0 In Financial Fitness

Budget Basics 101 // Cell Phones

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Can you hear me now? Good. Because our cell phone situation is one you want to pay close attention to especially if you are looking to add over $1000 a year back into your budget.

Prior to being married, I remember spending time researching which cell phone company would be the best for us financially. I knew I wanted the iPhone despite past reservations and at the time, the only carriers offering it required a two year contract. We were stuck deciding between Verizon and Sprint and ultimately chose Sprint because our monthly bill would be lower. Since my husband and I had chosen free phones, he the Galaxy and myself the iPhone, I thought it would be best to save a few dollars and forego purchasing protective cases. We were on a tight budget at the time and since I hadn’t previously dropped any of my smartphones I figured we were good to go. Not even two weeks later, my husband, who was working in construction, came home and let me know that he had accidentally dropped his phone on the job and while it still made sounds, the screen was completely black. Reluctantly, we called Sprint requesting a replacement phone and forked over $150 for a phone that was initially free. It was painful knowing that we could have spent $25-$40 for a good case and prevented the unnecessary expense but hindsight, after all, is 20/20.

After my phone surviving halfway through our contract term, I was a new mom with a tired brain and completely forgot that I left my phone in an open pocket on our baby carrier. I pulled the carrier out of our car and my phone fell, screen down, on the asphalt. My heart sank a little as I realized some of the glass screen had completely shattered off of the phone and there was a huge crack down the middle. The phone still worked – mostly. At that point, with a new baby, we really couldn’t afford an additional $150 for a replacement phone or even the $100 to get the screen fixed. Over time, my phone started experiencing a variety of problems due to being dropped and has pretty much stopped working altogether.

Final Score: Phones 2, DuPrez’s 0.

After all the phone drama, I decided enough was way more than enough and began to look for ways we could have the phones we wanted without spending $150/month which is what our Sprint contract was costing us. My husband ended up hating his Samsung Galaxy and wished he has chosen the iPhone instead. I am now an iPhone aficionado too and hope never to switch to something else. I knew if we were to both have iPhones, I was going to have to find a plan that would work better with our budget and stretch our hard earned dollars a little further.

We considered ending our Sprint contract early but decided not to since we didn’t have all the money up front to purchase new phones, pay for a new plan and pay the Sprint cancellation fee of $200. This was painful but it also gave me time to research our options. For the longest time we debated between Straight Talk which offers unlimited everything for $45/month or Virgin Mobile which offers the same for $35/month. Our hope was that since everything was unlimited we could save even more money by not having to pay for internet service. We initially decided we would go with Virgin Mobile because of the cheaper cost over time but since the only available iPhones in stock were near $400 each, which made us hesitant to make the move. We had been waiting to receive our tax return to purchase our new phones but still weren’t comfortable with paying so much for a device that isn’t necessary for our survival and has a life expectancy of roughly two years.

While listening to Pandora recently, I heard a commercial for Boost Mobile and decided I would check them out just to see what they could offer. It turns out they had refurbished iPhone 6’s in stock for $199.99 each and they offer and unlimited everything plan for $30/month. I was instantly sold. Before purchasing however, I decided to Google “Boost Mobile Coupon Code” and found a coupon code on RetailMeNot for 50% off any phone purchase under $399.99. HECK. YES. This was the perfect fit for us.

To boost our budget a little more, we will be purchasing our minutes via the Walmart link on Swagbucks which will send our code for our minutes right to our email – no need to drive to the store when we run out AND will give us 7% cash back. Since the overall cost was much lower than anticipated, we were able to use money from our regular income to get new phones – FINALLY! We’re also a little wiser this time around and invested in this case.

We spent a bit of time researching and discussing what would be the wisest phone choice for our family and are so blessed to have found this option through Boost Mobile, which, it turns out, is backed by Sprint. We’ll be getting the same quality of service for a fraction of the cost! No more contracts and silly fees for us.

PS – My friend Brandee who uses T-Mobile knew about our move to Boost and was inspired to find a way to cut her bill. She called them and was able to get the to lower her bill by $40/month!

What steps will you take to trim your cell phone bill?

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