Aside from housing, transportation, and food, one of the most common recurring costs for most people is a monthly phone bill. Personally I used to have a plan with Verizon where I would pay around $50 per month for my phone. This was equivalent to paying $600 each year just for a phone for one person. Fortunately for me, I discovered a wonderful phone service called Ting, first recommended by Chris Reining in his blog post here, and most recently by Mr. 1500 Days in his blog post here, so I decided to check out the service myself.
On their homepage, Ting claims the average monthly phone bill per phone through their service is $23 per month:
This was the first thing that caught my eye, considering I was paying more than double this per month. Next, I used their Monthly Rate Estimator tool to see what I could expect to pay each month, based on my usage:
Ting estimates that my monthly phone bill would be $17.00 per month, a whopping $33 less than my Verizon plan.
This is where Ting is different from most major providers. Your monthly phone bill is solely based on your monthly usage. So if you send zero texts in a month, you don’t pay for text messaging. Likewise, if you only access the internet and apps using WiFi, you wouldn’t have to pay for data at all.
This is a “hack” that I think most people should be using to reduce their phone bill – why are we still paying for data when their is free WiFi almost everywhere? Personally I turn my 4G data feature off on my phone and only use it when I absolutely need to and I don’t have access to WiFi:
After seeing my estimated monthly phone bill, I decided to sign up with Ting. The only problem was that my particular Android phone was not supported by Ting. This is the biggest drawback most people will find with Ting – not all phone models are supported. Fortunately for me I was able to bum an old iPhone 5 off a friend, which is a phone supported by Ting. The only upfront cost for me was the SIM card I had to purchase for $9, which I conveniently bought through Ting’s site:
I received the SIM card in the mail in less than a week. Once I had it, the setup process was a breeze. It took about 10 minutes to enter my phone information and the number on the SIM card and I was up and running.
Here’s a look at my most recent monthly bill along with the usage:
Just as Ting predicted with their Monthly Rate Estimator tool, my phone bill turned out to be $17.00 without taxes. Including taxes and fees, it was $18.81. From looking at the bill, it’s pretty clear that I barely used any data outside of my WiFi and I only used 4 minutes talking. If I cut these down to 0 data usage and 0 minutes talking (I rarely use my phone for calls) my bill would be only $12.81 per month.
The only caveat I want to point out is that Ting does not have their own cell towers, but instead they buy airtime from T-Mobile and Sprint. This could possibly lead to poor service in some areas, but I can personally say I have never had any trouble with service at any time.
This was a hassle free transition from Verizon to Ting that will save me roughly $30 per month going forward. That’s $360 per year. For most small expenses I don’t worry about pinching for nickels and dimes simply because it’s not worth the time investment. But switching cellphone providers is a decision that can lead to some real savings, especially for family plans.
Whether you decide to try Ting or another provider like Republic Wireless (another F.I. community favorite), I highly recommend looking for alternatives to traditional phone plans. Saving on phone payments is often one of the easiest ways to cut down on spending, and it can be a hassle-free transition as well.
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