How to Cut Your Cell Phone Bill in Half!

Money. We are all trying to save it, right? I know I am, but what happens when you have nothing left in your budget to cut? The last few years my main financial focus has been to destroy my debt on my car and student loans.

Over the years this mentality has pushed me in the direction of minimalism.  My definition of minimalism is to subscribe less, to everything. Less email, social media sites, clothing, dishes, and stuff in general leaves more time for me! If I am intentional about how I use the things in my life it not only saves me time, it saves me money. So in the last year, I have cut down my subscriptions including Netflix (don’t worry bae still has it) and HBOnow. I switched car insurance plans and started shopping at Aldi’s more.

Side Note: It really is amazing what you can go without, do an experiment for yourself.  You might find time to pursue a new hobby!

This year I was reviewing my finances again, looking for things to cut but there were none. I have already widdled down my budget to the bare minimum. So what do you do when you are already down to the essentials?  I decided to get creative, there had to be some way to reduce my monthly expenses. I ranked all my reoccurring monthly bills from highest to lowest.

  • Rent – utilities included
  • Car payment
  • Student Loan 1
  • Student Loan 2
  • Car insurance
  • Cell phone bill
  • Spotify

There wasn’t anything static I could cut from my list. My car insurance just dropped and none of the other expenses were negotiable.  My rent and utilities are already extremely low because my roommate owns the condo. The only thing I could potentially change was my T-mobile plan.

When I looked into going down a bracket the price difference was not worth it. I would be going from 6 gigs of high-speed data, with unlimited LTE  and rollover to just 2 gigs.  The price drop was $10, but if I went over my data it was $15. Changing my plan wasn’t a great option, so I looked into changing carries.

I turned to one of my favorite sites for money advice, Nerd Wallet.  They have a few articles of different phone plans out there. There were many I never heard of. I read through all of them and Ting appealed to me the most.

Ting is revolutionizing the mobile phone service, and they are doing it by going in the opposite direction of “unlimited everything.” Instead of paying a flat monthly rate for an UNLIMITED amount of data, messages and minutes you pay for exactly what you use, and it is extremely affordable. Almost everywhere you go today has free WiFi, so do you know how much data you are actually using? Are you getting any benefit from your unlimited data package?

I decided to take a look at my mobile habits and what I found surprised me but first, let’s go over how Ting charges for different things. Apps that are used for texting, click here for best texting apps of 2018, do not use messages, they use a small portion of data. Same with the iMessage and WiFi calling. So if you are in an area with WiFi, you are not using any data, messages or minutes.

So I decided to do some math, what engineer doesn’t like math? I looked at my history from the past 3 months and averaged the monthly usage for my account.

T-Mobile flat rate: $72

  • 6 gigs of data at 4G – unlimited at LTE plus data rollover
  • Unlimited texting
  • Unlimited minutes

What I was using:

  • Less than 200 messages/month
  • Less than 100 minutes/month
  • 3  gigs of data/month

I was not utilizing the unlimited portion of my plan, at all. I took these numbers and plugged them into Ting’s rate calculator. Are you ready to hear what mine was? I am not sure you are, I hope you are sitting down… $34.00.  Yes, you read that right thirty-four dollars. Pretty incredible right? They also have another comparison calculator that lets you put in minutes, messages, data and bills then it shows you how much you would save over 2 years.

 

I know what you must be thinking, there has to be a catch, right? No catch, but switching is easier if you have a compatible phone aka, you can replace your sim card.   Which again, Ting has a page for, go Ting!  You’re probably also wondering… what about the network? More good news, they run off of already established networks, like Sprint.

Ting works well for families too! Any of the calculators linked above can be used to examine family plans as well. A family of four with 500 minutes, 2000 texts and 9 gigs of data a month comes in at $34/person! The only real downsides I came up with were they have no physical store, and are a newer company. After weighing all the pros and cons, I decided to go for it! Cutting my monthly mobile phone bill in half sounded amazing!

The Switch

I would not describe myself as a person who enjoys change, especially because I was happy with my T-mobile service, despite the bill.  I also didn’t want to gamble with my service, I am directionally challenged and rely on good old google maps to get around. I should also mention Ting is not promoting this post in any way.  This is just me, trying to save you money and give you options.

Here is how I made the switch:

  1. I checked my phone, it was compatible with Ting’s sim cards.  I had two different options to choose from. GSM and CDMA are different networks that Ting can run on. Both would work with my phone so I looked at the coverage maps and picked CDMA, the Sprint option. I ordered the card, it came to $9.00 + shipping.  In order to buy the card, I had to make an account on Ting, and this is the same account used for billing and setup.
  2. A few days later I got my new sim card in the mail.  Ting has great step by step instructions for setting it up.  Since there are no storefronts, set up is solo.  You can call their customer support if you have a working phone during the processes.
  3. If you want to keep your current number you must port it out.  Each mobile provider has different instructions for doing so, but basically, as soon as you put in a port out request it cancels your current contract because that number is no longer tied to that provider.  It can take a couple of hours for your request to port to get from your current mobile provider to your new mobile provider, so be patient and don’t do it at a time you are expecting any important calls.
  4. Once all the porting business was done all I had to do was pop in the new sim card and wait a little longer for the magical Internets to make it to my phone. An hour or two later I had Sprint service!

The whole set up took around 30 minutes, but I may not have read the directions correctly the first time.  All and all I would do it again if I had the option.  I got to keep my number, plus my contract with T-mobile was monthly so I didn’t have to pay any cancellation fees, they actually sent me a prepaid debit card with $0.06 on it. Uh, thanks? If your phone is not compatible with Ting you do have the option to purchase one through their website with monthly payments.

Ting, like the major carriers, has an app for tracking your data, minutes and messages. You can even set limits to tell you when you’ve reached a specific threshold or turn off service for data, messages or minutes.  Ting makes it easy to be complete control of your mobile plan.

Moving Forward with Intention

In order to get the most of out of my new mobile provider, I decided to fine-tune the Internet settings on my phone. My company does not provide WiFi for their employees to use on non-company phones. Which is fine, because I really shouldn’t be on social media at work anyway.

I changed the settings on all of my social media, podcast, and music apps to only connect when there was WiFi.  I also turned off the background app refresh.  If I am going to open an app I can wait 6 seconds for it load the latest information. I started looking at my data as a resource because now, I have the power to pay for only what I use, instead of overpaying for more than I needed.

I am not missing out on anything with this intentional use of data. I still download podcasts and music to listen to when WiFi isn’t available. It did make me realize that I use my phone for social media A LOT, because I would open the app and it wouldn’t load if I was at work.  While social media is a part of life there are a lot of other things I could be doing (like writing this blog post.)

Final Thoughts

I haven’t noticed any service gaps or issues at all with Ting.  I am more cognizant of my internet usage, but again that is because I now have the potential to save.  Last month I used a lot of data, I streamed more than one podcast (on purpose), used Uber and google maps but my bill was only $42. The bill break down:

  • $6 – 1 device
  • $3 – small message package
  • $3- small minute package
  • $30 – XXL data package

It has been three months since the switch and I do not see myself going back.  Switching to Ting made me realize that there are a lot of other options out there.  Sometimes it takes extra time to research and verify a new service, but it can be well worth it.  You either learned about something new you are willing to try or you decided that sticking with what you have is the best option.

Do you know how much data you use and if your unlimited plan is really worth it? You may be surprised to find out there are reliable options out there besides the major carriers!

Thanks for stopping by!

-C

 

 

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