The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
This is an update to a Plus Edition article I wrote in June. This article has nothing to do with genealogy. However, one of my personal interests has always been saving money. Last year I found a cell phone bargain that was almost too good to be true, so I decided to try it. I wrote about my experiences at the time.
The company that supplied the cell phone later changed their offerings a couple of times. Now I have switched to a new service from the same company at roughly one-fourth the price of what I was paying earlier. I also found it to be a great tool for placing free calls back home when traveling internationally, instead of paying the normal, outrageous international roaming charges often associated with using cell phones when traveling in foreign countries.
I am used to paying $60 a month or more, sometimes much more, for cell phone service. Several lower-cost services have appeared in recent years and have become popular. However, one service appeals to me and I have now been using it for more than a year. To use the service, you first have to purchase an Android cell phone from the company. Three models are available with purchase prices of $99, $149, or $299. You then select from the level of cell phone service you want at monthly prices of $5, $10, $25, or $40 per month. I normally pay $10 per month but have occasionally upgraded to $25, then downgraded again a few days later when I no longer had a need for the higher-priced service.
The cell phone uses Sprint’s nationwide network and has worked everywhere I have tried it within the U.S. The same phones also can place calls over a wi-fi network from anywhere in the world. Most other “smartphones” can place calls over wi-fi although that capability normally is not included when you purchase the phone. With most other cell phones, you typically have to go to the Android Play Store or to the iPhone App Store to download and install a third-party app to add wi-fi calling to the phone. In contrast, my new cell phone already included wi-fi calling when I purchased it.
Best of all, with this cell phone company, you can change your level of service at any time (up to twice a month) and you also may cancel the service at any time. There are no multi-year contracts involved and no early cancelation penalties.
The $10 per month service has met my needs perfectly when at home or when traveling around my home town area. However, when traveling longer distances, I usually upgrade to the $25 a month service, then downgrade a few days later when I return home. Since this company does not have contracts, I can upgrade, downgrade, or even cancel the service at any time with no penalty involved.
To be sure, these bargain prices do have some restrictions; but, I found those restrictions to be so minor that I can safely ignore them, and I suspect that many others can do the same. If I wish, I can upgrade my service at any time to include additional features, although at higher prices. Even the highest-priced service at $40 a month is still cheaper than that of most other cell phone services.
Even better, I no longer own a standard, old-fashioned telephone. I can now use my new cell phone for all my calls, both at home and when outside the home, for a TOTAL of $10 a month for all telephone conversations. Compare that to your monthly telephone bill. Do you have a wired phone in the house plus a cell phone? If so, what is the total amount you pay for both phones? Or for three phones if your spouse also has a cell phone?
At these prices, you probably can also give another phone to a teenager in the house. His or her cell phone could cost a maximum of $10 a month although with a few restrictions. Actually, considering the amount of money to be spent, I do not mind the minor restrictions.
I am using an Android “smartphone” that not only places and receives telephone calls but also surfs the web with a built-in web browser, sends and receives text messages, reads and writes email messages, takes pictures, plays music, plays videos, reads and updates my calendar, maintains a large phone book, displays maps, provides directions, plays games, and much, much more. In short, it is a normal Android cell phone.
I have now cut my cell phone monthly expenses from nearly $100 a month that I paid more than a year ago to $10 a month, Admittedly, I occasionally upgrade to $25 per month for a few days or weeks, then downgrade again when I no longer need the more expensive service. I also found that the phone and the service work well. The people I call never know that I am a cheapskate… uh, “thrifty.” In fact, a few people I have talked with have remarked how clear the connection is. I have only received those comments when connected via a wi-fi connection, not when connected via the cell phone network.
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