Mobile Phones: What Every Budget Conscious Person Needs to Know

IMG_4829Like most Americans, I find myself tethered to my phone 24/7. It is without a doubt the most important tech tool I possess. So as you can probably imagine, I’ve always  been very careful to prevent any sort of lapse in payment.

Well, an unfortunate scenario occurred three months ago, or so I thought. My mobile service was disconnected because I was no longer able to come up with the $190 monthly payment. The good news is that I eventually paid the bill and had it restored.

Here’s what I discovered as a result of this experience. I was being charged for way more mobile data than I could possibly ever need. So I made a visit to my phone carrier retail store and reduced my data package to one gigabyte. The savings:  $90 per month.

My new monthly bill was therefore reduced to $100 plus tax and fees. Sounds more reasonable, huh? Well, not really when you consider the fact that I found myself now paying for what amounted to a phone number and 1GB of data. So I am now pondering the unthinkable: cancelling both my cell number and data plan.

Why would I do such a crazy thing when one could argue that 1GB of data is woefully inefficient? The simple answer – I have little need for a pricey data plan given the abundance of low or no-cost Wi-Fi available at public locations or via a mobile hotspot.

So in a grand experiment, I have been communicating exclusively for the past month without a carrier-based mobile number or data plan. And here are the results……..

Texting? Not a problem.        Phone calls? Easy Peasy.          Web Browsing? Faster and more reliable

 Mobile Solutions To Save You Money

Intrigued to learn more about budget-conscious options for reducing your mobile bill to $50 or less? Well here is the secret recipe.

Phone Calls: There are tons of options where you can effortlessly make phone calls over Wi-Fi. The best known option is Google Voice which is now seamlessly integrated with Google Hangout, a comprehensive voice, video and messaging platform. If you have a Google login and password, you can sign up for a free phone number and call option using the GH app.

Another great option is an app called TalkU which is essentially an inexpensive pay-as-you-go service. I have been using it for a few months now and find the calls to be even clearer than calls using my mobile plan. And then there is what is called the Burner app. Here you can sign up for as many phone numbers as you need at a very low cost. The beauty here is that this service allows you to ‘burn’ a particular phone number whenever you want, like when a creepy first date wants to stay in contact and replace it with a new one. 

Messaging: Options in this field  are expanding by the day. In fact, you are probably using one or more of these Wi-Fi options, the most recognizable being Facebook Messenger. Then there are two free apps, WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) and WeChat, that are rapidly cornering the text message marketplace. The latter is an excellent option for free international calls and messaging. Finally, there are apps like Telegram which are rapidly finding traction in terms of facilitating private, encrypted group messaging.

Wi-Fi Hotspot: At this point, you may be thinking “Fine. But what if I am somewhere where a public Wi-Fi connection is unavailable?” Well, there is some good news here. Did you know that you can literally carry a portable Wi-Fi hotspot in your pocket or bag? There are tons of options available for this. One in particular that is rapidly growing in popularity is GoKarma. It’s $50 a month for unlimited coverage with no contracts. In other words, you can easily turn your coverage off for a month or cancel it altogether if you don’t need it.

The good news is that if you play your cards rights by using these Wi-Fi exclusive options with your current phone, you can reduce your costs to $50 per month or less! And all with no discernible loss in quality. In the end, I predict that this will become the new normal for connecting with others as opposed mobile phone coverage plans that suck money out of our bank accounts.

Michael Scott is a Denver-based journalist examining disruptive themes fueling the new digital economy. More of his work can be found on his About.Me profile