Phone and Utilties Archives

Smartphones seem to be vital part of our everyday life, but the costs of having these smartphones is getting out of hand. With most major carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint) , a smartphone, such as an iPhone 4s, can run about $80 or $90 with data per month. Of course there are many discounts offered by these carriers (Such as 15% or 20% off for working for any large company). But even with these discounts, these phone plans can be financially crippling.

I myself was paying $76 a month for my Galaxy S2 (Now Evo 3d) on Sprint with Unlimited Data, Unlimited Mobile to Mobile, and Free Nights and Weekends (after 7pm). For those who do not know, Sprint tends to be viewed as the cheaper carrier versus Verizon and AT&T. Recently I added my girlfriend to my plan with her iPhone 4s and was shocked to hear the cost per phone was still going to be roughly the same, and in fact a little more. I can’t believe they don’t offer any discount for that second phone on a plan. But what about a third phone? Sprint Cost Per iPhone

This is where things get interesting. Adding a 3rd, 4th, and 5th phone is roughly $30 a month more per smartphone. That means you can get five iPhone 4 ‘s (or any other smartphone) for about $240 a month (after 15% discount off the base plan, excluding surcharges and taxes), that’s $48 per phone. This of course would also make you liable for a five smartphone contract, but at $48 per phone, this is a sweet deal. This is most likely the cheapest iPhone family plan out there.

But you don’t have to be a family to do it. In fact you don’t even have to share a relationship. Girlfriends, boyfriends, friends, or just acquaintances are all eligible to join your plan. But once again, remember the contract holder is liable for payment.

The best course of action would be to find people that will either:

  • Prepaid the entire 2-years ($1,152 + $36 activation = $1,188 + any phone insurance premiums), or 
  • Prepay $350 for the early termination fee (ETF), so if they don’t pay they are dropped off the contract on their dime, or
  • Go with someone you trust whole-heartedly (such as family)

Whatever you decide, be careful and get it in writing. Make sure everyone understands what the plan entails. If you do opt into this cheap family sprint plan, you can plan on saving about $22 – $40 a month against other major carriers, which is $528 – $960 per phone over the 2 year contract ($2640 –   $4800 for all 5 phones). On the high end of that savings scale, that’s a cool five grand in 2 years. It can be a lot of hassle, but with numbers like this, it might be worth the hassle. For a complete breakdown of how the Sprint family plans are priced, take a look at the image below (click to enlarge).

Sprint Cheapest Family Plan

Get Rid of Cable and Pick Up Roku

roku or cableTired of paying for cable? Well consider ditching cable for Roku. Roku is a tiny little box that connects to your internet via wifi (or ethernet cable) and connects to you TV via HDMI  and allows you to stream things such as Hulu plus, Netflix, and Pandora. Additionally, if you buy the high end model ($99.99), there is even a USB slot so you can plug your media in directly to it.  Now of course you do have to pay for Hulu Plus ($7.99 a month) and Netflix ($7.99), but you are talking roughly $16 a month.

Roku also has the ability to link up with HBOgo, Facebook, and a host of other channels, but sadly does not appear to have an actual internet browser (my one complaint). I personally only plan on subscribing to Hulu Plus to have access to about 80% of any show I would ever want to watch anyhow. I am currently paying roughly $50 a month, so in a given year I should save $504 minus the cost of the unit plus the salvage value of the unit.

what is on roku

One of the things that stands out about Roku versus the iTv is Huluplus. Sadly even the newest iTV does not have the ability to access Huluplus.  I will keep you updated on my overall experience with Roku.

What is the Cheapest iPhone Plan Available?

Cheapest IphoneSo you want to get an iPhone, but you want the cheapest iPhone plan available? Well let me offer an option.

Get an iPhone on T-Mobile.

First off let me say. Stay away from cricket wireless. Its slow, its crappy, its for the lazy. The customer support is amazing with cricket wireless, until you need to get something actually done.

T-Mobile is the answer if you want to save cash.

We were talking iPhones weren’t we?  Yes of course we were.

First off you need to get an unlocked GSM iPhone (GSM iPhone = old AT&T iPhone). How? eBay, Craigslist, or Amazon.

Pros of eBay, Buyer Protection, and cash back.

Pricing is Roughly:
iPhone 3g – $120
iPhone 3gs – $160
iPhone 4 – $325

I would say 3gs is a decent deal right now. Be sure to get on in EXCELLENT condition iPhone. You want it last and older phones tend to have problems.

Take your iPhone to T-mobile store and throw down for the unlimited $49.99 plan. Unlimited Text, Talk, and Data. This is the cheapest iPhone Plan available.  You will toss in your GSM card in there and follow the instructions that most t-mobile stores have PRINTED OUT and available to customers. iPhones at T-mobile stores are not rare.

But wait, there is more! You have gas perks at your grocery store? Odds are your store carries T-mobile gift cards for $50. You see where I’m going with this, if your store is like mine, that equals a savings of $1.20 – $2.40 a month depending on the tank size (the range above assumes 12 gallon fill up) and the store you use. I’m a bit too lazy to do that, so if I’m going to do it – I would probably do about 4 months at time (Savings of about $4.80 – $9.60 per $200 spend ( 2.4% – 4.8% back). Ta-da! Now you have an iPhone with unlimited data, talk, and text.


Pros of this decision:

  • It’s $49.99 a month vs. approximately $80 – that’s a savings of $30 a month or $360 a year.
  • NO CONTRACT
  • Unlimited Everything.
  • Save some money by not buying AppleCare ($99 once)
  • Save some money by not buying insurance  ($7 to $12 a month, $84 to $144 a year)
  • If the phone is smashed or lost – it might be cheaper to replace via craigslist or eBay. Also if it breaks – Jump on a PLAN for a new IPhone – maybe an IPhone 5 for $199 down the line.
  • Side note to above: Even broken iPhones have *some* salvage value.
  • If you decide you do want the iPhone 4s – it might be $99 by the time you figure it out.
  • If a carrier comes out with an amazing deal (doubtful) you can pounce!
  • Accessories tend to be cheaper for older models

Cons of this decision

  • Dude, you are using an older IPhone – My GAWD!
  • Internet is not as fast (note that the IPhone 4s is NOT 4g though)
  • Device is more likely to have problems especially if not like new condition
  • Not many if any real discounts work on prepaid T-mobile (Such as Military, Corporate, Etc.)

 


Savings Per Year including 2.4% cash back on gas perks.

 

Lets say you go IPhone 3gs – so the cost of the unit is roughly the same


Year One Cost

  COST YEARLY SAVINGS
Monthly Plan $30.01 Cheaper $360.12
Gas Perks $1.40 – $2.80 a month $16.80 – $33.60
Insurance $7 – 12 a month $84.00 –$144.00
Apple Care $99 once $99.00
Total   $559.92 – $636.72

Year Two Cost

  COST YEARLY SAVINGS
Monthly Plan $30.01 Cheaper $360.12
Gas Perks $1.40 – $2.80 a month $16.80 – $33.60
Insurance $7 – 12 a month $84.00 –$144.00
Apple Care N/A 0
Total   $460.92 – $537.72

Conclusion: $1020.84  – $1174.44 Saved.

Lets be conservative and call it roughly $1,000 saved in two years.

Now I realize that the newer phone will probably have about $50 – $100 more of salvage value, but many of you are paying more than $80 a month and more than $7 for insurance – so lets call it roughly $1,000 (after-tax money) in 2 years.

Notes:

  • I’ve met some people who use cell phones as business deduction. If you are going to, good for you. Go for it. Just know this is going to be one of the most audited things you have ever seen in the near future.
  • I understand T-mobile is not the same as a major carrier. This is about sacrifice. If it isn’t worth $1000 over 2 years, don’t do it.
  • The Gas-perks seem so small to most, but wait till your grocery store does a double-perk for gift card promo (if they offer) – Lets say you get $33.60 a year off, that’s $67.20 off in 2 years, that’s 1 of your 24 months free. Plus if you have a bigger tank – might be more like $80 and if you are at a good grocery store – it might be more like $140 – $160 (Giant Eagle is amazing)
  • Life is full of decisions and for many – This decision is easy, Better Phone, Better Service. But for others who feel the constant drag of bills and contracts – maybe taking the road less taken might be a good idea
  • I know this article is written for one phone user, more to come with family’s and couples.

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