devilc: Jupiter in her wedding tiara with the word "imagine" (Default)
[personal profile] devilc posting in [community profile] actyourwage
I see this so often where I work and amongst my friends -- people who struggle to make ends meet and yet the majority of them have a smartphone (with a dataplan).

A friend of mine who has 2 part time jobs and no health insurance recently had a medical emergency that landed her in the hospital for two days and she's dreading that bill. But, she's got a Samsung Galaxy SIII and a phone bill of over $100/month for it.

If you want to free up some money, ask yourself, is that smartphone a want or a need?

1) Is your phone your sole source of Internet connectivity? (Did you ditch your previous ISP when you got this phone? Or is this the first time you've had your own Internet connectivity?)
2) Do your job's work duties require you to have a smart phone? (And if so, is there a way to get your employer -- if you're not a temp or a freelancer -- to pay for it or subsidize it?)

If you said "no" to either of those, then, sorry, it's a want. There was life before Twitter, Facebook, etc.

It might not be cool, but a pay as you go feature phone with a plan that lets you call and text really is all you need, and many of these can be had for out of pocket cash of under $75, with calling plans of about $15/mo.

If what you really use your smartphone for is entertainment while standing in line or while in transit? Get an iPod Touch or a small tablet and load it up with books, music, videos, and games. It will pay for itself in 4 months, tops.

And the extra $50-75 of cash you can throw at bills or put into your eFund is a very good thing.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-19 08:38 pm (UTC)
zana16: The Beatles with text "All you need is love" (Default)
From: [personal profile] zana16
I like this message, but I've never seen a non-smartphone plan that included texting for less than $40/month. Could you give me some examples? I have not gotten on the smartphone bus and would love to find cheaper options.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-19 09:14 pm (UTC)
foxfirefey: A guy looking ridiculous by doing a fashionable posing with a mouse, slinging the cord over his shoulders. (geek)
From: [personal profile] foxfirefey
Lots of the third party providers can get pretty darn cheap compared to the big ones. I have a smartphone with texting AND some data for around $30-something a month, for instance, on Ting. Don't have a smartphone and only use it lightly and you can get down to about $18 a month. It isn't the fastest or most reliable connection, but works well enough. I did have to buy the phone, but I got a $180 refurbed phone.

When I was still on AT&T, I had a prepaid plan that had texting and something like 500 or 900 minutes a month for $25 a month--and a phone I got on sale at a drugstore that cost $10. If you do a lot of phone calling where you have access to the internet, instead of on the go, you can have Skype with unlimited minutes in the US and a phone number for $9 a month.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-19 09:23 pm (UTC)
zana16: The Beatles with text "All you need is love" (Default)
From: [personal profile] zana16
Awesome, thanks. I'll look into it.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-20 12:58 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] indywind
I have a couple years old Nokia nonsmart phone that cost $30 new, and a prepaid plan from TMobile: calls at ~ $.10/minute and texts at $.10/each. It typically costs me ~ $100/year for all my use.
(ETA: I just remembered having recently read that they are restructuring their payment plans, so the option I have may no longer be available to new customers, and eventually perhaps not even existing customers. then I will have to repeat the process by which I found them in the first place: finding out whioh providers have good coverage in my area, which have prepaid plans, then comparing rates and probable costs for my typical pattern of use.)

I do my internetting at free wifi spots, of which there are many in my town (if only few in walking distance from my house in the working-class part of town), on break at work, or at the homes of friends/relations who have internet. I can't imagine paying $100/month for phone/internet, for myself.
Edited Date: 2013-06-20 01:14 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-20 02:15 pm (UTC)
zana16: The Beatles with text "All you need is love" (Default)
From: [personal profile] zana16
I actually have the TMobile prepaid $.10/minute plan as well, but I guess I must talk and text a lot more than you! It comes out to $35-$50 per month depending on usage for me.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-20 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] indywind
::nods::
My typical super low usage, with occasional marked increases, is a major reason why I chose a prepay-per-use plan over a monthly billed contract. Why pay $30 most months for an average 20 minutes of use, when a contract I could get for that price wouldn't cover the occasions when I use 1000+ minutes in a month. Someone else with more consistent moderate or high usage would probably find pay-by-month contract a better deal.

Everybody's different. I can't say what's the best specific solution for anybody else, but it does make a huge difference to seek a solution that fits one's own situation rather than defaulting to what's popular or most-aggressively promoted.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-19 08:52 pm (UTC)
silveraspen: silver trees against a blue sky background (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveraspen
I respectfully disagree. There is some validity in using a smartphone versus more expensive computer resources for equivalent support. It depends on where you gain the savings, and what value is achieved.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-19 09:02 pm (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
I'm inclined to say that there's different kinds of need. (I'm paying about $85 a month for limited texting, unlimited data - I snuck in before Verizon discontinued the plan - and very mild phone minutes, most of which I don't usually use.) But it's worth it to me to pay the extra $40ish a month over what it'd be without a smart phone because:

1) I live in rural Maine: we don't have a wide choice of providers anyway (which means, I couldn't go for several of the cheapest or pay-as-you go options - they just don't have adequate reliable coverage. So the price difference is more like $25-40, not closer to $100.)

2) I live in rural Maine and use my phone as a GPS device when going anywhere unfamiliar. (Saves me getting lost, gives me lots of options if I get turned around, does not require me to update maps.) But that requires data plan.

3) I'm an IT Librarian, and while it's not *entirely* my job to have a smart phone, I both do periodic classes on it, and talk about interesting apps/etc. as part of blog posts/etc. (Not so much specific "Use this app" but the "Hey, did you know some phones can do X?") and also some testing of specific library database apps, etc.

4) I live in rural Maine, and while there's a fair number of places with free wifi, many of the most reliable to find either have limited hours or are, y'know, McDonalds. I'd rather be certain I have access if I end up having to punt (due to weather, etc.) while somewhere else in the state. (Either to find a place to eat, or find my way home, or whatever.)

Related: I do *just* enough travelling that having portable 'Net has been a massive saver of energy and spoons pretty much every time I travel. (Yay, chronic medical stuff), or times when "find a wifi spot in an unfamiliar place" was just one thing too many.

5) I have a very good friend with hearing impairment: she lipreads. We mostly manage phone okay (and do a lot of our communication by IM and email and such), but it has been a big reassurance to know that if something happened to her, or to me, and we really need to talk and she's not managing voice, that we could FaceTime and she could lipread as a backup.

(It did not quite come to this, but we came close when I called her from the emergency vet an hour away from home when my previous cat was being put down. Those are the kinds of time one really needs one's best friend, and I was nowhere near a known wifi point.)

6) I use it for multiple things I'd otherwise be spending money on - for example, I use it as a pedometer, but the app I use works on both the accelerometer (which the iTouch would have) but also a GPS position, which it doesn't.

7) Related to the chronic health stuff: having *one* device to manage (that is everything from alarm clock to pedometer to to-do list to phone to web browser if I need it to music listening) turns out to be a huge amount easier on me day to day than a phone and something else. (I did non-smart phone and iTouch for about two years, 2-4 years ago, and it was - it worked, but it was severely suboptimal in terms of my remembering both of them or charging both of them, sometimes. And on a practical matter, my phone is always in my pocket or on my desk, and carrying two things rather than one would be noticeably heavier.)

Most of these certainly don't apply to anyone else here (though hi, if you're also in rural Maine, feel free to PM and see if we're anywhere near each other!) but they're good enough reasons for me to spend more each month and manage my budget in other ways as a trade-off, especially given a relatively small amount of $$ difference in my case. (I'd be a lot more motivated to find alternate solutions if my bill or the difference were three figures, not two, is what I'm saying there.)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-19 09:18 pm (UTC)
belleweather: (Default)
From: [personal profile] belleweather
Yeah, I'm not loving this either.

My husband and I had smartphones through Virgin Mobile that we paid $35/m for. 400 minutes and unlimited data and texting. We bought the phones on sale at Target ($50 each). Eventually we had to go up to a $50/m plan for them because we needed more minutes. There's absolutely an argument to be made for choosing cheaper devices and/or cheaper plans -- although a lot of people get their nice phones as gifts or from trade-ins or free with contract.

But the decision as to whether you need or want a smartphone is WAY more than whether it's your sole source of internet and whether you need it for you job. We were new in the area, predominantly used transit, worked variable hours, often didn't have internet connectivity/access at work, store most of our information in the cloud, and lived far from family. Plus we were coordinating an international move and dealing with setting up services for a special needs child. And, while I could get texts and e-mail I often couldn't talk on the phone during work. So having access to e-mail, the internet, transit schedules and ease of texting was WAY worth the $35/m to me. It would have been worth the $100/m a normal contact would have taken too, but I'm a cheapskate and couldn't sign a contract anyway.

I hate posts like this because I feel like they're trying to ignore the complexities of life. At my previous job I was in front of a phone and a computer all day and didn't carry a phone at all, 'cause I didn't need it. Everyone has to make their own call as to the services they get and what they're worth and that calculus is highly individual. It seems really presumptuous to try to make that call for everyone, everywhere, all the time.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-20 01:01 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] indywind
"I hate posts like this because I feel like they're trying to ignore the complexities of life. .... Everyone has to make their own call as to the services they get and what they're worth and that calculus is highly individual. It seems really presumptuous to try to make that call for everyone, everywhere, all the time."

IAWTC.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-19 09:23 pm (UTC)
foxfirefey: A guy looking ridiculous by doing a fashionable posing with a mouse, slinging the cord over his shoulders. (geek)
From: [personal profile] foxfirefey
For myself in an urban area, having access to internet on the go is really, really useful for the bus system. The buses sometimes don't come frequently enough to be convenient to just go stand by until they come. There is an application called OneBusAway that can really help out with catching a bus that can get you where you need to go with the least amount of time spent waiting. I've went a long, long time without a smartphone and I did okay but it's really nice to have now.

That being said, if you don't need a fancy phone there are options that are much cheaper than $100 a month. Ting is one, like I mentioned above and there is Freedom Pop that will give you a free amount of mobile internet if you pay for the hardware.

I'm in the process of getting my mother onto Ting, in fact, because she CAN'T afford AT&T. She knows it and really wants to do something else, but the current shit paying job she has wants her to be accessible to students 24x7 by email, which means a data plan, which means that she is currently paying $200 A MONTH for her phone and the phones of two kids. Which she can't afford, at all. She went in trying to see if anything can be done since she is out of contract, but the answer was it would cost $10 MORE to add in the data.

She's probably going to move one kid, who has a job, onto her own plan that she pays for on her own, and the other just needs a simple phone. Moving them to a smaller carrier is going to save her a lot of money--even though it comes with an upfront cost of buying the phones, the difference will quickly be made up.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-19 11:18 pm (UTC)
jamethiel: A cat lies in a basket of wool, looking happy (CatWool)
From: [personal profile] jamethiel
When I was living out in the middle of nowhere with only dial-up internet, which one person in the house continually used, a smartphone that I could use while travelling was literally a life-saver. At the time, the internet was my ONLY form of social interaction beyond my housemates (living out in the middle of nowhere means you don't see your friends). I was travelling four hours a day to a job I hated and being able to communicate with my friends was the only thing that kept me sane.

I was in debt, yes. But all of my bills got paid and I paid off over $3000 worth of debt.

Obviously everyone's circumstances are different, but emotional needs are sometimes just as valid as financial ones. Paying that $49 a month saved me from spending much, MUCH more in the form of useless junk to try and make myself feel better.

Oh: in addition, with living out where I was, quite often my phone was the ONLY means I would have of verifying whether I could get home by public transport, or whether I would be stuck at at the station needing a taxi ride that would cost me $50 and so I should start ringing round friends to see if I could crash on their sofa for the night.
Edited Date: 2013-06-19 11:21 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-19 11:55 pm (UTC)
carolyn_claire: (Tim is concerned)
From: [personal profile] carolyn_claire
PagePlus Cellular is a prepaid service that uses the Verizon network and has decently priced plans. I have a $30 plan for my Pixi that I never go over because I generally only use the internet services over wi-fi. There are good prepaid plans out there that cost a lot less than the big names, especially if your phone gets wi-fi (but even their larger plans can cost less than the big-company smaller plans).

(frozen) (no subject)

Date: 2013-06-20 12:27 am (UTC)
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
From: [personal profile] vass
I see this so often where I work and amongst my friends -- people who struggle to make ends meet and yet the majority of them have a smartphone (with a dataplan).

A friend of mine who has 2 part time jobs and no health insurance recently had a medical emergency that landed her in the hospital for two days and she's dreading that bill. But, she's got a Samsung Galaxy SIII and a phone bill of over $100/month for it.


Isn't this against the community rules, specifically, no judging?

Not to mention that as I understand the community purpose, it's meant to be about your own finances, not about your opinions of your friends' and colleagues' finances.

(frozen) (no subject)

Date: 2013-06-20 12:37 am (UTC)
jamethiel: A kingfisher with a fish in its beak perches on a bare branch (KingfisherFish)
From: [personal profile] jamethiel
Thank you for raising this as a concern. I'm going to make a mod statement below.

I'm going to freeze replies to your comment to stop things getting out of hand, but please don't take it as a rap on the knuckles--it's not intended as one.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-20 12:46 am (UTC)
jamethiel: Money! (Money)
From: [personal profile] jamethiel
Hey, [personal profile] devilc. [community profile] actyourwage mod here.

This post is borderline. The stated aim of the community is This comm aims to provide a non-judgemental environment for people to post their findings, finances and failings in to give and get advice from the collective community brain.. This post is not about you--your frustration at others' financial irresponsibility comes through. It's borderline for being a "finding" and comes across more as chastising people than anything else.

A lot of money management is psychological. If you've found not having a smartphone is a choice that works for you, fantastic. But it's not necessarily a choice that works for a lot of people, and their reasons for paying for a smartphone/dataplan are valid, even if you don't agree with their priorities.

I'm allowing this post to stay up. Everyone, please keep things civil and respectful. I'm watching and will delete/freeze/ban as I see fit.
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyrielle
(And mine is a want, so this is not "my" reasons, but I know people with some of these:)

* Large portion of time spent on the go and need to be able to access resources there. This is everyone from "two hours each way bus commute" folks to "travels for work almost weekly, this is cheaper than buying wifi access at every airport" folks.

* Lives in an area where free/reliable wifi is hard to come by while out and about

* Has a need for internet access while at work for personal reasons, but use of the company intranet is contraindicated (inappropriate by company policy even for good reason; or the reasons are private - for example medical matters - and don't want IT's monitoring to even possibly pick it up)

* Has a need for productivity tools that synchronize, including while out/about, including while wifi may not be (or definitely isn't) available.

(Shared grocery lists. Shared task lists. Etc.)

* Health issues that need additional security/safety inherent in such a phone.

* Health issues that make other workarounds suboptimal (keeping track of / carrying / using multiple devices; use of physical lists or texts rather than apps; etc.).

* Different cost ratios. There are some areas where only one provider - usually one of the big ones - has any coverage to speak of. The price differences may not be nearly as large / beneficial in those cases. Also, some people may have a discount with one particular provider due to where they work, in which case it may not cost as much as someone not aware of that might think.

* Health issues again, this time mental. I know someone whose little networked phone games help them A LOT with coping. Shall I criticize them for finding a solution that helps them tune out things they need to tune out, so that they can better deal with life, just because it involves a data plan? I've seen chemical fixes for that same issue that cost more than a data plan....

Certainly, if you're short on money, and your phone is a want, you have to weigh that against your other wants and weigh it hard against your needs. But I don't think someone else should be doing that weighing for a person.

(Also, having been hit with hospital bills, the phone is a drop in the bucket compared to the probable hospital bill.)
jamethiel: A common kingfisher sits on a branch with a background of green foliage. (Default)
From: [personal profile] jamethiel
YEP.

I ticked off the first point, second point, third point.

I'd also add just a "safety" thing. Quite often unless I had access to mobile data, I wouldn't know that trains had been cancelled/stopped at a certain station. I went through some incredibly high-crime-rate stations to get to my work. If the train was going to stop at a station for a bus replacement which would require me to spend 20 minutes waiting for a bus at the side of the road while a drug addict harassed me for money (actually happened), I would generally choose to catch the longer bus ride to a different train line. But unless I had a smart-phone, I wouldn't know about it at all.
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyrielle
...I am now deeply grateful that my personal experience doesn't include stations like that. Yikes.
jamethiel: A common kingfisher sits on a branch with a background of green foliage. (Default)
From: [personal profile] jamethiel
It was not fun. Other memorable instances include the time the police stormed the platform and tackled a guy 20m away from me to the ground and took a knife off him o.O There were two drive-by shootings there in a year.
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyrielle
Whups, and on my last point, I want to note I am *not* criticizing said chemical solutions *nor* am I saying that a smart phone with a data plan will substitute for them for everyone. I'm just saying that for the person I knew, it did in fact help them to that huge a degree, and that they needed it enough that had they gotten rid of that help they might in fact have needed the expensive chemical fixes.

Which are invaluable if you need them and they're what works.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-06-20 03:33 pm (UTC)
crystalpyramid: crystal pyramid suspended in dimensional abnormality (Default)
From: [personal profile] crystalpyramid
My smartphone is not a necessity for work, but it is a necessity if I am to have any life at all outside of work. I spend 2.5 hours/day in transit during the school year in my current job, and I caved in and got a smartphone three months into the job, after realizing I was three months behind on emails to my mother and all other human beings.

It's also nice for transit planning and not getting lost in strange cities, but that's not what makes it essential.

More Discount Smartphone Options

Date: 2013-06-20 06:05 pm (UTC)
drunkoffthestars: (FOB - Joe ACES!)
From: [personal profile] drunkoffthestars
Another lower-cost option for smartphone service: Net10 Wireless, which is a T-Mobile and AT&T reseller. I've been very happy with them for the most part (unlimited minutes, unlimited text, 1.5GB data), and by having a friend join me to make a 'family plan' and purchasing my refills from CallingMart.com with a 3% discount code (they regularly offer 7% discount codes on other plans/cards), my monthly phone cost is down to $43 and change, which is as much or less than I was paying for my old verizon dumbphone/plan, so it is pretty perfect for my budget. NET10's website currently only offer SIM cards for T-Mobile's network, but you can still get AT&T SIMs on ebay if you would prefer (I got AT&T for better rural coverage for when I'm driving around rural Texas for work). The AT&T SIMs have a data limit of 1.5GB, which I have never come near, and T-Mobile is ostensibly unlimited.

Obviously not a great choice for those on a very strict budget (or not in the USA), but a decent option for those of us who want to get our 'wants' for a little cheaper. :D

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