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Your phone usage has patterns. If you knew what those patterns are, you could come to an arrangement with the telephone company that will save you a lot of money.

But “how on earth can I unveil those patterns?” you ask. Well good news, Excel can crack your calling habits wide open.

Lets take a look at your phone bill in its original pattern:

Phone Bill
Sample Phone Bill

There seems to be no patterns here.

But wait, let's convert it into Excel. I do this by using Cogniview's PDF to XLS converter.

Here is the result:

Excel Results

OK, that looks better. Still no patterns it seems, but you do have that calming blue grid. Now let's work some magic.

First let's split the Destination into state and city:

City and State Results

And the time into the hours of the day:

Now let's make some graphs and see if there is a specific state I call to:

Now the patterns show with full force.

Apparently I should find some sort of deal with cheap calls to NY and also possibly Nevada.

Let's see what our analysis of call hours will come up with:

It's glaringly obvious that I should look for a discount on calls between 9AM and 11AM and possibly right after lunch.

Saving Money on Your Phone Bill

If you get your phone bills as PDF files like I do, use PDF2XL to convert them into Excel. In fact, even if you still get your bills on paper, you can scan them and convert them to Excel using the same software!

Armed with the power of Excel and a little conversion help I was able to uncover hidden treasures inside my phone bill and I am sure you will be able to do this as well.

The phone bill analysis can be found here.

Photo Credit: George Dolgikh

About Yoav Ezer

Yoav co-authors Codswallop, a technology and productivity blog. He is also the CEO of Cogniview. For more Excel tips, join Yoav Ezer on Facebook or Twitter

14 comments add your comment

  1. It’s a great way to find patterns, but will your phone company give you a discount for those hours? The reason day time calling isn’t usually included in your “unlimited” plan is because that’s when everyone makes the most calls. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out! Please update us!

  2. You should be an investigator or something! Never even thought about using excel to track cell phone spending patterns. Definitely seems like it couldn’t hurt. I guess it’s off to excel I go!

  3. @Ninja: I thought I was good with Excel, but Yoav pulls up some cool and practical ways to use it with finances.

    @Jenn: Sometimes you can use the information to hunt for a better phone plan. We upped our cell phone plan to save money.

  4. I’m always thinking about how much money I should have when I retire. What my life will look like later down the line. But for right now I’m trying to enjoy what I have to the fullest without putting a dent in my pocket. Especially now these days, almost everything costs an arm and one leg. I am contributing to my savings every month for any emergency, even for a retirement fund. But realistically I don’t think any amount of savings will ever be enough, it just depends on how you manage all your expenses or investments when the time comes.

  5. The only problem with doing this is that for lesser computer literate groups it might take along time to get a hold of excel and a pdf converter.

  6. @Matthew Rogers: I know some people may not find this information applicable to them, but I know many that love to use Excel.

  7. I know with Sprint all this is done automatically. Its a one button process and they even let you know if there is a better suited plan

  8. @Evan: Thanks for the tip Evan, We have Sprint and it’s nice to know they have that feature.

  9. great tips thanks. My phone bills are generally pretty low anyway, but there is always room for improvement. PDF2XL looks a handy bit of program too.