Saving $100 a Month on Our Cell Phone Bill

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to cut costs was on our cell phone bill. When we were on Verizon over a year ago, we spent about $160 a month on our cell phone plan. Now we spend only $63/month, which is almost $100 in savings a month, or $1200 a year. How did we do that? We got rid of our cell phone contracts, got unlocked phones, and got prepaid plans.

This is why I will never get a 2-year contract again:

1. Cell Phone Contracts are a Sham 
The standard two year cell phone contract does not benefit the consumer at all. I hear it all the time – people wait for their phone contracts to end so they can renew their contract and get a new phone at the cheaper, subsidized price. An iPhone 6 on contract starts at $200 while buying it off contract is $650. That would seem crazy to buy a $650 phone, right? That’s exactly what AT&T and Verizon want you to think. They don’t give you a $450 discount because they’re being charitable. They make up that difference by charging you higher monthly fees, all while locking you in as a customer for two years. It’s worse for people on a family plan – everyone has different contract end dates which makes it even harder to leave your provider.

2. I Can Get a Cheaper Monthly Rate Going Prepaid
Our Plans: 
  • Unlimited Text & Calls
  • Unlimited Data (2.5GB high speed)
Cricket
Cricket Wireless Plans
  • Unlimited Data and Text (5GB high speed)
  • 100 Calling Minutes
  • Save an extra $2 buying refill cards online using a Target Redcard and EBates
IMG_1166
My $28/Month Plan

I highly recommend Cricket for anyone that would ever consider switching to a (*gasp) prepaid provider. Cricket is owned by AT&T, so you’re basically getting AT&T service, just at a cheaper rate. AT&T does this so they can compete with other prepaid brands like Metro PCS and Straight Talk. The T-Mobile prepaid plan that I use for myself only has 100 calling minutes, which I get around by using Google Hangouts which allows me to call over my data connection. While it makes regular calling a little less convenient, I save $7 a month vs. using Cricket, which is $84 a year in savings. Remember, Dad is Cheap.

Verizon and AT&T make you think that by using their plans, you’re getting the best possible coverage. While I can’t completely disagree with that, I do think that the coverage with most providers work well enough, especially in major areas. Living in LA County, I’ve used AT&T, Verizon, Cricket, and T-Mobile and they’ve all worked fine. The great thing about being off contract is that i’m ALWAYS shopping around for that better deal and I can always jump carriers whenever I want.

3. I’m Less likely to Buy a New Phone
flickr photo: drew_dslr
flickr photo: drew_dslr

I get it, I get it. We all want the latest and greatest. We get sucked into the marketing that we need “The Next Big Thing”. The truth is, nothing new has really happened since phones went from 3G to 4G. While screen sizes have gotten a little bigger and cameras have gotten sharper, there is nothing that compels me to get a shiny new phone. I have a perfectly fine iPhone 5s that I intend to keep as long as possible until it slows down to a crawl or my daughter breaks it. I think I just jinxed myself 🙂

4. It’s All About About Total Cost, Not Monthly Cost
Whenever I tell someone to go off contract, the biggest issue that they have is that they don’t want to pay full price for a brand new phone. Shoot, I don’t either! Which is why I’d recommend to people that they’re better off buying a used phone on Craigslist or on sites such as Swappa. I talk about iPhones in this post only because it’s the most popular phone out there, but you can also get a good brand new Android phone such as the Moto X or OnePlus One for less than an iPhone.

If you have a cell phone contract you’re still paying full price for a new phone, it’s just hidden in the monthly costs. When you compare the total costs of getting a new phone you can see how much you can save if you go prepaid:

AT&T Plan
AT&T Individual Plan – $80/month
Verizon (2GB) / AT&T (3GB) – 2 Year Contract
*New iPhone 6 = $200
*Activation Fee = $40
*Monthly ($80/month) = $1920

*Total Cost = $2160

Cricket (2.5 GB) – 2 Year Cost
*New iPhone 6 = $650
*Monthly ($35/month) = $840

*Total Cost = $1490

Total Savings = $670

Is Verizon and AT&Ts coverage worth the added cost of $670? Not to me. While the upfront costs of paying for an unlocked phone off contract is crazy expensive, in the end you save a lot more in the long run. Most people don’t worry about cutting their cell phone bill because they can “afford” the monthly payment. Even if you can cut your payment $10, that’s an extra $120 in your pocket each year! Now that $1200 a year we save can go to more important things like retirement, paying off our house, or funding our daughter’s 529 Plan. Once I realized how much the total costs were of having on a cell phone contract, it was a no brainer to ditch my contract and go prepaid.

cover photo image credit: 401kcalculator.org 

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16 thoughts on “Saving $100 a Month on Our Cell Phone Bill

  1. Thank you so much for writing this article! I use Straight Talk, which offers phones that use different major towers, and it is a STRUGGLE trying to get my friends to comprehend the fact that they’re WASTING money by sticking to contract plans!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment Jen!

      I’m in the same boat as you – I can’t get many people to realize that they could save so much if they just bought the phone outright and went with a cheap plan. I think most people just assume that companies like Straight Talk and Cricket aren’t as good when they’re really using the same coverage as the big providers. They also don’t like the idea of paying $600+ for a new iPhone or Galaxy when they’re essentially financing the difference by getting locked into a two year contract with a more expensive monthly rate.

      Like

  2. I have Straight Talk now, but plan on looking into the new verizon plan called Total Wireless. I think contracts are a huge waste of money!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Contracts are a huge waste! Most people see the ads for $200 iPhones or Galaxy S6 but don’t realize the total cost is a lot more expensive then buying a phone outright.

      I heard a lot of good things about Straight Talk. Let me know how Total Wireless is!

      Thanks for your comment!

      Like

  3. I like it. Like the other two readers here, I totally agree that they try and get you with the “cheaper” phone but charge you an arm and a leg for the monthly fees. I’m glad I got out of my contract!

    Now about those “Special Bonus Savings Account” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading Kristin!

      Oh I get tempted all the time anytime I see my friends with an iPhone 6+ or Galaxy 6! I just don’t want to get in the habit of always wanting to upgrade since the next hottest phone is always right around the corner. I just can’t justify a $600 purchase every year. Plus, who really needs a 20 MP on their phone when all they’re gonna do with the pic is upload it into a tiny 3×3 inch square for Instagram? 🙂

      Like

  4. This is a pretty awesome post.
    I actually sell cricket at my store, so I’m glad to see the awesome savings compared.
    Also to know (and this might be my salesperson showing) you can sign up for autopay through a credit or debit card, and save an extra five bucks a month.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m already there! I have the $40 plan which I use autopay to get the rate of $35. Another hack I’ve found to save a few bucks is to get the lowest rate, and anytime you exceed your high speed data limit you upgrade to the next highest one. You’ll get a prorated rate for the rest of the month. I do this anytime my wife goes over – she only needs extra 4G for a day or two, so she’ll pay an extra $1 or $2. When her next cycle starts, I revert the plan back to $35.

      I love Cricket! I tell people any chance I get to use them!

      Like

  5. I have Republic Wireless and my bill is about $12.71 a month. It uses wi-fi whenever possible instead of cell coverage. I canceled my home phone when I got this. I had to buy the phone outright. It was about $150 from RW.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that’s awesome Chris! I’ve been thinking about RW, but sadly they don’t do iPhones. I used to be an Android guy but it was just easier to video chat through FaceTime so my family can see my daughter.

      Like

      1. That’s definitely worth paying for! My son is the only grandchild of my parents and we live over 1,000 miles away. He’s in his 20’s now. They would have loved something like that!

        Like

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    Like

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