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!


  1. Nice...very cool story here. Actually, you can do anything and buy what you need even if you're on tight budget. It's all about handling your money and resources well. It starts with little things. Until you know it, it's already there. It's all about planning your finances. certified financial planner certification

  2. Having only given up my flip phone a little over a year ago, I completely understand. I had a drawer full of .99 cent replacements flip phones from Ebay too. So whenever one would break, I'd switch the card to another. Like many parents, having a teen is what prompted the move to a smarter phone. It was a grueling decision, because I had close to a year of roll over minutes when I left AT&T, but it was the best thing I've ever done. Besides, texting is so much easier with a alphabet pad!

    Two services I highly recommend are Ting Mobile and Republic Wireless. They are both piggy back carriers off of T-mobile, but I've never had issues with either. Both are contract free.

    Ting mobile( has a unique dashboard payment system, that is tiered toward your usage. They have a calculator on their site that can compare your current billing history to how much you would save with them. It's easy to make changes online, from limiting text/data per individual line to transferring the number to another line if the battery is dead or the phone temporarily displaced. I had two phones with Ting, used <1000 minutes, >1000 text, no data. My highest bill when I had with both lines was $29 dollars.

    Recently we moved one of our lines to Republic Wireless(, a North Carolina based company. They use a unique VOIP technology that lets them use wifi calling when available over cellular service. Because really, at least 60% of our day we are around a wifi network. They have several plans. $5 per month for unlimited cell/text over wifi only, $10 per month unlimited talk/text over wifi & cell & unlimited data over wifi only, $25 per month for unlimited talk/text/data over wifi on network 3G. The downside is that for Republic you have to buy the phone at cost, from them, and they have a limited selection. However, the Moto X I bought for the plan is the best phone/handheld device I've ever owned, I love it. They also allow you to change your data plan 2x per month. I'm usually on the $10 plan, and when we recently took a trip to DC, I changed to the $25 plan for the days we were away. It was great for travel, but really made me appreciate only getting data when I'm on wifi. Personally, I don't like being bugged by my phone with updates all day.

    Hope that helps!