Several years ago there were only a couple of major cell phone companies. Sprint was always the discount company that could never truly compete with the quality of the bigger wireless companies. Over the last couple of years, T-mobile emerged as a true contender to the major wireless companies.
A wireless plan typically costs you $50-80 after fees and taxes per month depending on what company you are with and what plan you signed up for. You can add in an addition $20-40 per month for the phone you bought or received for “free”. A cell phone plan for one person can quickly add up to $100-$120 per month. I know my wife was paying almost $100 every month with AT&T. If you add in a couple of people, you end up paying upwards of $160-$200 per month. If you’re paying for only one person, a $120/month cellphone bill adds up to $1,440 per year.
2% of Nurse’s Salary
According to US News, the average nurse makes $68,450 per year. The average RN with this type of cell phone bill pays 2% of their salary for their cell phone bill. That doesn’t sound like a lot right now but imagine if you saved that 2% every year for 10 years. You would have $14,400 extra cash. Now imagine if you invest that 2% every year for 10 years in an index fund that grows at an average of 9% per year such as a total stock market index fund. You would potentially have almost $24,000 at the end of 10 years and about $214,000 at the end of 30 years and over half a million after 40 years just saving 2% or $1,440 per year. Little expenses can make a huge difference over time. Of course, no one is going to go without having cell phone service these days, but you can cut dramatically the cost of your cellphone bill.
Modern LTE Coverage
Several years ago I switched to the T-Mobile $30 per month pre-paid plan through Walmart. It gave me unlimited data and text with 100 minutes of talk. When I first signed up for T-mobile, service coverage was probably on par with Sprint in that it wasn’t too great especially in rural areas. In the last couple of years, T-Mobile has upped their game and is now one of the top cell phone service providers as far as coverage and quality in my experience. I have done several long distance trips in very rural areas and have had full LTE service. In fact, we did a backpacking trip not too long ago in a national park that was pretty remote and had LTE cell phone service. This was actually disappointing because we were trying to get away from the continual data blast.
Rise of Discounted Cellphone Providers
In the past several years, 3rd party cell phone service providers have arisen such as Republic Wireless, Project FI, and Mint Mobile. These 3rd party providers piggyback on the larger networks. For example, Mint Mobile provides service through the T-Mobile network. Project FI provides service through Sprint, wifi internet, and other cell phone networks. These alternative cell phone providers are often no-contract, prepaid plans that offer service much cheaper than the main wireless companies.
My Experience with Discounted Cellphone Service
A couple of months ago, I wanted to try out a 3rd party cell phone provider to see if I could save even more money then my already ridiculously cheap $30 T-Mobile plan. I also wanted to get more talk time minutes as I would occasionally use up my 100 minutes. I spent a lot of time reading the reviews and opinions of others and finally went for one of the cheapest 3rd party cell phone providers: Mint Mobile. They were offering an unlimited text and talk with 2gb LTE data on the T-Mobile network for only $15 per month. That would cut my cell phone bill in half. I was skeptical because cheap does not mean better or necessarily result in savings in the long run, but I couldn’t find any drawbacks for my situation. They do require you to buy a year of service to get the best rates which is essentially like a contract. I’m not looking to switch providers every couple of months, and I have the savings to pay for a year at a time.
Concern of Limited Data
The major concern I had with switching to Mint Mobile was locking myself into a data plan that was too small. 2gb of LTE data is not much in today’s world of mobile video and music streaming not to mention Facebook and Instagram data. I figured with the availability of wifi almost everywhere I could limit the data guzzling apps on my phone to wifi-only and use my LTE for web browsing, Google Maps, and other apps that use less data. I thought it would be more difficult to remain under 2gb per month, but for the last several months I have used less than 1gb of LTE data per month without feeling restricted. Web browsing and Google Maps use most of my LTE data, but I haven’t really noticed any major difference in the way I use my cellphone. When I want to look on Instagram or Youtube, I’m usually connected to wifi, so I don’t even notice a difference in my usage or access.
Real Life Savings for Me
What are the savings numbers with Mint Mobile for me? I pay $15 per month for 12 months plus tax. This costs me about $200 a year for my cell phone service ($15 x 12 months + 10% sales tax). Compare that with my wife’s old AT&T plan of $100 per month equaling $1200 per year. That’s a savings of $1000 per year for just one of us! This savings could be worth $16,560 in 10 years if saved in an index fund with 9% compounding interest or potentially $148,575 in 30 years. These savings numbers in the future are theoretical, but illustrate the potential saving we will experience just by shopping and switching our cell phone plans. My wife, an iPhone 8 user, has also switched to Mint Mobile and loves it! We now pay an average of $32 per month after tax for two lines of cell phone service. This has been a major savings win for us.
Mint Mobile has been great to work with. You can transfer your current number, and it uses the T-Mobile network which has significantly improved in the past 1-2 years. You can also bring your own phone including your iPhone. Check out Mint Mobile and save your hard-earned money.