Wow, cell phone plans, no matter the type, make the tax code look simple. So, what’s important in looking at cell phone plans – quality of service, calling patterns and number of phones. Currently, we have about the best plan we can get on a monthly with rollover and three phones, but it’s costing us $75/mo and we never use the (550) shared minutes. And a lot of our calls could really be made from a land line. So, currently we spend $900/yr. and use about 2400 minutes per year among the three of us. We looked at a lot of different plans – none of the monthly plans helped us out at all. We had pamphlets and brochures everywhere, sorting through the various plans as well as checking cellular comparison sites on the web. I personally recommend www.myrateplan.com for comparing prepay and pay-as-you-go options and www.point.com for shared monthly plans.
Alltel, GoPhone (AT&T), TracFone, Net10, Virgin – we sifted and sorted and Net10 came up looking pretty good at $15/mo, especially when you add in the phones running about $30 each (lowest price flip phone – one of our requirements). Initial cost – $90 for 300 minutes per phone for 60 days or $45/mo with the phones included. Texting is a nickel per text, making it cheaper than calling for information only messages like "Practice has been moved to the other field and is ending at 8:30 tonight" (the heir will be thrilled). There were plans that looked like they would be cheaper, but we didn’t want to be worrying about call days plus call times plus service dates plus and so on and so forth. Net10 pretty much boils down to a dime a minute and a nickel per text. The minutes expire yes, and are higher than we supposedly use now, but without a mobile to mobile, that seems like a reasonable safety net.
I should also mention an expense this time around – we purchased a new phone and answering machine system for home since a land line was one of our requirements for dropping monthly cell service. Checking Best Buy first we found a nice set of AT&T phones, 3 cordless handsets and base stations for $130. Looked good until we found the identical (down to the model number) set at Target for $90. This was an intended purchase; while the old phone and answering machine worked fine, the cordless battery was past redemption and we couldn’t find a replacement.
April Savings Total – $360/year, added texting option, new phones included
Cumulative Savings Total – $2010/year ($10 ahead of $500/mo goal)
Remaing Savings Towards Goal – $3990