RPF 0004 - How to Save Huge Money on Your Cell Phone Bill (An Interview with I.P. Daley, the Tech Meshugana)

Today’s show is a comprehensive guide that will give you an incredible foundation in how to save big money on your cell phone bills.  Our guest, I.P. Daley from www.techmeshugana.com shares his tips and techniques for how he has lowered all of his communications bills to <$70 per month.

Resources for today’s show:

  • Our guest is Will, A.K.A. “I.P. Daley.” He blogs at www.techmeshugana.com/
  • The “ISP, VOIP, and Cellphone Superguide” hosted in the Mr. Money Mustache forums
  • I.P. Daley’s budget – $70 per month for two cell phones, high-speed internet, home phone, business line, and entertainment
  • Joshua’s budget – $35 per month for two cell phones, high-speed internet, and entertainment (Will go up a few dollars when I add a home phone on VOIP.)
  • Nobody needs unlimited anything.  How much do you actually use?  Most people miscalculate this.
  • You probably don’t need as much data as you think.  If you can cut out streaming audio and video and heavy GPS use, your usage will probably be quite low.
  • Streaming media: switch to applications that download your content when you’re on wi-fi instead of trying to stream everything live.
  • Bundling: do the math, most people don’t come out ahead.
  • Business use vs. home use: if your boss requires you to use your personal device, they should pay for it.  Negotiate accordingly.  Also, consider…do you really need to be connected to your business at all times?
  • How to calculate what you need: inspect your bills, count your actual usage on minutes/text/data, consider where you use your devices and get an idea of what you actually need.  That gives you what you need to go shopping for a new plan.  Average it out over a few months.  You can review your bills, use your carrier’s website for usage details, or simply use the counter in your actual phone.
  • Where do you actually use your phone?  Can you reduce that usage through home internet/wifi, home VOIP service, or SMS replacement services?
  • Calculate if breaking contract makes sense.  Here is Daley’s article on how the early termination fees work with each of the major carriers.  
  • Here is Daley’s online calculator you can use to see when you break even. Many times, simply paying the early termination fee is worth it.
  • You can often re-sell your device on for more than the cost of the early termination fee.  You can try eBay, Amazon (they offer/offered a gift certificate program in the past…you’ll have to check to see if it still exists, Radio Shack,  elegreen, NextWorth, gazelle, BuyMyTronics, and Glyde.  There are probably more…some quick web searches will help you find them.
  • Why Daley doesn’t like iPhones: “Are iPhones Worth It?”
  • 42:00 Basics on devices:
  • Smartphones, do we really need them?
  • iPhone, Android, RIM Blackberry – some features are very useful for the right people.  But consider that a phone that does everything probably doesn’t do everything well.  Specialized devices (such as a stand-alone GPS) are often more functional.  Is this a tool or a toy?  
  • There is a whole world of “feature phones” available and they are quite capable for talking, texting, email, GPS, etc. and come with a much lower price tag than the well-known smartphones.  Consider the Nokia Asha,  and Nokia Symbian or a phone running the J2ME environment.
  • How to keep usage low on any device: There are great replacements for mobile GPS such as Sygic GPS Navigation (doesn’t need mobile data).  There are plenty of apps to load audio/video on to the device instead of streaming it online. There are SMS replacements such as XMS, Kik, Nimbuzz, Talkonaut, Google Voice, Skype, Talkatone. There are data compression apps available such as onavo, opera mini, and dolphin (but Daley isn’t really a fan of these).
  • The problem with going to a pure data solution (such as a data line on a tablet) is the potential of losing service under emergency situations.  Here is Daley’s article on his recent experience in the May 31 Tornado, where he would have been sunk if he only had a mobile data provider..
  • What to look for: Read the contract! First, how long is it?Looking for features you need as each carrier is different. Look for pitfalls like number availability, abuse clauses, etc.
  • Airvoice Wireless – runs on the AT&T network, US-based customer support, voice prices are $.05 per minute, data prices are $0.33 per MB, rollover, 30 day auto-renew, call forwarding on per-minute plans, BYOD
  • Platinum Tel and Giv Mobile – network, support, voice prices, data prices, long airtime with pay-go, international, rollover, 8% charity donation on Giv monthly, BYOD
  • GoSmart Mobile – network, support, unlimited, cheaper than P’tel for “unlimited” data plans, BYOD
  • Ting – networks, roaming, prepaid/postpaid hybrid, alacarte usage, great for family plans, usage control features, BYOD
  • Virgin Mobile – network, provider, support, data speeds
  • Page Plus – network, plans, support, BYOD, America Movil
  • Talk for Good – network, plans, support, BYOD, alternative to America Movil
  • StraightTalk / NET10 / Tracfone (Walmart) – network, support, cost for what’s received, potential advantages
  • Republic Wireless & FreedomPop – network, support, data-only risks, price
  • Google Voice features not exclusive to Google Voice – global call hunt, SMS support, voicemail to email, cheaper international rates
  • VoIP for home and on road: Google Voice + Talkatone, VOIPo, VOIP.ms, CallCentric, Future Nine, PhonePower, NetTalk. We discussed Magic Jack and ooma, but Daley does not recommend them.
  • Research and work out what you need to be well informed as a customer
  • Know that very few people need anything near approaching unlimited, and unlimited is not infinite, as such DO THE MATH!
  • Read contracts and understand them
  • Stay away from vendor lock-in if at all possible with handsets and devices
  • Be willing to compromise 


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