Talk isn't cheap.

In the 21st century we text, talk and suck data 24/7.

Some households spend an eye-watering hundreds of dollars a month on mobile/landline/broadband costs.

It's true that each minute, text or megabyte (mb) of mobile or gigabyte of home data we consume is cheaper than it used to be.

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It's just that we're doing so much more of it.

So here are some tightwad tips for getting control around your telephony spend:

Knowledge is power

If you want the best deal then you need to understand your own use and behaviour patterns.

For example, I call Australia regularly and switched to using my mobile phone for this purpose because I had 100 "free" New Zealand and Australian minutes per month, saving up to $100 a year.

An annual review of your telecom use really pays dividends.

Shop around

I roll my eyes at people who think that their provider or plan is the "best".

The best package depends on each individual's circumstances.

Some people need a pile of data, texts, or calls and others virtually none.

Or like me they love rollover minutes and data.

Others like one plan that they can share with family members, or a plan that allows them to phone their home country for free.

Don't limit yourself to just Spark, Vodafone and 2Degrees, although they all have a huge range of deals.

Slingshot and other broadband providers also offer mobile. Skinny and the newer SkinnyDirect, both owned by Spark, are two separate services that offer some pretty competitive low cost packages.

If you're a very low user who benefits from pay-as-you-go then Warehouse Mobile only charges 4c a minute for calls, 2c for texts and 6c per mb of data.

Just beware of "free" phone deals which are invariably expensive. See http://tinyurl.com/expensivebutfree

Check the extras

Some people can't face switching or want mobile, broadband and landline with one provider.

They may even want pay TV, Spotify and electricity rolled in, although it's hard to compare apples with apples if it's all in one package.

Even if you don't want to switch providers, it's essential to dig deep into your existing provider's website to ensure you're on the best deal for you.

That often means adding "value packs" where you pay a fixed monthly fee for a certain number of calls, texts and megabytes or overseas minutes.

Beware of "fair usage" policies on so-called unlimited packages.

Seek help

If you don't want to do your own numbers in a spreadsheet contact the call centre or post on the company's social media pages to get them to analyse your spend and suggest a better combination of package and extras.

There are also online comparison engines such as WhistleOut.co.nz for mobile and Glimp.co.nz for broadband/landline.

They compare a variety of providers, some I'd never heard of.

Perks

There are so many perks available that I could fill half this newspaper listing them. So do check.

Spark, for example, has "Socialiser", which is free data for social media use.

Just lately there have been a lot of introductory offers on broadband and mobile, although be aware that you'll be signing up for a minimum period.

Vodafone and 2Degrees have deals for students and/or under 25s.

Restrict background data

Mobile phones chew through data by updating apps whenever they feel like it.

On Android there is a setting that allows you to restrict background data.

That means non-essential updates only happen when your phone is connected to Wi-Fi.

On Apple, look for the Background App Refresh settings.

You can also choose mobile packages that cut off once usage goes over a certain limit.

When this happens customers can buy another chunk of calls/texts/data easily.

The advantage is they're doing it with their eyes open and not getting bill shock from expensive pay-as-you-go charges.

Spend control apps

Look for tools from your provider that allow you to view and control your use.

There are also third party apps that compress our data usage or toggle the Wi-Fi on and off.

I use Smart Wi-Fi Toggler, which turns my Wi-Fi on automatically when I get home or in a range of hotspots I've used before.

Onavo Extend is a popular app for saving data.

Also, it's easy to save call charges by using WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat and others when connected to Wi-Fi.

Break your smartphone addiction

Do you really need to call? Could you text, or wait to send an email when you're back on Wi-Fi?

Ironically there are even apps to stop smartphone addiction such as Offtime and BreakFree.

Finally, sometimes the best option is a downgrade - not an upgrade.

If you're not using all the calls/minutes/data on your mobile or home broadband/landline package shop around.

Don't be scared of going pre-paid.

Most such packages automatically roll over these days so you'll never need to top up manually.