Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Smart Phone on a Tight Budget: Doable

Well, I did it. I went against everything I had said previously, my declaration to society, and a promise made to myself to wait until I paid off my student loan. I got an iPhone.

Allow me to explain.

I have wanted a smart phone for a really long time, and particularly an iPhone. I didn’t care whether it was the 4, the 4S, or the 5. I just wanted to be able to look stuff up on Google whenever I wanted and have a GPS at all times. However, my carrier would require a $30 data charge on top of what I was previously paying ($60), and $90 seemed like way too much for a cell phone bill at this point in my life. Not wanting to switch carriers (I explain why here), I chose to wait until my student debt was paid before I added another expense to my monthly bills. I announced to my friends, family, and the world via blog what my plan was, and I intended to stick to it. That was until my phone started messing up.

Right after my blog, my flip phone, which I have had for almost 2 ½ years, started giving out. I became increasingly frustrated that people on the other end could barely hear me despite how loud I talked. I was trying to make it work, and I honestly intended to until my loan was paid (which, honestly, could have taken a couple of years or ten).

I received a message from my carrier’s marketing department which offered the iPhone 5 for $100 and $60 a month. I was pretty excited about this offer, but like most people, I wondered about all the strings attached. I picked up the phone, got some information, and was surprised to learn that it was a legit offer, but I forgot to ask about added fees. I was frustrated enough with my phone and it was a deal I could not pass up. I made plans to get the phone, and I was so excited!

Sometimes life doesn’t always turn out the way you think it will, and most of the time, it is better.

Here’s what I ended up with:

An iPhone 5 (enter ridiculous amount here)
$42 per month with insurance
Unlimited talk, text, and data (first 500 mb = 4G)
And… T-Mobile instead of Verizon

Why? Well, it was a deal I couldn’t pass up. The phone was a gift, but even if it was an expense out of my pocket, look at what I am saving each year:

If I stuck with my flip phone another year, which realistically wouldn’t last, I’d pay $720.
Over the next year, with insurance (which I didn’t have with Verizon) I’ll pay $504 with T-Mobile.
If I got the Verizon iPhone, I wouldn’t get insurance because it would be an added expense, and I’d be looking at paying around $780 a year with hopes that my phone does not mess up because iPhones are not covered the same way as a regular phone would be under warranty.

I mentioned previously about not wanting to switch carriers because I loved Verizon’s service, and that is honestly still true. But at this point in my life, T-Mobile saves me money and does what it is intended to do which is provide methods of communication. I’m glad I have a reliable way to contact someone because while my old phone might have had great service, it could have given out at any moment.

For those of you out there who are debating on how to save money with your phone service, do your research! Many employers offer discounts for particular cell phone carriers, and some will even pay for all or part of the bill. I am definitely happy to be saving money!