Cellphones are a conundrum. On the one hand they can be very convenient. On the other they cost a lot of money (especially in Canada). You may well find that you have to cut back on cellphone usage in order to get by.
If you have a cellphone plan that allows free incoming calls but charges for outgoing ones, you can make "outgoing" calls to people on landlines by calling them and asking them to call you back immediately.
"Pay-as-you-go" phone plans can be attractive, but only if your phone is for very occasional usage. Otherwise the per-minute charges add up quickly - but if money gets too tight it is easy to cut yourself off by simply avoiding the purchase of minutes.
One major charge for people with smartphones is a data plan. These often start at $25 per month. It is worth tracking your data usage and deciding whether it is worth subscribing to a data plan, and whether you can adjust your usage to access the internet only when connected to WiFi.
Pagers and Voicemail
Some cheaper alternatives to cellphones are pagers and voicemail. The Working Centre offers a community voicemail service free of charge, and pager service can cost less than the corresponding cellphone.
These services are attractive if you mostly receive incoming calls, or if you need a stable phone number because you move a lot. Access to a convenient way of making outgoing calls - perhaps where you work or volunteer - is a great asset as well. Public telephones have become expensive and are disappearing from the landscape.
You may find it cheaper overall to use a pager or voicemail in conjunction with a cellphone that has low monthly charges. You can give out your voicemail or pager number for incoming calls, and only resort to the cellphone when you have no other options.
An alternative to keeping your cellphone is to keep a landline telephone instead, or to turn to some of the alternatives like VoIP, detailed in previous pages. You may find that it is cheaper to phone home and check your voicemail messages remotely than it is to maintain a separate cellphone.