <p>It's easy to fall into the trap of being happy with your cell phone service and ignore the small details. Like if you actually need everything on your plan that you pay for month-after-month. Pull out your bill and examine it with a fine tooth comb. Are you being charged for things like enhanced voicemail, a 411 service, phone insurance, or roadside assistance? If you don't need it, or rarely use it, cut it out of your plan and save some easy money on your monthly bill.</p> <p>Also, be sure to look for <a href="">family share plans</a> that many cell phone providers offer these days. While not heavily advertised, they provide an excellent way to save if you need multiple lines. The more lines you add, the less you pay for each additional line.</p> <h2>5. Verizon Users: Deal Solely With Authorized Sellers</h2> <p>I recently had a former authorized Verizon seller inform me that unlike &quot;Verizon Store&quot; employees, they were not paid a commission when they increase a customer's data plan. She worked at a Verizon kiosk at Costco and she said it's the best place to go to get help understanding your bill and possibly get it lowered. They'll go through it with you, look for spots to save, and let you know about any special discounts they might have available. Actual Verizon Store employees? Not so much.</p> <p>While this is not necessarily a tip that will get your bill lowered, it's good information for Verizon loyalists. Always visit the authorized seller locations as they have employees who don't get paid for raising your bill.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Kyle James</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">6 Ways Social Media Can Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The 10 Best Couponing Apps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Little Words That Will Get You the Best Price, Every Time</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">7 Secrets to Scoring the Best Price When Buying on eBay</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Is Unlimited Data Still a Thing?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Technology authorized sellers bills cell phones cell providers data deals discounts negotiating smart phones Fri, 14 Oct 2016 09:31:19 +0000 Kyle James 1812052 at 5 Free Handy Coupon Apps — Don’t Leave Home Without One <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-free-handy-coupon-apps-don-t-leave-home-without-one" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Shop with a smart phone" title="Shop with a smart phone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="178" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Clipping coupons can be time-consuming and quite the chore. I&rsquo;ve seen my wife spend a good hour at the kitchen table, checking out the different offers and clipping and organizing the ones we need. (We won&rsquo;t even go into <a href="">the extreme couponers</a> who spend hours and hours every day clipping and shopping with them.)</p> <p>Then, of course, you have to remember to bring them with you when you shop. And you also need to keep on top of them as they expire, sometimes quite quickly.</p> <p>In this day and age, there has to be a better way. Well, of course there is. With smartphones being so accessible and more affordable than ever (often free with a two-year contract) you have access to a wide range of money-saving apps. Since you rarely leave home without your phone, you&rsquo;ll always have access to coupons when you need them. Plus, digital coupons are always updated, so you don&rsquo;t have to worry about carrying a bunch of expired ones.</p> <p>But with so many free apps to choose from, which are worth downloading? What are the pros and cons of the best ones? Here are five handy coupon apps available on iPhone and Android phones right now, or in the case of the first one, very very soon. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="">Wise Bread's Coupon Search</a>)</p> <h2>1. Ibotta</h2> <p>This app is launching very soon, and I was given the chance to see it in action, ask the developers a ton of questions, and also arrange a special deal for Wise Bread readers (more on that in a moment).</p> <p>Basically, <a href="">Ibotta</a> learns your brand and product preferences, becoming more and more in-touch with your shopping habits as you use it.</p> <p>You earn cash by learning more about your favorite products and brands, and you choose what to click and how to earn. If you don&rsquo;t want to watch a video, no worries, you can click on an interesting fact and still earn up to $1 or more per product offer. Unlike other coupon sites, you earn actual dollars, not points that equate to pennies on the dollar.&nbsp;</p> <p>When you&rsquo;re in store, you can then redeem your offers for cash, which can be done almost instantly using the handy receipt scanner feature. And your earnings can be posted direct to your PayPal account or donated to a school. You can also use these coupons in conjunction with traditional manufacturer coupons.</p> <p>Ibotta is easy to use, and there&rsquo;s already a long waitlist for the app. But Wise Bread readers have been given the chance to skip the line and be one of the first to use the Ibotta app. Just click <a href="">this exclusive Wise Bread link</a> and enter your email address. Of all the coupon apps I&rsquo;ve seen, and used, this one has the greatest potential for big savings, and the learning feature makes it a time-saver and the most personal of all the apps available.</p> <h2>2. The Coupons App</h2> <p><a href="">The Coupons App</a> gets amazing reviews, with a 4.57 (out of 5) average from over 82,000 ratings. And that speaks volumes about its ease of use and coupon availability.</p> <p>With The Coupons App, the deals come to you constantly throughout the day. It also has some nice features including the barcode scanner (much like <a href="">ShopSavvy</a>) to do instant, on-the-spot price comparisons. You can also share coupons with family and friends over email and text message, as well as social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. And you are equipped with a voice search feature, for those times when you&rsquo;re roaming around a store and just want a quick coupon for toothpaste or kitchen towels.</p> <p>I did experience some crashes when using certain features (the barcode and voices search features being the biggest culprits), as well as ads within the app causing lock ups. But a quick look at their recent changes list shows some major bug fixes have been applied.</p> <p>One great feature is that most of the coupons have barcodes that the cashier can just scan. Many coupons you get via mobile give you a code that the cashier must type in, and they really don&rsquo;t like doing that. Or some places won&rsquo;t accept barcodeless coupons. And some of the coupons have to be printed out, which goes against the idea of a mobile app.</p> <p>Of course, like anything that&rsquo;s free, you do have the usual ads to contend with, but they&rsquo;re not too invasive. Overall, it's a really solid app and well worth a download.</p> <h2>3. Coupon Sherpa</h2> <p>Nowhere near as popular as The Coupons App, but still worth a look, <a href=";hl=en">Coupon Sherpa</a> has some big positives and a few drawbacks.</p> <p>On the plus side, Coupon Sherpa is a great resource for savings on toys and clothing items. You&rsquo;ll get exclusive coupons that are only available via the Coupon Sherpa app, as well a great selection of current Internet coupons and special offers. And scrolling through the alphabetical stores list is very handy, especially when you&rsquo;re in a store and want a coupon right there and then.</p> <p>The app compiles the latest and greatest offers and coupons for you, so you don't have to go out there hunting for coupons when you&rsquo;re looking for a bargain. And the GPS feature means you can actually get directions to the stores close to you that have the deals. That&rsquo;s a nice touch, although it could use a filter to exclude stores that are nowhere near your current location.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s the good. The bad,;s not terrible, but it does impact the overall experience. First, it&rsquo;s very limited with its selection of <a href="">grocery coupons</a>. If you&rsquo;re expecting Coupon Sherpa to serve up the same coupons you get in the Sunday circulars, you&rsquo;ll be disappointed. The deals are more like &ldquo;get $10 off when you spend $50&rdquo; and so on. But you will find bargains at places like Barnes &amp; Noble, Toys &lsquo;R&rsquo; Us, JC Penney, Joanns, Bath &amp; Body Works, PetCo and The Children&rsquo;s Place. And the stores it serves up &ldquo;near&rdquo; you aren&rsquo;t always so near.</p> <p>Overall, I like Coupon Sherpa. It&rsquo;s still got a place on my phone, and I use it often. But it certainly has room for improvement.</p> <h2>4. Best Coupons and Deals</h2> <p>One of the best-reviewed coupon apps currently on the market, <a href=";hl=en">Best Coupons and Deals</a> is updated daily by a mix of coupon clippers and deal hounds. And that&rsquo;s evident when you open it up and see how many deals it really has.</p> <p>Like most coupon apps, the features on Best Coupons and Deals are what you&rsquo;d expect. You get handpicked and featured deals, hot deal alerts, and a searchable, alphabetized store database. You can also share coupons with friends and family, which is maybe why it was formerly called Coupon Cloud.</p> <p>There are many top brands within the app, including: Kohl's, Victoria's Secret, Whole Foods, Aeropostale, Redbox, Abercrombie &amp; Fitch, T.G.I. Friday's, Old Navy, Bath &amp; Body Works, Chili's, Hollister, Ulta, Olive Garden, JCPenney, Denny's, Express, CiCi's Pizza, CVS, Yankee Candle, Papa John's, The Children's Place, Boston Market, Babies R Us, Long John Silver's, Baskin Robbins, Forever 21, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Toys R Us, Walgreens, and Macy&rsquo;s.</p> <p>And the coupons are delivered in two formats &mdash; <a href="">online codes</a> or mobile digital coupons that you redeem via your smartphone. You can also print out the coupons, which is handy for those stores that haven&rsquo;t caught up with technology yet.</p> <p>On the down side, a lot of the stores listed in the index were not near me. There were issues with the phone freezing, the app closing, or the whole phone shutting down. Those were rare, but annoying. And the grocery coupons were very scarce.&nbsp;</p> <p>Overall, I saved money with it and liked the interface.</p> <h2>5. Yowza!!</h2> <p>First, I love the name, it&rsquo;s way more interesting and memorable than most coupon apps. Other apps, take note. And this one has star power, with <a href="">TV star Greg Grunberg (&quot;Heroes&quot;) championing this one.</a></p> <p><a href="">Yowza!!</a> is a strong app because it serves up location-based savings for shoppers. Choose how far out from your location you want coupons, and it will find them. Plus, it serves up special offers and deals specifically for Yowza!! users, deals that have been specially negotiated on your behalf.</p> <p>Another nice little feature is the results tracker. It basically keeps track of all the coupons you use, giving you a running total of how much the app has saved you since downloading it.</p> <p>Like other coupon apps, you get instant notifications when a favorite store puts a new coupon out there. That was particularly handy for me, as I got a notification about five minutes before I was ready to check out. It saved me $5 on the spot.</p> <p>Like other apps of this nature, the selection of stores is limited, but growing. And unfortunately, when you click on some of the stores, you get served with an advertisement. But overall, this is another solid app worthy of a download. Try it out.</p> <p><em>Now, those are the five (well, four until Ibotta is launched) that I recommend. Do you have a coupon app that&rsquo;s saved you a ton of money and is not on this list? Let us know.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Have Coupon, Will Travel: Apps to Save on the Go</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">8 Items You Should Never Buy Online</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Top 7 Reasons Why I Use My Credit Card for Everything</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The 5 Best Smart Alarm Clocks</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping comparison shop coupon apps coupon management smart phones Mon, 01 Oct 2012 10:36:56 +0000 Paul Michael 954749 at 8 Effective Strategies For Mobile Marketing <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/8-effective-strategies-for-mobile-marketing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Mobile has become the buzz word for the marketing industry, inticing businesses from all over to get in on the game. But with so many options and strategies to pursue, which one is the most effective for your business?</p> <p>Don't think that mobile marketing is only for large businesses in major metropolitan areas, either. Businesses of all shapes and sizes can effectively use mobile marketing to draw and grow their business. Kyle Agha, owner of a local restaurant situated just a few miles from an open pasture is using mobile marketing to recession-proof and strengthen his business. He has run the <a href="" target="_blank">New Town Bistro &amp; Bar</a> in Winston-Salem, NC, for 17 years, weathering changes in the area&rsquo;s economy while keeping pace with rapid-fire technology innovations. He told me about innovative ways that he connects with customers.</p> <p>To gain even more insights about mobile marketing, I also spoke with:</p> <ul> <li>Navin Ganeshan, who leads new product development and strategic investments for <a href="" target="_blank">Network Solutions</a>;</li> <li>Tim Gorin, vice president of business development for <a href="" target="_blank">MyEyeDr</a> with 35+ locations in the Washington, DC area and Small Business Advisory Council member for <a href="" target="_blank">Yelp</a>, a business review site;</li> <li>Lawren Desai, owner of <a href="" target="_blank">a/perture cinema</a>, a movie theatre showing independent, documentary, and art films in downtown Winston-Salem, NC.</li> </ul> <p>They talked about techniques for tapping the power of mobile marketing.</p> <h3>Slow Time Marketing Tool</h3> <p>If the dinner crowd is not yet pouring in at 5 p.m., Kyle may send a text message mentioning a specific menu item appropriate for the evening. For example, he might promote a &ldquo;cool summer salad&rdquo; on a sweltering July day. Plus, he&rsquo;ll offer an incentive for customers to show the text to their servers as a way to track ROI.</p> <h3>Special Promotions with Limited Lead Times</h3> <p>Mobile marketing has also been useful in solving the problem of selling fresh seafood quickly for the restaurant, since delivery dates are rarely nailed down in time for traditional promotions. But the immediacy of texting plays in the business&rsquo;s favor. Kyle can alert customers to the availability of soft shell crab as soon as he is sure of its arrival and quickly receives requests for dinner reservations.</p> <h3>Piggyback on Another&rsquo;s App</h3> <p>New Town Bistro does not have its own app but has a presence on Open Table&rsquo;s mobile app, which comes pre-loaded on a host of smart phones. As a result, customers can find his restaurant, view a current menu, and call for a reservation easily. Kyle has been most surprised at how this particular listing has attracted out-of-town guests.</p> <h3>Search and Discovery, Not Mobile Advertising or Apps</h3> <p>Navin at Network Solutions tells me that many small business owners tend to think of mobile advertising campaigns or apps to promote their business when they first consider mobile marketing. But he recommends avoiding those low-ROI techniques in favor of establishing and managing a presence on free local directories and review sites. Focus on major players such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Urban Spoon and those ranked high in search results pertaining to your business.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s what to do so that prospects can discover your business:</p> <ul> <li>Claim and verify the listing as the owner;</li> <li>Describe your business, its products, and services;</li> <li>Add compelling elements such as photo reviews.</li> </ul> <p>Thirty percent of all searches are local searches and the intent to buy is high: 82% of users doing a local search engage in some sort of interaction with merchants on the same day; and 62% make a purchase the same day. By establishing your web presence via local listings, you are capturing business from customers who are ready to buy but need help in selecting a merchant. Help them find you.</p> <h3>Review Sites: Perfection Not Required</h3> <p>Through his marketing role with MyEyeDr and non-paid advisory gig with Yelp, Tim Gorin has learned that discriminating consumers do not expect businesses to have spotless records on review sites. However, they want to see engagement by owners or key employees when customers post unfavorable reviews, comment on poor service, etc. Prospects are interested in learning how businesses deal with complaints, not whether they have 5-star ratings.</p> <h3>Review Sites Drive Customer Service</h3> <p>Business-review sites can be a valuable tool in managing customer service, especially for businesses with multiple locations such as MyEyeDr. When lodging a complaint, customers often reveal employee names and locations, along with a way to contact the aggrieved through the site. These features can not only hold employees accountable but also offer a mechanism for dealing with customer service problems as they occur.</p> <h3>Not Just Local Business</h3> <p>Mobile marketing can attract customers who are not local to your business, Navin tells me. For example, ecommerce sellers are creating mobile catalogs to allow on-the-go shopping. Rather than listing all items for sale, they are promoting their most compelling offers with navigation designed for the mobile experience.</p> <p>Businesses are also using mobile technology at out-of-town special events, trade shows, and conferences. They might distribute literature with QR codes that direct prospects to specially-designed landing pages, invite customers to their booths or venues, and accept mobile payments.</p> <h3>Mobile Can Do It All</h3> <p>Lawren, of a/perture cinema, sees a growing reliance on mobile technology. To capitalize on this trend, she directed a mobile-friendly re-design of her cinema&rsquo;s website. Customers are visiting the website to check out film descriptions and show times, just as they always have, but they are also buying tickets on their mobile devices and redeeming mobile versions of Groupons. By facilitating transactions this way, Lawren's mobile-friendly site closes the mobile-marketing loop.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">13 Ways to Use Social Media in Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Join Us at the New York Times Small Business Summit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Keep Your Job Search a Secret</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center groupon mobile marketing small business smart phones social media urban spoon Yelp Wed, 22 Jun 2011 21:13:43 +0000 Julie Rains 572759 at