tl;dr If you don't mind paying 50/month for a mobile plan, you can stop reading now.
Tip #1. Of course there is no one size fits all approach for mobile plans, but if you want to pay as less as possible try to rely on Wi-Fi and internet messaging/calling apps like Skype/Viber or WhatsApp. Skype, for instance, provide free calls to US numbers and offers generally better rates for international calls than any budget mobile operator.
Tip #2. If you don't talk too much or don't use gigabytes of 3G data, I would suggest to go with one of the plans offered by Lycamobile. I'm in no way affiliated with them, but we were quite happy with Lycamobile in Europe and I was surprised to find them in the US. The plans start from 16$ including free US calls/SMS and 50mb of prepaid traffic. Their pay-as-you-go plan can offer even better savings. I highly recommend these guys. They rely on T-Mobile network so the coverage is not as good as AT&T at times, but I constantly hear different complaints from my friends on AT&T. My observation is most of the newcomers on T-Mobile, so you should be good to go. In one of the next posts I will describe the way to minimize data usage on Android phone.
Tip #3: Get Google Voice Number as soon as you get your first mobile number. Give this number as your contact phone and you will not have to think about porting a number if you decide to change a mobile operator in the future. You also get some nice additional benefits with Google Voice.
Stay tuned. More tips to come!