We Got Smart Phones: $269 down and $40/month (or less)

There are many great blog posts about how to save money on your smart phone bill by switching from a name-brand provider like Verizon to an upstart like Ting or Republic Wireless. One of my favorites is this excellent series from the folks at Planting Our Pennies.

But… what if you never had a smart phone to begin with? Can you still justify getting one? We decided we could. We have no more debt and money is starting to accumulate in the bank. Plus, since we cancelled our basic Verizon plans back in February and switched to Airvoice, we’ve already saved about $320 (even after paying the cancellation fee). A little research revealed that we could both have smart phones for waaaaay less than that dumb-phone Verizon plan.

We considered two main options, Republic Wireless and Ting.* We decided on Ting because, even if our current text and voice usage doubles and we add moderate data use, we will still save money over Republic (Republic offers great prices on unlimited plans, ideal for heavy users). Our Airvoice plans cost $10 each for 250 minutes, 500 texts, or some combination thereof. Mr. FP came close to his limit once or twice; I had over $40 left in my plan (it rolls over from month to month). So we are light users–and I don’t WANT to be a heavy user. If I get bored at the playground, I’d rather read a book than be tempted to update my Facebook status.

Looking for used phones was a no-brainer for us, especially since we had heard such good things about Glyde, a marketplace for buying and selling used cell phones and a particular godsend for anyone who wants to change carriers. Somewhat arbitrarily, we decided to shop for more or less mid-market options, phones that were pretty good a year or two ago, but not top of the market. We decided on Android phones as we are heavy Google users and they seemed a better deal than iPhones. (An iPhone 4 or 4s would have been in our $100-150 price range, for instance, but unlike other phones in that range, it does not have LTE coverage.) Mr. FP, our cell phone guru, chose last year’s Moto X ($157 shipped). I was going to get the same thing, but as soon as he ordered his, Glyde was sold out! Back to the drawing board. What I wound up doing was looking on Glyde for every Sprint smart phone, then ordering the cheapest available option that was in excellent condition and was LTE-capable. That turned out to be the HTC EVO LTE for $112 shipped, so I ordered it.

Our experience with Glyde was quite smooth, if not expeditious. Both our phones were in the excellent condition we ordered. There was some sort of delay with shipping mine, but I still received it in about two weeks. Porting our numbers to Ting also went smoothly, at least on Ting’s end. I had to call Airvoice to get them to release my number.

Ting charges you based on your level of consumption, and you can move freely between levels. If one month you don’t use any data, you don’t pay for data. We are estimating that we’ll wind up paying $30-$40 a month for the two of us; about twice what we’ve been paying with Airforce, but still less than half of what we were paying for basic phones with Verizon. The less we use, the less we’ll pay, and if our usage starts to creep up, we can use our Google Voice numbers over WiFi to keep it down. You can use this nifty calculator to see how much Ting can save you.

I realize that we didn’t need smart phones, but we were really starting to notice times when they would make our lives easier: Wanting to comparison shop while standing in a store, for instance, or wanting to look up a phone number while riding in the car. Now we can do those things. Frugality doesn’t have to mean denying yourself some of the fun gadgets you see other people playing with. It DOES mean not blindly shelling out for that three-figure plan and not going for the iPhone 6 or Galaxy V as soon as they come out.

Do you have a smart phone? How are you keeping the cost down?

*This is a referral link. If you use it to sign up, we get a credit to our account and you also get a $25 credit in yours! The MMM forums have a great referral thread, but if you are not a member, please considering clicking here to join Ting.

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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

6 responses to “We Got Smart Phones: $269 down and $40/month (or less)”

  1. Tarynkay says :

    I have the Moto G smartphone with service from Republic Wireless. My plan is $10/month. This is unlimited talking and texting everywhere and unlimited data just on wifi. I found that I really do not need data when I am out and about, so this is a great plan for me. I did have to pay for the phone, but the plan is $25 cheaper than my limited talk/text plan with virgin mobile.

    This is my first smartphone. I love it bc 1) texting is so much easier on this phone than on my old flip phone and 2) it has a camera, which my old phone did not. This is great bc I never remember to bring a camera anyplace. I take a lot of photos of my small son, so the grandparents enjoy that. I am also able to take photos of the little boy I watch and text them to his parents during the day, which they love.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Wow, that’s a good deal! We really did want to have the option for mobile data, but if it’s not important to you, why bother?

      I do keep a camera in the diaper bag, but I might ditch it now that I have the smart phone. I’ll have to see how well the phone camera works–I do like to make prints sometimes.

  2. Moonwaves says :

    I just got my first smartphone a few weeks ago. I had to get a new SIM card last year (for some reason my old one expired, I think the company went out of business/were taken over and they just cancelled everyone’s cards with a few months’ warning). Anyway, since I knew my phone wasn’t going to last much longer, I deliberately tried to choose a plan that would easily allow me to add data. I managed to get nearly a year and a half out of the old phone after that which wasn’t bad really. I ended up getting a Samsung III Mini and it cost me €149. I have to admit that one of my main reasons for choosing it was that the woman I share an office with got one a few months ago so I knew that if I had difficulties figuring it out, she’d probably already know how to do whatever I wanted. 🙂 Well, why make life more difficult than it has to be? But it’s a decent phone, too and not too big either, which I like. I have a pay-as-you-go SIM card and was able to just switch my tariff to a flat-rate data plan, so it costs me €9.95 per month and that gets me 500MB high-speed. After that it slows down but to be perfectly honest, I haven’t noticed much difference. Although for some reason my credit has gone down quite a bit (I rarely use the phone for phone calls and don’t text that much either) so I need to contact them to figure out why. I had to install an update for something and it did warn that it might cost but it’s all a bit of a mystery to me still. But I do enjoy the rain radar app (just downloaded the free one) and it is handy to have googlemaps always on hand, I have to admit. And the camera is at least as good if not slightly better than my ordinary camera. And I love the memo app that it came with. Shopping list and reminders right there as soon as I look at my phone. Perfect.

  3. Mrs. Frugalwoods says :

    Sounds like you found a good solution! Mr. FW and I both have iPhones right now, but only because our jobs pay for them. We certainly won’t want to pay these bills ourselves, so we’ll have to figure out a different approach once we quit our jobs. But, I agree, smartphones are incredibly convenient and handy little gadgets!

    • frugalparagon says :

      Ting is a good iPhone-friendly option, although they have to be Sprint iPhones. Or for a really minimal plan, there’s Airvoice! You can use an iPhone with Airvoice for as little as $10 a month. Lucky you with the free phones!

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