Our Zero Dollar Cell Phone Bill

Buying an iPhone is quite tempting to throw photos, sharing, and my whole life into one device, but I just can’t beat the cost of our current setup no matter how much Chris begs. Oh wait, did I just share that with the world?

For less than $100 a year, or $500 over two years (including buying an iPod Touch), I’ve got everything an iPhone user has – minus the bill.

Extensive Costs
The main reason I don’t buy an iPhone is because of the cost. Not only is there a cost for the device, but the data plans that come along with them, plus contracts, fees, and taxes can add up to over $1,800 for the first year (that’s conservative). The company is making a huge chunk of change on your subsidized phone. T-Mobile is trying something different…

Taxes
Do you hate paying more for services, especially in the form of taxes? It’s amazing what they’ll add in the way of taxes to cell phone bills. Did you know you pay a 911 fee now?

Free or Cheaper Options
With so many options, it pays to shop around. We text and call family and friends for free through Google Voice, use our cell minutes for emergencies when out of wi-fi range, and literally have hundreds of units left over each year. Seriously, I had Santa call my relatives from my Google Voice last year, too!

Our current cell phones cost us $100 a year or less depending on how many units we use. We have been using Tracfone for about 5 years now. Funny, my parents introduced us to it! Since then, we’ve converted a few other people, including Chris’ parents and some friends.

On top of that, we rarely, if ever drop cell phone calls (Tracfone uses multiple carrier’s towers). We have service everywhere we travel (driving to Florida, anyone?) and don’t worry if the phone breaks – which never happens but a new one might be at most $30. And really, who’s going to steal my Tracfone? Oh, and the have triple minute phones. We just upgraded both of our phones this year and have more units than we know what to do with.

Regarding mobile pictures… an iPod Touch’s camera is quite awesome. You probably wouldn’t know the difference from some images I’ve shared if I didn’t mention they were taken with an iPod Touch.

Wi-fi Access Everywhere
If you pay for internet at home, there is little reason to pay for cell service when you have access to wi-fi almost anywhere you go.

We have access to wi-fi ev.ery.where. I also have free wi-fi access at the gym and every family member’s house! We only pay for internet at home, so that allows us savings and tons of hot spots if we need to jump online for a moment. Most restaurants offer it free, too!

Our Final Costs

The cost of my iPod Touch: $399 + tax + case = $500 for probably three+ years of use.
The cost of the iPhone with all the bells and whistles = possibly $2,500 for two years of use.
Savings over $2,000…then, you have to think – there are TWO of us!

So, the cost of two iPhones is $5,000 over two years. Our trafcones cost us $400 over two years + the phones $100 plus an iPod Touch $500 = yeah, this math is looking ridiculous = $4,000 savings over two years – but even a $1,000 savings is so worth it to me.

One simple choice to live outside the box is saving us a large chunk of change in our monthly budget to invest in other quality options. In the end, I don’t have to live without the internet on a mobile device and I can take pictures and share freely just like everyone else 🙂 Aside from being one step behind the iPhone, having the iPod isn’t much different (especially the 5th gen).

Ingenious or nuts?

So, in essence we have a zero dollar cell phone bill. We pay for cell phones, but it isn’t a bill and isn’t a regular charge. It’s a cost that I don’t even figure into our budget for how low it is per year. To me, that’s as close to free as we’ll ever get.

I wrote this post awhile ago, but I never hit publish! It takes some setting up, but it’s worth it. Contact me at kate@katenesi.com if you have any questions on how to set it up for yourself.