Cell phones are nonnegotiables for a lot of us these days. (Understatement.) :) Even if we're making a focused effort to pay down debt...or trying to keep our budget under control (because we've got more important ways to put our money to work), cell phone coverage may seem like a line item without wiggle room. But...it just might actually be a place to consider making some changes worth quite a bit of savings.
Cell phones + children is a whole issue of its own. I don't really want to discuss the feelings + values + fears that are involved with that...but I thought I would share a little of what I've discovered while looking into budget conscious cell phone coverage (in order to stay connected with my daughter) lately...in case anyone is interested. I only spent a little while looking, so this is no comprehensive list...and it is USA specific. The point is...there are some surprising options to be found!
Before we move on to the list...we need to really get honest about exactly what is "enough" when it comes to cell phone coverage. Do I need unlimited data, or could I actually stand to feel the sun on my face...to take some deep breaths + enjoy the wait? Do I need to make phone calls all the way to work, or could I just listen to the radio + call them when I get to work or home? (Cheaper home phone coverage.) In this particular case I'm looking for a way to be connected to my daughter when she is at her activities away from home. I would like to be able to text with her + I'd like her to have access to making calls in case of an emergency. If she needs access to data, she will be able to use wifi. This phone will not live in her room + she won't need it every day of the week.
The types of plans listed here could work just as well for someone who wants or needs the savings...is just willing to adjust priorities + be disciplined. It may just require us to use our phones as a tools rather than as entertainment.
I've listed the plan specifics that fit our needs, but there are different combinations available in most cases that will still yield major savings in comparison to a lot of plans out there. For example, I like to have access to maps...but I don't use them very often...so maybe a very small amount of data added to one of these plans might be enough. Discernment + discipline are where it's at! :)
Relay :: This is a tool that might be just right for children :: $7 per month to be able to talk to them + GPS locate them
Red Pocket :: $10/30 days :: (uses various networks) $10 per month for 500 minutes, 500 texts, 500MB of data, free international calls to 70 countries
Republic Wireless :: Wireless Unlimited Talk + Text plan :: (uses Sprint/T-Mobile networks) $15 per month for unlimited minutes + texts + no data
Tello :: Build Your Own plan :: (uses Sprint network) $5 per month for 100 minutes + unlimited texts + no data
Ting :: Pay for What You Use :: $12 per month for 100 minutes + 100 texts + no data :: if nothing is used in a month, $6
T-Mobile :: Prepaid Pay as You Go plan :: $3 for any combination of 30 minutes or texts, 10 cents per minute or text over that
AT+T :: Gophone Daily plan :: $2 per day of use for unlimited minutes + texts :: data costs 1 cent per 5KB :: only pay for the days the phone is used
Up until 2 years ago, this is how we cell phoned it. Up until now, that little phone was going strong for keeping Julia + I connected...until it just stopped working. The phone itself still works...we just can't load it anymore + no one seems to be able to help us rectify that. So here we are.
Because cell phones involve values + priorities (they do!), we can apply discipline. A budget is a discipline. Putting our priorities first is it's own reward!