How I Saved $80 a month on my cellphone bill, and how you can too (Part III)

*Update – Since this blog post I’ve gotten my bill even lower, down to $25 and then $10 and occasionally even $5 per month. Check out how I did it, here.

I’ve shared how I brought my cell phone bill down from $130 to $90 and how I was looking to lower the cost even more. If you haven’t yet, check out Part I when I cut nearly $40 off my bill. Then read Part II when I examined switching carriers to save even more.

Now, I had decided to try a switch to Straight Talk and after a large hiccup I was feeling a bit dejected.

There are two options you have if you’re looking at switching to Straight Talk.

1) You can use the exact same phone you have. You just need to buy a sim card and switch it out. (tried, not recommended, see Part II)
2) You can buy a new phone.

An important point to note, even buying a new phone doesn’t affect your current phone number. You can port your old number over to Straight Talk without any problems.

I didn’t really want a “new” phone, so I examined some of the different options straight talk had. I visited the store portion of the straight talk site and was pretty impressed. They had dozens of different phones available, including half a dozen iphones. All unlocked and without contracts. The price is significantly more than you’d usually pay, ($400 or $500) but when you realize the major mobile companies only give you a “cheaper” phone because they lock you into a two year contract, you understand that the price can be misleading.

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I figured that at worst I could sell my old iphone on ebay or craigslist to recoup some of the expense. So I ordered the same phone I had at the time, an iphone4 for about $400. I selected a quicker shipping option to get it faster and the phone arrived within a few days.

The next process was fairly simple. I backed up all of my data from my old phone to a computer, went through the activation process included in the packaging and on the website and waited. StraightTalk says the “down time” for your phone could be as long as “two business days.” This is the period when your phone is synching with the new system and will not have service. It’s a bit silly saying, “business days.” It’s not like someone is in an office pushing buttons to activate your phone, it should be all automated. But the couple times I tried to explain this to customer service didn’t get my anywhere so I dropped it.

That is something to keep in mind, you’re phone will be down for as long as two days. Certainly not the end of the world, just something to be aware of. My phone was ready in much less time, I believe about six hours. Once it was all set up I called AT&T to confirm that I would no longer be a customer and my account was canceled. AT&T confirmed. I now moved everything from my computer to my iphone and was back to being square. I had the exact same model, an iphone4, with all my music and pictures, and the same phone number I’d had since I was 16.

But there was one big difference.

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My bill was now less than $50. Including unlimited voice minutes, text messages and data package as well as taxes and fees. Less than $50. Compare that to what I was paying just eight months prior of almost $130 each month. Look at my bill compared from December, 2012 to August, 2013.

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Just the first month alone, my savings was $81.16. Wow. Seriously even writing this out gets me pumped up. An $80 savings that I’d incur every single month from now on. Close to $1,000 a year that I’d be able to put towards travel, learning new skills or creating new projects.

And now that I’ve used it for sufficient time, what do I think? There is no difference that I can notice. The service still works just as well, texts are seamless and web and data works fine. There have been concerns raised about Straight Talk “throttling back” their unlimited data for those who go over 2.5GB but

1) I’ve heard that with lots of cell companies
2) I’ve never encountered this. Seriously 99% of people don’t need the massive amounts of data we’re told we do. Since I had originally lowered my bill by realizing I really didn’t need that much data.

In short, I traded an iphone4 with unlimited talk, text and data at $130 a month for an iphone4 with unlimited talk, text and (slightly limited) data at $50 a month.

One of the most common excuses people give for why they can’t travel or take on a new challenge is money. Here is a pretty easy way to save a massive amount on your cell phone bill each year. Chances are good you have a cell phone, and if you do, I bet you could save at least something on it. Go try. Examine your current carrier, examine exactly what you’re paying and think about making a change. What do you think you could do with an extra $1,000 every year?

Saving $80 a month and having to buy a new phone for $400, it seems I’d break even after five months. But not so fast! I skipped over ebay and craigslist and sold my phone to a friend of mine for $200 who was starting his own small business.

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5 Comments

  1. Todd McAdams
    November 5, 2014 / 2:20 pm

    Steven,

    Are you still using Straight Talk? If so, are you still happy with it?

    If I make the switch I wonder if it would just be easier to buy a new iPhone from Apple and have them install the sim card for me at the genius bar. What do you think?

    • Steve Bierfeldt
      November 5, 2014 / 2:28 pm

      Hey Todd, actually I switched from Straight Talk to Republic Wireless. Not because Straight Talk wasn’t giving me the service I needed, it was a good switch. But because once I got my bill down to $50 a month with Straight Talk, I thought of ways to outdo even that. Right now I’m paying $12 a month for a cell phone plan. It’s amazing. Read the post I made here about making the switch to Republic Wireless.

      http://www.livesmartnothard.com/2014/06/23/how-i-got-a-my-cell-phone-bill-down-to-25/

      I never had luck with the Sim cards and just bought a new phone, but you’re spot on. If that’s the way you want to go, definitely run it past them. My mistake was trying to do it myself.

  2. Lili
    November 16, 2014 / 9:02 pm

    I am doing my research on cell phone and wireless service provider and loving your post. Still try to digest all the info and want to double check one fact:so if you order your new iphone directly from StraightTalk,they give you the mini-sim card in the package so that you don’t need to do any cutting to make it fit.Right?

    • Steve Bierfeldt
      November 24, 2014 / 9:23 pm

      Lili, from my experience, no, that is not the case. They do not send you a mini sim card and require you to cut it. But quasi tell you that cutting it will void the agreement/warranty.