After managing to avoid a work phone (and being on call) for almost 10 years, my husband finally had to get a work-provided cell phone. We’ve got mixed feelings about it.
On the plus side, my husband has lately been forgetting to turn his phone’s WiFi on, so he’s been eating up data like crazy. So now he’s just using his work data, and not the data on our family cell phone plan. Another perk is that they buy him a phone – so he got a new phone and I inherited his month-old phone. New phones for everyone!
The downside, though, is that now he has to be on call. And that his work can call him any time. Boooo….
In any case, though, let’s talk about how you can save some serious cash on a cell phone and data plan.
How we’ve saved more than $3000 on our Cell Phone & Data Plans
We found Ting back in 2013. We’d been with one of the more budget-friendly big-name carriers and did some math. We quickly realized that, even paying the fees to break our contract early, we’d save money switching. So we made the switch, paid the penalties, and never looked back. All in all, Ting has since then saved us anywhere from $500-1600 per year. Over 4 years, that’s easily more than $3,000. That’s even with buying our own phones outright – and we buy some new, some used, depending on the make, model, year, and our needs.
So what’s our monthly bill look like? Well, when it was the two of us on our plan, we averaged $45 per month for our cell phone and data plans. Our house phone, through Ooma, added another $5 per month to that, for a total of about $50/month. Alone, my new bill will probably be half of that, including our Ooma house phone.
Now, I should mention that the reason we can use Ting and Ooma is that we also pay for internet at our house. Without that, it may not be such a good deal. But when you marry a computer guy who’s also a programmer, suddenly you find that the internet bill is considered a part of the necessities and lumped in with the utilities.
But if you are like us…
- you’re not a 2,482,459 text per minute kind of person
- you prefer to use WiFi whenever possible for your internet or Facebook fix
- you can keep track of what you’ve used (or just check the Ting app on a regular basis) or show some small amount of self-control
… then Ting might be a good fit for you, too. And if you’re on the fence, they’ve got some great tools on their website to help you decide what your best course of action is.
Other perks to a lesser-known cell provider
One reason Ting can stay so cheap is that it isn’t in that fight to provide “unlimited” stuff. So if you need “unlimited”, don’t look to Ting. Another reason they can keep prices low is that they aren’t trying to build phone prices into their data costs. In other words, no phone discounts (but also no contracts). They do have a good selection of devices, though. And they have a “bring your own device” option, too.
Getting back to the plans, though…
What they do, is to instead charge you based on what you actually use. And they do it by automated tiers. So if one month you need more data, you get bumped up to the next tier and pay the extra $5 or $10 that month. If you don’t do a ton of talking, your account bumps you down to the right tier and you get charged accordingly. For example… use 0 minutes? Pay $0.
And the best part? Minutes, texts, and data are all separate. So if you only use minutes, you aren’t paying for unnecessary texts or data.
Need more than one phone? Great. Each line has a $6/month access fee. If your kids have a line and they get it confiscated for a month, you’re not going to pay for any unused anything.
Speaking of giving kids phones, I know that’s a hot topic. And, just recently, I’ve discovered one other reason to love Ting.
Kid-friendly phones. Ting has a variety of options – from old-school flip phones to kid-proof tablets and more. They can each make and receive calls and have GPS. My oldest boy has started carpooling to soccer practices, and it’s triggered both of our anxiety about him being stuck somewhere alone. I mean, he’s six.
So we just ordered him one of those watches, and he’s super excited that he’ll have a way to contact me if he needs it.
2019 Update: that watch company totally went bust in 2018. The watch was awesome while it worked, though.
Other providers have similar devices. But Ting is the only provider that doesn’t require an existing account to snag one of these. Only need one of these for a kid? Or an elderly parent? Great. Set them up on their own account. And, it’s all online and easy to use.
Anxiety calmed, y’all. Big sigh of relief, from both me and my son.
Want more info or to sign up with Ting? Great. I’d love it if you used my referral link. That way, we each get a $25 credit!
June 2019 Update
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While Ting was awesome, we just found Mint Mobile – and made the switch! $15/month for unlimited talk, text, and 3 GB of 4G data saves us even MORE money. Shopping around pays, y’all.