Easiest Way To Get Kids To Pay For Their Own Cell Phone


Am I the only one who thinks that the cost of using a cell phone is obscene?  Aside from my mortgage, it was my second highest monthly expense.  And what do I get for that?  Well, it keeps me occupied when I am in a public place, relieving me of the responsibility of making eye contact or small talk with other humans. It allows me to transmit my thoughts effortlessly from my brain to the tips of my fingers sometimes more quickly than I have had the opportunity to think them through.  It affords me the luxury of finding the answer to an obscure question about anything at any time and any place.  Could I live without it?  Absolutely.  Do I want to? Not really.  It would have come in handy that one time nearly three decades ago when my car broke down on the highway on a dark winter night.  That was quite inconvenient, but obviously, I survived!

I finally said “yes” to the smartphone when my oldest was a senior in high school with the condition that she had to pay for it.  Apparently, denying your teenager a smartphone is a form of child abuse that hadn’t yet been invented when I was a teenager.  A few years later, daughter number 2 got her smartphone.  At some point, to offset some of the other financial responsibilities they had chosen, I assumed the payments for both.  Eventually, things evolved and I decided it was once again time to put the expense back on the ones who were receiving the benefit. I tried different ways of extracting the payments and I found one that I would like to share for those of you who are interested in splitting the expenses for your cell phone bill.

I found out that my cell phone carrier, which is Verizon, would allow multiple payments per month.  Each person in my family can log into the account and pay their own portion of the bill.  The payments are due on the same day each month.  I am the administration so I let everyone know how much they owe.  I strongly recommend that they use their smartphones as a reminder to make sure it gets paid on time. Everyone understands that any late fees will be paid by whomever didn’t pay their bill on time. Of course, repeat offenders may find themselves shopping for their very own cell phone plan!   The only downside for me is that I had to cancel my auto pay.

This arrangement benefits everyone because:

  • They learn the value of things
  • They learn that a smartphone is not an entitlement
  • They learn to pay bills on time
  • I am removed from the role of “villainous bill collector”
  • My cell phone bill is no longer my second largest monthly expense

Anytime I shift the responsibilities so my girls can deal directly with the bill collector, that is what I do.  I would not be doing them any favors to allow them to pay intermittently.   Parents do not always make the best collector of funds because sometimes we’re just too busy to keep track.  Fortunately, our cell phone company has an entire staff of people devoted to tracking whose bill is paid and whose is delinquent.

Now that I’ve gotten my cell phone bill down to a more manageable level, I can put the difference in my retirement account.  Or just maybe, I can use it to get to a beach….so I can hunker down in my beach chair and scroll mindlessly though my phone.



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