Well, this blog has been dormant long enough that it’s safe to believe only the dedicated will still have it stuffed on some RSS feed, so I can use it as a private sandbox for our fiscal responsibility experiment.  The goal is this – to reduce our annual spending by $6000/year.  Just because we’re getting fat and complacent and it just doesn’t seem to be such a good idea in the current economy.  So… here’s the deal…
Each month we will pick a major "fixed" expense, research it and, if one exists, go for a cheaper option.  The net spending reduction or savings (in the case of interest) should be $500/yr or about $40/month on average.  We are expecting some months to be lower (January’s backtrack to PaperBackSwap, for instance) and some to be higher.
This month (March) it’s the cell phones.  Currently we have three lines with AT&T Wirelesss – the same company I switched to escape 5 years ago.  We’re spending about $75 per month for three lines, family plan 500 minutes, rollover, no texting or data.  We first researched comparable plans with the various carriers and essentially discovered that, for our usage habits, they are all about the same cost.  We currently have more than 1800 rollover minutes and they are falling off the back end every month, unused.  The current contract has expired as well, so no penalty for making the change.
We decided we started with the wrong premise as we hadn’t actually looked to see if cellphones were a need or a want and figure out our requirements.  So, we started with a summary of the current situation with the requirement being to a.) reduce our cost and b.) match our phone needs (land and cellular) to our usage requirements.
  1. Reduce costs – current annual cost approximately $900.
  2. Have a phone available at home.
  3. Have a phone available for car emergencies.
  4. Have a phone available for the heir during extracurricular activities.
  5. Texting not required.
  6. Data not required.
  7. Current usage – less than 300 minutes per month.
  8. Internatlional calling not required.
  9. Nationwide long distance – preferred, but optional
  10. Statewide long distance – required.

So, what resources did we use, what did we decide on, what changes did we make and how much money did we save?  (Yes, this was one of the big ones)  The next article will cover the pre-paid vs. pay as you go vs. standard contract decision.  Then we’ll compare plans, phones, coverage, etc…