(KNSD) -- In tough times, families are making cuts but they are spending more on their phones than ever before.

"It's a priority, I mean you have to have it," said Marisa Vallbona, a cell phone customer.

Vallbona shells out nearly $300 a month so her public relations business and her two children can be all connected.

"I have to be connected constantly. Connected to my kids, connected to my clients, connected to my parents, connected to my siblings, it's so important," Vallbona said.

A new federal study said spending for phone service went up four-percent last year.

It's an odd sign of the times when people are cutting back on nearly every household expense except their phone bill.

Financial advisor David Elhoff said those phones have gone from being optional to a requirement.

"It's data that's costing the money these days, it isn't the phone, it's the data that's being transferred," said Elhoff.

So how can you keepthe phone budget down? Make sure you only pay for what you need. Don't go with unlimited talk, text or data if you don't need it. Going over your limit can be very expensive. Keep track of your habits and try to pay accordingly.

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