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Americans waste billions on unused cell phone data and minutes – are you one of them?

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(Toledo News Now) -

Choosing the right cell phone plan can be intimidating. There are thousands of combinations of options to choose from when selecting a plan.

Many Americans err on the side of caution and buy more than they think they will use, just to avoid paying overages. The mobile analytics firm Validas found that in just the last year Americans spent more than $52 billion on wireless phone services they did not use. The same study revealed 83 percent of users with high data limits did not use all of the data allowed by their plan.

"People are over-buying in the fear that they're gonna go over, but in fact what they keep doing is never using that - those gigabytes they're buying," said Todd Dunphy with Validas.

The Boone family, for example, spends about $240 a month on a plan that includes unlimited data. Amy Boone says the complexity of the plans makes it difficult to choose one.

"It's a puzzle within a puzzle within a puzzle," said Boone. "It's a huge headache to try to figure this stuff out. I think a lot of people just let it go."

Dunphy says service providers are starting to simplify their offerings, with 20 percent fewer plans than two years ago, but still need a variety of options to meet the needs of customers.

"They have different sets of users and people that need all kinds of different things. And, you know, the one size fits all is not going to work," said Dunphy.

The National Consumer League recommends reviewing three months of bills to determine which plan is right for you. In the case of the Boone family, dropping unlimited data saved them $400 a year.

Many wireless carriers recently updated the plans they offer, so now is a good time to check if you are on the right plan. Another way to save is to use wifi when possible to avoid using the cellular network for data.

Experts also recommend looking at phone insurance and deductibles to decide if the insurance is worth the price. Finally, do not forget that fees are negotiable.

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