Since deciding to live in more frugal ways in order to maximize my investments and savings, I’ve become very creative in cutting expenses. Most of my expenses are fairly “fixed” and can’t really be changed at the moment. These types of expenses would include rent, my car payment and student loan repayments. I can’t reduce my rent until my lease has expired and I can’t change my car payment amount. Well, I take that back; I probably could change my car payment amount by refinancing and lengthening the time frame for the loan and therefore pay more interest. But that would really be counterproductive.
One of the expenses I’ve become pretty creative about is my cell phone bill. It wasn’t that long ago that people lived just fine without cell phones. However, these days you can’t pry a cell phone out of someone’s clutches. They have really become an integral part of most people’s lives and it has transformed the landscape of technology and blurred the lines between wants and needs. I understand the excitement behind owning a cell phone. Being able to contact your friends and family at a whim is very comforting and certainly having one in the car in case of an emergency is almost necessary. I’m not that old, but I do remember being in high school with no cell phones around. I do remember a time when a cell phone wasn’t an expense or a necessity. I asked myself if I was really all that unhappy or underprivileged back in those days. I came up with the answer that I wasn’t.
Let me state that I don’t have a home phone. Besides my handy iPhone, I have no other way to contact people. Having that cell phone is extremely important to me, being able to contact family and friends back home in Michigan. However, I really became irritated with paying that $80/month bill to AT&T for my basic iPhone plan.
At a 3% entry yield it would take $32,000 in equities to pay that $80 bill every month!
Would I rather have $32,000 in equities, or a cell phone? I chose the former. So, what can I do? I require a method to contact family back home when I’m at work, home, or on the go. I don’t have a home phone. My parents are a little beyond chatting on Facebook. I definitely do not want to rely on occasional emails.
I solved my problem by downloading an application on my iPhone that allows me to use a VOIP service to make and receive phone calls. I can make and receive phone calls anywhere there is a wifi signal. This includes all my time at work and home. This also includes many of the locations here around my city. Wifi is extremely widespread these days and I actually find difficulty NOT locating free Wifi. The only downside to this option is that I don’t have coverage when I’m physically driving in my car. If I had a lengthy drive to and from work this option probably wouldn’t work as I would require a cell phone for emergencies. However, this could easily be solved by keeping a cheap prepaid phone in the car and using it STRICTLY for emergencies. You could then use the VOIP service for all your other phone calls. I use a service that gives me a local phone number, unlimited minutes and voicemail. Anytime wifi is in range it will ring with incoming calls just like my AT&T service used to. I currently pay $9.99 per month. By making this switch I have saved a llittle over $70 per month. I’m very happy with that.
This method won’t work for everyone. I’m not suggesting that you cancel your cell phone. However, thinking outside the box can sometimes yield incredible results. For me, this works. I have a 7 mile commute to work and I have wifi access at home, work and most places in between. I believe the money I’m saving every month with my VOIP service will directly lead to increased savings and an earlier retirement.
Thanks for reading.