Friday, January 22, 2016

Family Phones update

If there's one area of personal finance where my husband and I disagree the most, it's phones. Me, I just about hate 'em.  When I was in college (that was back in the days when, if you wanted to talk on the phone, you had to stand next to the wall), I spent about 33¢ per month on long-distance calls.  But my husband, he got one of the first ever cell phones, back when these were called "car phones" and they came with a 5-pound battery pack that you had to lug along using a shoulder strap because the thing was so danged heavy.

So it's not surprising that my family has had pretty hefty phone bills AND that I continually try to find ways to bring those bills down from what I see as the stratosphere.

Just FYI, because of all our various kids, we've maintained about five different active cell phones for over a decade now.  For the most recent years that I've been keeping records, our average monthly cell phone bills have been
  • 2012: $274/month
  • 2013: $308/month
  • 2014: $315/month
  • 2015:  . . . dropping to "only" $200/month.
In other words, in the last four years alone, we've spent over $13,000 on cell phone bills.  To me, that's crazy.  To my husband, it's been a life-sustaining, vital expense.

Last summer, I wrote about how my husband finally decided to give up his old, reliable Verizon plan and switch to Ting.  Based on other bloggers' glowing reports, I was all excited to show him that frugal phone plans work, too.  (Yeah!  Goooooo, Miser Mom!)  But unfortunately, the switch was a little black hole of a disaster.  We just don't get Sprint service here at all (necessary for Ting), and the "bucket" approach to data turned out to be a "bathtub" of data for my guy.  All of a sudden we were paying boatloads of money for lousy reception -- the worst of both our worlds.

Fortunately for me, a bunch of different people commented with great suggestions.  The jackpot, as far as my husband was concerned, was the comment that came from Penn, who wrote: 
Verizon has now ditched contracts. So, if he still has a Verizon phone, you can actually do a "bring your own device." There's a variety of data plans. My husband and I share 1 gig a month (we monitor near the end but have been fine). We pay $20 each line for line access.
No worries about extended contracts, and his bill should be under $75 unless he uses a LOT of data. . . . 
So, he moved back to Verizon.  He doesn't swing $20 bucks for his line, but he does, as predicted, keep the cost under $75 -- just about $65, in fact.   (Although he's had one or two months where he had to institute a data-diet toward the end of the month to keep the bill that "low").

As for the rest of us, the boys and I share four lines.  (There are only three of us, but we've learned though repeated losings of phones on the part of the boys that it's just less headache having a back-up phone at home, especially now that we've ditched our land line).  And the cost for our four lines, using Republic Wireless? $53/month.  

So that's how we managed to bring the average cell phone bill down in 2015, and it looks like we'll be able to point to 
  • 2016:  $118/month.
My husband, he's happy with his current phone, so that's good.  And as for me, I look at that phone bill and I know it's not 33¢, but it's definitely heading in the Miser Mom direction . . . so I'll take what I can get.  Thanks one and all for your good advice last August!

1 comment:

  1. Yay! Glad that worked well for you :-) I should clarify that our monthly bill is $78, but that is $20 each for our phones plus $35 for our shared one gig plan. Wish it were lower, but I try not to stress considering that Verizon is the only service that is consistently reliable in the 100+ year old stone building in which we live.