How We Spent Money To Save Money

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “you have to spend money to make money“, but have you ever heard of spending money to save money? I’m always excited to share ways to save money, and quite frankly, I’m SICK of being ripped off by cell phone companies. So we decided to actually do something about it instead of just complaining.

Stupid Cell Phones

I started long ago with Sprint, which at the time had the worst customer service ever. This was a long time ago and I just couldn’t find a plan that worked for me as much as it worked for Sprint. When I met my wife, she had Suncom which offered the “unplan” that gave her unlimited minutes and text for $50 a month. They had me at unlimited.

Then Suncom was bought out by Cingular, which enabled us to continue our unlimited plan for an additional two years if we signed the 2-year contract. After the two year contract was up we were back to the same old crap that cell phone companies have been offering all along. 

Get the best out of not being on a contract with T-Mobile cell phones prepaid is the best way to go if your looking to avoid monthly fees.

Sharing 400 or 700 minutes a month was hard and usually we went over

Anyone that has EVER gone over on their minutes knows that it sucks!

Then 1400 minutes was way too much so we were wasting money.

They never ever seem to have anything in the middle, only one extreme or the other. Then if you want internet you have to either pay a fortune or add the internet which in my opinion is also extremely overpriced. To have cable internet at my house it costs me $64 a month, and to have very sub-par internet on my phone costs me $40. I’m sure I would probably be a little more pleased with the internet if I bought an iPhone, but I am not willing to pay more for my cell phone than I am my home computer. I have been VERY VERY close though. ;)

We have been paying $170 a month for two phones, internet included for way too long. It’s too much! It’s a rip off!

What Did We Do?

We heard about a new no-contract deal with Straight Talk that will cost us $45 a month per phone that includes unlimited minutes, unlimited text, and unlimited internet.

So you’re telling me I can pay $90 a month (for two phones) with no annoying contracts, and get unlimited everything? Where do I sign up?

Bye bye AT&T, hello Straight Talk!

If you are interested, do your own research to determine if it is right for you.

Now this does mean that we have to PAY to get out of our AT&T contract which has 13 months left. (or do we?) Here’s the cost breakdown.

13 months at $170 = $2,210 Cost to keep AT&T

13 months at $90 = $1,170 Cost to switch to Straight Talk

Minus the cost of the phones – $249 ($100 + $129 + $20 tax)

Savings = $791

**Minus early termination of contract = $250 ($125 per phone)

TOTAL SAVINGS = $541

**We heard about phone swapping which has been around for a few years but has been used very little. The concept is that you can have someone else take over your contract and it will save them from having to pay start-up fees and save you the early termination fees. Cellswapper Celltradeusa Resellular

List of possible drawbacks, so be careful if giving this option a try:

  • There are a lot of outlandish sales to be found like $4/month plans and $5000/month plans.
  • Typical internet field of potentially sketchy anonymous buyers.
  • Not usually an instant process, can take up to 7 days, and buyer must pass a credit check.
  • Cost of plans do not generally differ widely from carriers’ rates

It would be real nice to actually save $791 from doing this, but we are not counting on it working out. If it does work great, but if it doesn’t, we will still be saving $541 by making this switch.

It’s worth noting that we plan to sell our Blackberry Pearl’s which are in excellent condition. We do not know what we will get for each of them though.

If Your Wireless Provider Tries To Pull A Fast  One

Put the calm and collective spouse on the phone to negotiate. AT&T apparently has a “policy” that says if you cancel your contract early you must also be charged for the full month. We are two days into the next billing cycle and the last person we talked to from AT&T about this failed to inform us of that small detail.

First of all, I hate policies that are put in place to rip people off or squeeze their wallet dry one last time. We already embraced the fact that we would have to pay the early termination fee but to pay another $170 on top of that for only two days of use is ridiculous. They were essentially saying that we owed them for an entire month that we would not be using.

Call me old-fashioned but I just feel as though I, or any other customer, should only have to pay for services that we receive. Granted the early termination fee is not a service but it is a cost for breaking the contract. I am okay with that. I am not okay with a company having a policy that says they should get paid for a service that was never even used.

Most people would just pay the month and be done! NOT US!!

Thank the Lord for my beautiful, calm, and collective wife. She very pleasantly asked to speak to someone in charge once learning of this ridiculous “policy”. I was not so calm, so she asked me to leave the room. I did as I was asked. :D

What Did My Wife Negotiate?

To put it simply, my wife is my hero! Not only did she somehow get them to give us a credit for the $170 they were trying to charge us for the month of May, but somehow, she managed to work it out so that we could still try the swap deal in order to save us the early termination fees too. :D We have a month to swap our contract before we have to pay the early termination fees.

Let me say that again: We are not paying for the month of May, nor are we paying the early-out fee UNLESS we can’t find someone to take over the rest of our contract.

What If We Invested The Savings From Just This Transaction?

Now some of you may be wondering if it was really worth it to go through all this trouble to switch. Well, we saved $541 over 13 months—worst case scenario, so I have to say it was. If you want to break it down even further though let’s see what would happen if we invested the $80 a month we are now saving each month.

For the sake of this example let’s just assume that we would have a cell phone for 30 more years. It’s not a ridiculous assumption eh? I’m sure prices will change though. It’s still motivational!

Here’s what Bankrate.com‘s calculator estimated we would have after 30 years of investing $80 per month earning 6.5% interest with a $1 starting balance. It’s not uncommon to get a better rate of return on some investments even with today’s market. Also, investing should be seen as long term, so what you get today might not be what you get “on average” over a period of say 30 years.

Year/Balance

  1. $961.06
  2. $1,983.53
  3. $3,072.46
  4. $4,232.17
  5. $5,467.27
  6. $6,782.64
  7. $8,183.51
  8. $9,675.44
  9. $11,264.34
  10. $12,956.52
  11. $14,758.70
  12. $16,678.01
  13. $18,722.08
  14. $20,899.02
  15. $23,217.45
  16. $25,686.59
  17. $28,316.22
  18. $31,116.77
  19. $34,099.36
  20. $37,275.82
  21. $40,658.75
  22. $44,261.57
  23. $48,098.57
  24. $52,184.98
  25. $56,537.00
  26. $61,171.90
  27. $66,108.08
  28. $71,365.10
  29. $76,963.83
  30. $82,926.48

Final Savings Balance: $82,926.48

**According to CNN Money – “from 1926 to 2010, the S&P 500 returned an average annual 9.8% gain”

Have you considered the opportunity cost of excessive expenses that could be reduced?? Perhaps you should. How much can you have come retirement?? How much money are you wasting every single month??

About Brad Chaffee

10 Responses to “How We Spent Money To Save Money”

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  1. Forestr says:

    My best way to save on cell phones is to not really use one! I have an old phone and a pay as you go chip that rarely gets used. Free Wifi is everywhere so if I really need to contact I can jump on Skype pretty easily if needs be (I normally carry my computer)…. Your wife is a hero!!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      That is very true Forest! I’m not sure I could live without my cell phone completely. haha! We didn’t have a land line until here recently and that was only because I got sent a free gadget that allows me to have a land line via my computer. That was basically free since I have a blog…LOL, but it sure will be nice to have a cell phone bill under $100 again. I am really excited!

  2. Young Mogul says:

    Wow….you are TRULY a PF blogger, because that was an extremely indepth analysis of a change of cell phone contract.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      LOL Young Mogul! Yeah I have lots of friends that have the cell phone plan maxed, and the price always seems to be something they complain about. Understandably so, but I thought I would challenge my readers to really think about what they are spending on cell coverage and the opportunity cost of the extra expense. I hope it helps others a little bit at least. :)

  3. Donna says:

    I was able to bundle our service (home phone and internet) to save $40 per month plus faster speed and unlimited long distance! Things I did not have before. Now I have better reception, less dropped calls, easy downloads and saving $480 dollars a year. Just a few phone calls to save this money. The savings are out there, you just have to spend the time. Turn off the tv and do some investigation people!

  4. Kaye says:

    We’ve considered doing something similar with Boost Mobile. Great post!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Yeah boost is only $5 more and I think it uses the Sprint network right? We liked that one but didn’t know anyone with it so we went with Straight Talk. It’s great to save money, you should do it Kaye!

      I do hope that one day the iPhone or the Droid will be available for the no contract plans. ;)

  5. Jeff Kosola says:

    If you went for the “Miami Vice” style old school brick phone you could save even more on the phone. I just don’t think they had the internet back then, Al Gore hadn’t invented it yet. :-)

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      DUDE that is a hilarious flashback man! I remember those phones. It was like having a pay phone size unit in between the two seats and it took two people to lift the phone up to the ear. LOL Super hilarious Al Gore comment bro! :D He was slacking off!

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