A year ago, my cell phone bill was $100 a month — which was incredibly expensive for a college student on a budget. Factor in the total cost for the entire year and my wallet was running dry. Luckily, I found an easy way to pay a fraction of the cost for the exact same service by using a prepaid plan.

A common misconception is attributing a “prepaid” plan to the tiny, old flip phones on display at 7-Eleven. However, buying a prepaid phone plan just means that you are purchasing a phone without the expensive two-year contract many cell phone users sign up for. It does not limit you to a phone circa 1990 with no data and a poor network.

The best prepaid plan I found was through a company called Straight Talk. Straight Talk resells services of Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. Unlimited talk, text and data plans are $45 a month, and you can carry over your current phone number. This is a significant price cut from the average $80 a month many students with smartphones pay.

If you already have a phone, just select the network from the original plan during sign-up and you’ll save the hassle of buying a new phone. So, you can sign up for a prepaid plan with Straight Talk, but actually have service through Verizon’s network. And the best part is, there is no costly, two-year contract to tie you down.

Although all major cell phone carriers offer prepaid plans at various costs, sometimes these plans offer fewer benefits for the price — little to no data where adding more data causes prices to skyrocket, and being forced to use the specific company’s phones that are bundled with the plan.

Let’s take Verizon for example. Their prepaid plan currently costs $45 to $60 a month, which seems fairly reasonably priced, but the phone included in the plan costs around $100 (which you have to buy even though you already have a phone) and is incredibly slow. Did I mention the plan only offers one gigabyte of data? These days, with social media and heavy Internet usage, one gigabyte will disappear in no time. Other carriers also have similar disadvantages if you read the fine print.

For those looking for independence from their parents’ family plan, but still seek an affordable phone bill, getting a prepaid plan is a smart choice. After all, our wallets aren’t getting any deeper, and those savings could be better allocated towards more meaningful things, like concert tickets. Hope this money-saving tip helps, and remember to tell your friends, because we all Gaucho back.