Frugal Friday: Cell Phones

A while back reader John R. asked me to do some posts on things that I have/like. Most of what I have I have because it saves me money. So I’m starting this series as a trial run. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve learned a lot in trying to reduce my expenditures as low as possible to pay off my debt, and I know that there are many others out there who are also paying off debt. Hopefully this series can help you cut costs and live better on less.

For the first Frugal Friday, we will look at two options for cell phone service that you may not have considered. As much as I hate the ubiquity of the computer-phone constantly in everyone’s hand, and the general inability of whole swaths of the population to go more than 3 seconds without checking their phones, cell phones are a necessity for many people today. My job requires me to be on-call any time I am not at work, and I know that I am not alone in that requirement. Plus, I try to call my parents every weekend, so like it or not, I need a phone. I tried a number of different options, but even the mainstream pre-paid services cost about $50 a month, which was too rich for my blood. Now I pay just under $12 a month including taxes, and my service is just as good as when I was with the “big name” carriers. Believe it or not, service is available for even less than that a month. Let’s take a peek at two carriers you may not have considered, but that can save you some serious dough.

1) Republic Wireless

This is the service that I have. The unique thing about Republic is that when you are connected to wi-fi, the phone automatically routes your call via wi-fi rather than cell signal. I wasn’t sure how the quality would be, but it turned out to be excellent. If you walk out of wi-fi range, the call seamlessly transfers to cell. I can’t even tell when it happens. For me, the advantage of Republic is that when I am out of the country, I can still make and receive calls on my phone as long as I am connected to wi-fi. I also like the option for unlimited talk and text without paying for mobile data. To me, a phone is for talking on, and if I need to use the internet on it, I can go to a coffeshop or somewhere and connect it to wi-fi. Plans are listed in graphic below, and more info is available on their website.

2) Freedompop Wireless

I have not used Freedompop’s wireless service, but I do use this company for my internet, which is through a combined cellphone reciever/wireless router. The internet service is good, and I have had no complaints with the company. If you’re leery of having some of your calls routed over wi-fi, Freedompop may be right for you. This is a strictly traditional cellphone service, although of course you can still connect to wi-fi in order to not use mobile data if you need to use the internet or an internet-based app like BibleGateway’s audio-Bible app. What I like best about Freedompop is they offer one year of unlimited talk, unlimited texts, and 500mb data/month for just under $7 a month, or a total of $80. That one year of service is less than what you are going to pay for a month of service on any of the “big name” providers.  Also, if you don’t use your phone much at all, you can get 200 minutes, 500 texts, and 500mb data/month completely free (although you still have to buy the phone). Plans are listed in graphic below, and more info is available on their website.

If you need to lower your cell phone bills, check out these two providers. If you know of another provider that should be mentioned here, let me know. I will expand this post as needed. Also, if you would like anything in particular addressed in an upcoming Frugal Friday, let me know and I will see what I can do.

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