Most of us can’t do without a phone. It’s a connected world and having a phone in your pocket everywhere you go is just the way it is these days. Unfortunately, connectivity costs money. If you have a phone that does more than make calls there’s a good chance you’re spending more money on added data plans, text messages, and more. An even bigger money drain is when you have mobile phones and a traditional land line. A lot of people have started making the transition to become a mobile only household, but for a number of reasons a land line may still be important which is going to add to your total cost.
This topic came up because my wife and I just recently updated our phones and the financial implications were two-fold. First of all, we had to buy new phones which was an initial investment. But in the end we were combining our service with one company so it ultimately works out to a savings each month. As you might expect, since my work completely revolves around being online it’s very helpful to have a phone that allows the kind of internet connectivity that can make my life easier. Being able to quickly respond to emails, approve a comment, and share sites on social media. So, that means sticking to a smart phone. I had a BlackBerry before and while it was great, it just felt a little old-fashioned given some of the technology out there today.
So, that led us to the new HTC Incredible. An amazing phone to say the least and it’s leaps and bounds ahead of my BlackBerry. The problem is, they run $199 each. Ouch. That’s a pretty steep investment just to have a fancier phone, but it won’t be as bad as it looks. I can sell both of our BlackBerries on eBay and probably make about $150-$200. So, it should end up like we only had to buy one new phone. But the best part is the monthly savings by combining plans. Before, my wife and I were on different networks so we had two separate plans. It was king of ridiculous and our total bill each month approached $200. By both being on Verizon and getting a family plan we now get even more features and pay about $40 less each month. That is fairly significant as that’s nearly a $500 savings over a year. So, even though we invested in expensive new phones it will pay for itself in just six months and from there the savings will continue to pile on.
How does that stack up against others? I was curious to see what people spend on phone service so I pulled up the most recent spending data on Bundle. It looks like the national average is $108/month with the biggest spenders dropping $235/month.
I played with the data a bit and was looking at what the difference is for married households and they obviously have a higher average, but only at $125. So, given the numbers I guess our phone spending isn’t far from the average. I guess if we had Vonage or another land line we’d probably have to tack on another $30-$50 a month which would put the numbers pretty high.
What do you spend each month for phone service? Do you feel it’s comparable to others? Let’s hear it. Have you ditched your land line? Are you dropping big bucks on an unlimited iPhone plan or do you get by with the bare minimum voice plan?
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Most spend way too much for phone service. It's an expensive habit.
Here: $8/month for Tmobile prepaid, landline + Google Voice for free long distance.
Carriers have good reasons to talk prospects into "a plan".
I have a Straight Talk phone from Walmart. Its great! I get 1000 mins a month, 1000 texts a month and 30MB a month for $30. Minutes do not roll over. It is not a contract phone - but you can sign up for automatic refill. They also have an unlimited plan for $45 a month. This works out great for me. My son has a net10 phone-you buy minutes-$30/300mins-the best per minute deal out there. He earns minutes so this works out well for us. Both are under the TracFone umbrella wich is ultimately under Verizon so they have great coverage.
Since I have an iPhone I don't think I can complain but I will break down my service:
- Family talk plan ( 2 iPhones with data plans)
- Unlimited Text
- International long distance and text.
Let's just say I am paying around $140 and have never used up my rollover minutes with ATT.
I only spend $17.00 a month for two phones. Call me cheap - they're Tracfones and have the basic conveniences. I would like to upgrade to a better texting phone, but don't want to spend the money. My current phone works fine for my needs.
I use a VoIP carrier and pay something like $17/mo + about $5 mo or less in international long distance, so like $22/mo I'd say. No cell phone (yuck).
My bill is around $70 on my Storm 2 with Verizon. I get a nice discount through my company (about 20%). Check out your company benefits plan as many offer these discounts with the popular carriers.
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I pay $30+tax for 500 minutes voice, unlimited text and data through Sprint. It's called the SERO plan. It is no longer available to new subscribers.
With my student discount, I get unlimited web and text with 400 minutes from T-Mobile for under $80 a month. What a great deal!
We have two phones on one plan with shared minutes, unlimited texting, and insurance. DH spends a lot of time on the phone, and he's pretty hard on phones, so it's worth the cost. Our usual plan is about $80/mo I think. Every once in a while he'll have a busy month and bump up to a higher plan for that month.
We had Vonage but $30/mo for something we hardly used seemed silly. So we switched to a prepaid cell phone to use as a household phone; we could keep the same number, and only buy as many minutes as we need, which is hardly any. Since Oct we've spent less than $50 total on that phone. Cheaper than any plan out there - except maybe Skype or Google Voice, which I haven't tried.
My family of 5 spends approximately $120 every month which I guess isn't too bad if you divide $120 by 5 people... Truth be told, we always end up with lots of leftover minutes so maybe downgrading our minutes for our next contract won't be a bad idea...
My phone is provided by my workplace. My fiance is on a family plan that his parents still pay for, so our phone expenses are zero technically. We have no home phone service. About three months ago, we did spring for a Droid to use when we're out and about - I use it for lists for wedding planning, contact information, a little free gaming, and directions. He uses it for directions, movie look up, etc. We only have a data plan on it so we don't use it as a "phone" which keeps our payment down.
My phone/service is actually 100% paid-for through work. I get unlimited minutes, texts, and data, all for about $120 a month, which is great (!) especially compared to the national average. But that doesn't cost me any money.
My wife and her mom are on a family plan with 700 minutes, unlimited texts, and no data for $80/month for both phones. Again, a pretty good deal compared to some other numbers I've seen.
I pay about $48/mo for the most basic voice plan (I think it's 450 mins/mo, free in-network calling) plus the second-tier text plan (500 texts plus free in-network), minus a 15% discount from work. I have a very basic phone, as I'm a bit of a technology fan, and I know as soon as I let myself buy a really fancy phone with a data plan, I won't be able to go back. Over the course of a 2-year contract, I figure that bumping up to a $100/mo plan plus a $250 phone will cost me an extra $1500... quite a large chunk of change!
I pay $125/month for 4 phones with 1500 min., unlimited text, pic mail and data through Sprint. We get a discount for being a state employee.
That's one thing I forgot about. My wife thinks she gets a 14% discount from her employer so we have to call on that. If it's true, that should knock around $20 off a month which would bring us down to $140 or so.
I researched the hell out of this topic and found the best deal with Sprint. $130/mo (-$20/mo for bitching a lot and -15% for employee discount) - this includes 1500 mins/month shared between 2 lines with unlimited text and data (using 2 android based phones)