Saving Money For Travel Part 2

When I first moved to the US I needed a cell phone and a provider. Alex was with Sprint, and he was paying around $80 per month. They had one of their basic promotions, basic because I feel like that's the kind of promotion they typically have, where you could get unlimited talk, text, and data for around $100 a month for 2 phone lines. It sounded like a great deal, especially since we could lease the phones and pay an additional $40 for those per month. With taxes, fees, and all of that other good stuff our phone bill was around $160 a month. Not bad for an unlimited plan, except that we never used more than a couple of gigs of data and having an unlimited plan didn't really make sense.

We stayed with our plan for 2 years, so we paid around $1920 a year. And total it was around $3840, which is crazy. Our contracts were set to expire this summer so we really had to decide what we wanted to do and if we wanted to keep paying so much a month when we don't really utilize our phone plans to their full potential. 

I began searching for different prepaid plan options, being locked into a contract wasn't very appealing to us and we found that all of the plans were more on the expensive side. Living in NY, we do have the luxury of getting great service from the majority of providers so that enabled me to look even at the most obscure phone providers and plans. There are a lot of phone providers that are MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) which means they don't own their own towers and are using someone else's (like AT&T or Verizon's), but that's how they are able to keep their prices so low.  Also some of them don't have physical store locations which makes their whole operation even cheaper. 

Most of these plans are great if you don't use a lot of data and it's even cheaper if you own your own device or don't care about owning the latest and greatest phone. Here's a list of some decent options along with the providers that we ended up going with:

T Mobile - This is what Alex switched to since he's a slightly heavier data user than me. It's a prepaid plan from T Mobile, and luckily the coverage area is great in New York so it was an easy decision to go with them. He pays $45 a month for unlimited talk and text, and has 4GB of LTE data which after the 4 gigs goes down to 3G. It's not a bad plan and definitely beats what we had before with Sprint. 

Project Fi - This is what I switched to. This is a phone plan from Google, which has very straightforward pricing. It's $20 a month for unlimited talk and text. It also includes international texting which is something that I need. Each GB of data is $10, and if you use less than 1GB they credit you back whatever you didn't use. So if you only used 0.8GB of data you will get $2 credited back on your bill, I really appreciate that. Also, your data is good internationally so there isn't any unexpected roaming charge if you travel abroad and have to use your phone. You keep paying that $10 per GB even if you're in Europe or Asia and you just link up with the local networks. I've kept my data turned off unless I need it so my phone bill this month is $25 which is pretty amazing. The only caveat is that Google Fi is only available to those with Google phones. I switched to a Google phone from an iPhone and I've been loving it!

There are plenty of other cheap plan options, but I'll only mention the cheapest of the cheap.  Ting which lets you decide how many texts, minutes, and data you'd like per month and that way you are able to keep your plan very cheap. They say that their average phone plan is $23 per line per month. Definitely something to consider if you're not a heavy user and are always surrounded by wifi. Another great option is Mint Sim that lets you pay $35 for 3 months, which comes out to $11.67 a month. That's dirt cheap and you actually get a fair amount of data and some of the other good stuff. Unlimited talk, text, and 2GB of 4LTE a month. There are also other options for more data but they are slightly more expensive, definitely still pretty cheap though!

So there you have it! We now pay around $75 a month, which is $900 a year so we're saving around $1000 just from switching to a cheaper phone plan. It's definitely not for everyone and if you don't have wifi at work and at home it makes it kind of impossible to be comfortable with a light data plan. Also, if you live in a rural area you may not get great service with these but it's worth a shot. I do like feeling a bit more disconnected and at times avoiding using my phone because I don't feel like using my data. That just means that when we're out somewhere for dinner I pay more attention to the conversations that we're having and spending less time mindlessly browsing the apps and the web. 

What kind of phone plan do you have? Do you like it?

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