|Help Women, Save on Phone Bill|
|By JOANNA STERN (@joannastern)||Jan 28, 2013, 10:47 AM|
U.S. families spend an average of $139 a month on cellphone usage — or $1,668 a year — up from $127 a month in 2009, according to J.D. Power and Associates. And according to Validas, a company that helps decipher mobile phone bills for companies, 80 percent of us are paying our cellular providers for services we don't even use.
That's extra money going toward text messages you don't send or minutes you don't use. Of course, the Verizons and AT&Ts of the world aren't likely to be forthcoming about that, but Validas' Vera service will.
The service works right now with AT&T and Verizon. Go to Vera's savelovegive.com, input your carrier account information and Vera's algorithms will figure out where you might be able to trim your bill. It analyzes your bill and suggests other plans or services you can cut down on. Right from the site you can then email AT&T or Verizon Wireless to have it change your plan, or you can head to the store yourself.
ABC World News' actually used the service last month to help Phil Barry save on his family's smartphone bill. The service helped him save nearly $1,400 over the course of the year.
But Validas has gone beyond the save portion of the service -- adding "love" and "give" features to its site. After suggesting ways you can cut your bill, it offers the opportunity to donate some of that savings to Seven Bar, a nonprofit organization that makes micro loans to women in need.
"Our brand is about doing good now, not later. We built it into the app, so you can give right when you find out how much you are saving," Todd Dunphy, a co-founder of Validas, told ABC News.
You can give $5, $10, $25 or more through the site, but the donations are made via PayPal, not directly from your cellphone bill. According to Seven Bar founder Renata Black, the money will first go to help women who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
"The app is empowering, and we extend that to empower women," Black told ABC News. "It's not that men aren't amazing, but more importantly, it's said that when you help a women the first thing she does is help her kids. It's the ultimate synergy of one plus one equals six."
Validas and Seven Bar officially launched the charity program last week at an event in New York City. There aren't applications for the iPhone or Android phones yet -- the company's co-founders say they are working on that -- but you can visit savelovegive.com now through any browser to see if there's any money you can save on your bill, and then decide whether to donate any of the savings to charity.