Despite all the family plans that cell carriers have pushed in recent years, our monthly cell phone bills continue to go up and up and up.
But this year there are new options for lowering those bills, without dropping your smartphone. But the key is: You have to ask.
Sky High Bills
Remember when a cell phone bill was $40 a month? Neither do most people.
Many smartphone bills long ago passed $100.
Danielle Hofacre could use some relief, with a bill closing in on $200 a month. But doesn't know where to start.
"No, not at all," she said. "I mean what do you cut down?"
Good point. No one wants to downgrade their data plan.
New Pricing Wars for 2014
The good news: You can lower your rising rates, thanks to new rate plan wars.
But you have to do the work, as your carrier won't just offer it to you.
-AT&T has just lowered single smartphone rates from $80 down to $65 a month for voice, text, and 2 gigs of data.
-Verizon recently cut the price of its Edge plan from $90 to $80 a month, though most customers are not on that plan.
-T Mobile, which started the wars, has a Simple Choice plan with 1 gig of data for $50 a month.
--Sprint's newest Family Plan lets you add another member for as low as $25 a month, including data.
Julio Clark cut his bills by doing just that. "We each pay $45 a month for text and minutes and everything, on our family plan" he said.
Other Ways to Save
Also, save $10 a month by dropping texting entirely, then using an app like "What's App" to send texts virtually free.
Not enough savings?
Consider a prepaid phone from Walmart's Straight Talk, Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile, Net 10, or iWireless.Websites like Save on Phone.com compare them for you.
For less than $50 a month on most prepaid plans, you'll get unlimited talk, text, and around 2 gigs of data.
Bottom line: The major carriers all have new plans this year. But you have to call them and ask, they will not offer these to you.
Or consider prepaid, so you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
"Like" John Matarese on Facebook
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)