Welcome to my first installment of Frugal Fridays!!
At the top of our list of goals for 2013 is to pay off a LOT of debt. There are many things that we are currently doing, or talking about doing, that will help contribute to this goal. It is not just a dream, it is something we are GOING to do and we have plans of how we are going to do it.
I plan on trying to post each Friday about one of the actions we are taking to meet that goal. Ways we have cut back, eliminated or adjusted our spending habits. I am going to call these “Tips to saving money, and getting out of debt!”
Ok on to the first tip! End your relationship with your wireless phone carrier, or amend your relationship. We broke up with Verizon wireless over six months ago and are saving SOOO much money!
Here is our story…
The hubs and I started dating in the summer of 2006 and within a few months signed a two year phone contract with Verizon. I remember him being sooo nervous. It was such a HUGE commitment for him. It was a no brainier for me, I wasn’t planning on going anywhere and since we basically talked to each other most, it made since to take advantage of the “family plan” with free minutes mobile-to-mobile. Two years later and we were married and I got to upgrade to the Motorola Envy (1). This were a HUGE upgrade, with a decent camera, QWERTY keyboard and ability to get online (which I never used). I loved that phone. This was also about the time that everyone was getting the Blackberry. I didn’t see the appeal and thought they cost too much, and why in the heck would you need to be so connected. Hah!
2 years later and it was time for another upgrade. Since we were on Verizon (iPhone still was not available through them) we decided to try out an Android (2). The very first Android phone had just been launched and we were fortunate to get it during a great promotion, Buy One and Get One for Free. And somehow we didn’t seem to mind the additional $60 a month it cost for the data.
A year and half later, we were pregnant and I was having the panic moment of “how are we going to afford a kid” and pay all the student loans that are going to go back into repayment VERY soon. We had to start really budgeting and finding ways to cut back and live on less. I started contemplating ditching the smart phone and going back to a normal phone. It seemed strange to give up something that had become such a huge part of my daily life. How could I LIVE without it?!! Hmm…the same way I lived without it for MOST of my life. We changed our plan back and reactivated our older phones. I missed the convenience, but it wasn’t that bad. I just had to be more intentional and plan a head (print directions before I leave or look up a recipe at home and make a shopping list!).
In the last few weeks of my maternity leave and the impending start of child care costs, I started scrutinizing our budget again. It was sickening to realize that we still needed to cut more costs (by this point we had already gotten rid of cable and internet, Hubby was riding the bus and our food budget had been slashed in half). It seems like the only thing that could go were the phones. We were paying Verizon around $110 a month for 700 shared min and texting. Seemed pretty expensive, there must be something cheaper. Our contract had just expired, so we weren’t tied down to them. I started researching pre-paid phones and realized that we could save bookoo bucks if we ditched Verizon.
In July we cut ties with Verizon and started using Tracfones (3). I got a smoking deal. $100 for a phone and 1600 min. This was going to save us so much money (or so I thought). I underestimated how much I actually talk on my phone and text. I went through those 1600 min in 4 months and realized I needed an unlimited phone plan. Hubby on the other hand, STILL hasn’t used all his minutes up. The problem was, at the rate I was talking on the phone, it was going to cost around $35-$40 a month to keep buying additional minutes. As I did research on pre-paid phones, I realized that an unlimited plan would probably be a better deal for me.
By luck, I received an email from Wal-Mart advertising their Straight Talk pre-paid plan . OMG…it runs on AT&T towers (so I have coverage in rural Washington) and I could have a smart phone again, all for only $45 a month. What?! Sounds too good to be true…but it isn’t! I scoured the internet looking for reviews and honest feedback on this program and everything I read was positive and the best part, I could use it on an iPhone (with their $15 Sim Card)! OMG…an iPhone?! Yes! I could have my cake and eat it too! Then I got lucky and found out that a co-worker had just upgraded to the iPhone 5 and had an iPhone 4 that he wouldn’t be using anymore and was willing to sell me. Merry Christmas to Hailey, I got an iPhone!!
I have now been using the iPhone (4) with Straight Talk for a month. It is awesome! (Ok…maybe not as awesome as an iPhone 5 on 4G…but still awesome compared to what I was using). I haven’t had any problems with the call quality or the 3G service.
Oh…and speaking of switching. I have been able to keep my original Verizon phone number (porting your number is very easy and simple and they have great instructions on how to do that).
So…if you think that a contract is the ONLY way you can have a smart phone, think again! Ditch the contract and use a pre-paid phone!