Money is tight for just about everyone right now, barring the cell phone company CEOs who are raking in more money than they know what to do with because you’re paying too much on your cell phone bill. Sometimes bills are inevitable to avoid, but there’s an answer to the question on everyone’s mind –how do I save on my cell phone bill?

• Avoid Texts. This is a no-brainer. There are about a million applications out there that offer the same type function of text messaging without having to set up a costly contract with a major company. Check out some alternative apps like WeChat or TextPlus. Instead of paying for unlimited texts through your cell phone provider, get a free SIM card through Mobi-Data that offers coverage 97% of the UK without long-term contracts. By using data only plans like these, you still get all of the functionality and then some without having to worry about a huge monthly bill.

• Avoid Calls. Video chatting has become the next big thing in communication, allowing a much richer form of communication than chats on a telephone call. Before locking into a several-year contract, try out your other calling options. By going outside your service provider with your calls, you only have to worry about data usage and not about how many minutes you’re clocking and with whom. Many contracts give you free night and weekend minutes that can be complicated to take advantage of or some may allow free calls but only to certain members of a plan or fellow users. Instead, go with something free and take advantage of all it has to offer.

• Avoid Contracts. You’re not alone if you’ve ever been wooed by a cell phone company with the glittery promise of a ridiculously cheap phone at contract signing time. It can be baffling how little they’re willing to let you pay to walk away with a new phone but you’d be foolish to think they aren’t making money that way. Mainstream cell phone companies rake in the money with deals like this because they make their money back (and then some) with the contracts you’re locked into. Chances are your phone will break before your contract is up or you’ll have to pay a cancellation fee to switch carriers. These things add up quickly. Instead, buy an unlocked phone for a little bit more and enjoy your freedom. Look at it as an investment for the future as it will save you money in the long run.

While you could forgo the cell phone altogether to keep your monthly expenses in check, you’d certainly be in the minority. The best advice that can be offered is to not settle for a large monthly payment when there may be options out there that can help you tremendously. By assuming you have no other options you’re only making it true. Review your current situation and search for alternatives – there’s more than you might think out there!

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David Bakke constantly searches for new ways to save money and shares his findings on the personal finance blog, Money Crashers.

Show me a bunch of ways to save $10 per month, and I won’t be too interested. Explain to me how to save $25 a month, and my eyebrows might rise a tad. But if you mention shaving off $50 per month from what I spend, now that gets some attention. Think about it: An extra $50 in your pocket each month comes out to $600 at the end of the year. If you can find five ways to save an extra $50 per month, and your savings rise to a whopping $3,000 per year

Fortunately, finding five ways to save $50 each month isn’t that difficult:

1. Clip Coupons
Far too few people take advantage of coupons. Extreme couponers – those who put in some serious time – can shave off upwards of 80% from their grocery bills. However, it only takes saving $12.50 per week to reach the $50 monthly threshold, and doing so is relatively easy: Each Sunday, pick up a few copies of your local paper, or save that cost by trading coupons with your friends on the things you each buy. Organize your coupons by expiration date, and try to shop on the day that your local supermarket doubles coupon values. Sign up for loyalty programs and discount cards, and join a coupon service, such as Coupon Cactus or Shopping Nanny, for additional deals.

2. Bundle Services
There’s just no sense in having your cell phone, cable TV, and Internet service contracts with three different companies. Check out bundle offers from a few providers, and make the best choice. But don’t stop there. When you call, ask if the advertised price can be improved upon, and you may be pleasantly surprised: “Consumer Reports” conducted a survey in which a third of participants asked for a better deal – and 90% of them got it.

3. Eat Out Less
If you eliminate just one family trip to a restaurant each month, your household can easily save more than $50. And when you do dine out, do it smart. Take advantage of daily deal sites such as Groupon or Living Social for half-off offers. And there are many cell phone apps, such as Bite Hunter, that provide you with meal deals in your area.

4. Take Lunch to Work
Let’s say you eat out every day of the workweek and, on average, spend $7 per meal. That’s $35 per week. If you bring your own lunch to work, you’ll spend roughly $2 per lunch. The final tallied savings: $100 every month. Plus, what you put together at home is sure to be much healthier than restaurant food.

5. Pay Off Credit Card Balances
At first glance, this seems like spending, not saving. But the average American carries approximately $7,000 in credit card debt and pays about $1,000 per year in interest. By eliminating this costly expense, you can save more than $80 per month. Even if your debts aren’t that significant, it’s still worthwhile to pay them off – it’s never worthwhile to pay interest.

Final Thoughts
Unfortunately, the majority of Americans are woefully unprepared for retirement, and many more have no emergency fund whatsoever. Therefore, now is the time to improve your personal finances and save more money. By making these small changes, you can line your pockets with some significant extra cash.

What other ways can you think of to save $50 per month?

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