Control your cell phone bill by using an allowance

cell phone kidT-Mobile is rolling out a new feature in the next few weeks called "Family Allowances" which lets parents control just about every aspect of phone usage. The plan starts out at $2 a month and covers up to 5 lines on your account. The new feature comes on the heels of feedback from 30% of parents who identified their primary concern was getting a surprise bill.

The Family Allowances program will let parents set the number of texts, downloads and minutes on their children's phones using an online tool, as well as limiting the times of the day that the phone will work. Parents can put their minds at ease with the ability to set up always-allowed numbers which will permit their children to reach them at any time.

While the "Family Allowances" feature is aimed at helping parents curb kid's desires and their inability to follow the phone usage limits imposed at the dinner table, there is also a cool way that "adults" with less self control can use the feature to manage their own usage as well. We've all heard of freezing your own credit card to ward off the temptation of overspending. Well, if you can't stop your urge to download ringtones or curb your text messaging, you can set up an allowance for yourself so that you don't go over your plan amounts. Since you'll have to wait until you're in front of a computer to bump up your limit, you'll have likely overcome the urge to purchase the new "I Kissed a Girl" ringtone you thought was sooo sweet last night.

Whether you use this to keep your kids from overspending or just to keep yourself in check, the Family Allowances feature from T-Mobile is a cool new product. I wish I could impliment this on my Verizon plan to make sure that my sister, who is on our plan, doesn't go over her text messaging limits. Don't forget that by eliminating a surprise bill for overages you'll also be able to fit your cell phone into your budget without monthly adjustments. Finally, this form of cell phone control actually stands a chance of being accepted by kids because it isn't limited to some Fisher-Price-style phone with four buttons and a love for the primary colors.

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