When I posted last week about how we live on $650, I got TONS of questions about my budget. I’m going to go into each category a little further, and give you more info and tips on how to save in that area.
So today, let’s talk about cell phones. It’s a necessary tool in today’s world, isn’t it? It seems like everyone out and about is glued to their phone. And most of those people are paying huge cell phone bills for the pleasure.
Before we went to Europe, we lived in Tennessee, and we had AT&T for our cell phones. We had no data, no texting, and for our two lines we paid $75 after a military discount. Then we moved to Germany, and discovered the German way of doing things: prepaid. Almost nobody there has a contract, which is the norm in the US. I loved how easy and cheap it was! We just added new minutes whenever we needed them, and we paid under $20 a month for TWO phone lines!
When we were getting ready to move back to America, I knew there had to be a cheaper way than going back to the 2-year plans at all the big carriers. So I spent a few months doing research, finding the best possible plans for our family and our area.
How to Choose the Best Plan for You:
1. Figure out which major carriers have good service in your area. You don’t want to end up with a phone that won’t get service at your home or work. I think the best way to do this is by asking friends in the area. But you can also check maps like this to find out coverage areas.
2. Find out which prepaid companies use that major carrier’s network:
3. Decide how you use your phone. Do you need data? Do you talk much, or mostly text? Or maybe you just want one around for emergencies or for your elderly parent.
4. Find a plan that offers what you need, for the lowest price. No need to pay for the frills you won’t use!
Here are a few of my favorite deals:
Scenario: “I text. A lot.”
Plan: ChitChat Mobile’s Basic Plan
You Get: Unlimited Texting + 250 minutes of calling for $9.99.
Add data for $5, making your total $14.99
Scenario: “I just need a phone for emergencies.”
Plan: T-Mobile pay-as-you-go plan
You Get: 30 minutes of talk or 30 text messages for $3
Scenario: “I only use my phone occasionally.”
Plan: Selectel Wireless’ Value Plan
You Get: 300 minutes of talk + 300 texts + 15 mb of data for $15
Plan: PagePlus Cellular
You Get: 250 minutes of talk + 250 texts + 10 mb of data for $12
Scenario: “I use my phone a lot! Talk, text, data – I need it all.”
Plan: RedPocket Mobile’s Unlimited Everything Plan
You Get: unlimited talk, text, & data for $39.99
A few things to note:
- Many of these plans will require you to get a new SIM card when you switch.
- Some, but not all of them, will let you bring your existing phone number with you.
- Some, but not all of them, will let you bring your own phone. Many require that you buy one of their phones, but they are usually lower-costing than most other companies if you needed a phone anyway.
What We Use:
These are the plans that Byron and I use for our cell phones.
Byron uses PagePlus cellular‘s $80/year plan. That comes out to $6.67/month. He has a balance of minutes/texts, and when that runs out, he needs to top it off. But this last year, $80 more than covered his occasional phone usage. He mostly uses his phone for calling me from the grocery store. He uses my phone (with its unlimited-ness) to call people for long conversations.
I use RedPocket Mobile’s Unlimited Everything Plan. I get all the talk, text, and data I need for $39.99 flat. There are no fees or taxes on top of that, I pay exactly $39.99 a month. I use my phone a lot, for calling, texting, apps, internet, so this one really gives me great service for my buck.
So now it’s time to get out your cell phone bill. Take a look at your usage. Read your contract. Do some math: “If I cancel right now and it costs me $200, but I’ll save $450 over staying in my contract, then it’s worth it.” (Also, check this out to find out if there’s a way to get out of your contract.)
You can go to this link to browse all the different prepaid plans available and find one that you like. I’m happy to help answer questions or hear your stories, and I hope this helps you all save some money on your cell phone bills!