How We Save $1720 A Year On Phone Service, Scavenger Style!

We are completely dependent on smart phones for running our eBay business. We use our iPhones to answer questions, accept offers, send invoices, find thrift stores in new towns, do research at estate sales.

When the iPhone came out, we were some of the first people to sign up in 2007. Seriously, that phone was life changing. Web browsing, Google maps, GPS, endless apps? Yes please. (Ever try doing web stuff on a Blackberry in 2007?)

So this means I got an AT&T account because they had a monopoly on the iPhone for the first three years. We’ve each been paying $104/month since then. Honestly, it was the cost of doing business because we like to be connected wherever we are.  It's really a piece of technology that has lived up to its promise and vastly improved our efficiency. Google maps is instrumental in finding our way around ("Siri, where is the nearest Thrift store"). And now our cell phones enable us to run our eBay business from anywhere (even overseas!). AT&T was solid. Never had any issues to complain about (except NSA stuff). What we have really paying for is “access in any situation”.  We never wanted to be caught in a place without being connected. Plus, we cancelled our land lines years ago so our cell phones are the way you reach us.

But $104/month each is a lot of money. That’s over $1200 a year. Ryanne has the same plan, so we’ve been paying almost $2500 a year for two cell phones!! I know it's crazy, but we honestly had (almost) the most basic plans possible. Unlimited data, unlimited text messages, and 450 "anytime" minutes. We couldn’t get less minutes than 450. We could have paid per text, but we never knew when we'd be frequent texting. We could have downgraded to 2GB data a month, but that would only lower our bill by about $10/month. They required us to pay for the service even if we didn't use it. Plus almost $15 just is "fees"? AT&T automatically charged our bank account so we really never saw the money come and go.

There are two ways to increase your monthly income: earn more income or reduce your bills. We realized that this was one of our highest monthly costs and something must be done. After several hours of doing online research reading reviews, I found people gushing over Ting. I mentioned it to a friend who said he uses it and sent me over a screenshot of his monthly bill. Since personal recommendations are really important to sway me, I decide to go for it.

Ting uses the Sprint network which means I needed to buy a new (to me) phone. I was willing to pay the $300 for an almost new iPhone 5, but you can get ridiculously cheap android phones. If you already have a phone that works on Sprint, there’s no cost to port it over. I bought my used phone from Ting, but you can also just buy it yourself on eBay or wherever, as long as it works with Sprint.

What I love is the way they bill you. I only pay for what I use. The first month on Ting, my bill was $32. I was using my phone as I always do. They only charged $2.88 for fees/taxes.

Remember, that on AT&T, I was paying for the “access in any situation”, but in reality I don't talk on the phone much and used my wifi for data when at home.  But of course, if I ever go away from home on a long trip, I'll get full access as always, but will just pay for it. Fair enough.

Now that I'm on Ting and can see my daily usage, I'm learning to use even less of their network.

I make all my home calls using Google Talk (its just a free VOIP service). All those 30 minute calls to healthcare/insurance companies wastes minutes on the phone network so I just call from my computer. I also make sure I’m always on wifi at home for web surfing and checking my eBay app. When I'm out in the world, I don’t use my phone to watch videos, download photos, or any other heavy use. Just checking eBay messages and email. I also don’t make unneeded calls until I get home. Most things can wait till I'm on my home wifi.

Ting only charges you for what you use. They have a Savings Calculator to show you what your bill will most likely be.

Ting also has international calls, tethering, mobile wifi hotspots, voicemail, etc. Everything I was getting from AT&T.  They will even help buy you out of your current phone contract. Ting doesn't have phone contracts (I LOVE THIS).

I also like that Ting is small enough that a real person picks up the phone on the second ring. Any questions emailed through their help page is usually answered the same day. Trust me--that didn’t happen with AT&T. I can even set up alerts to tell me if I go over usage thresholds so I can see if I'm somehow using the network in an unintended way. There's also a Ting app so I can check my usage from anywhere.  I wish I could view and manipulate our other utilities, like electric, like this.

Some people warned me about the Sprint Network not covering many places. It is one of the smaller of the 4 phone networks in the US, but I made sure we had a Sprint tower in our area. No dropped calls for me. Their coverage seems expansive. We live in the mountains so I actually get service in some places where I never got service before. A nice bonus. Your coverage may be different.

Since my experiment went so well, Ryanne is going to switch over next month. So we’re going to go from paying $208/month ($2500 /yr) to $65/month ($780 year). Huge. That's less we have to work and sell on eBay. Plus I now don’t feel like chump.

Last perk. My friend sent me a referral code where we‘d each got a $25 Ting credit if I switched. Basically I got my first month almost free. So since we’re Scavenger friends, here’s a referral link so we can both get $25. Or just go to and sign up without the referral.

As always if Ting's service start going south, I'll make sure I mention it here. Hopefully they never get too big where service starts to suffer.


  1. You guys might want to also check out metro pcs. not sure if it is available in your area. metro pcs just became part of tmobile last year and just this month converted subscribers to the tmobile nationwide network. I pay $61 a month for unlimited 4g with no contract which allows me to do unlimited ebay lookups while out yard sailing and thrifting. the only thing is that they do not offer an iphone option so it has to be an android.

    1. Agreed. Because we love the iPhone, Ting was the only smaller, discount carrier we could find. But if you don't mind using an Android phone, Republic Wireless looks like a smart choice.

      I also like Ting because we don't pay a dime if we don't use the service. So if we leave the country for a coupe months, we wouldn't pay any fees since we'd most likely get a new SIM card wherever we were.

  2. I love ting. At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I tell everyone who's looking to save money on their phone plans about it. Me and my partner switched from Verizon--he was paying $105 a month, I was on a family plan that my dad paid (A LOT) for. Our bill for last month, for both phones, was $33. I REALLY love that there's no contract involved. We've had it for a couple months and have had very few issues with it. There's been a couple times where a picture message won't go through, but I had bad service. Other than that, nothing but positives!

  3. Donna in Warrenton, VAMay 15, 2014 at 7:34 AM

    We love ting. We had the same experience where we were using verizon and paying way more for our 2 phones. Then we found ting and have been using it since last sept. We have samsung galaxy s4 phones and they work great. Our phone bill for last month was $39 compared to our old phone plan were we were paying $150. It varies from month to month depending on how much is used but that's what's great. If you don't use it you don't have to pay for it. We don't use that much data since we're usually on wi-fi.

    When we started, our main category was phone minutes but we've changed our business land line and now have free long distance on that so the phone minutes are in the small category.

    So far we've had no problem with getting a connection. The only area that we've had a little trouble with is when we're down at the VA eastern shore.

    At the time we purchased our phones ting didn't support the iphone and our daughter has an iphone. So she went with the virgin mobile $30/month plan and that works great for her. It's unlimited everything and the data uses the wi-fi when it's available. The down side for her is the connection down at the eastern shore is very limited but she's not down there as much as we are. Most areas she's not had a problem with coverage.

  4. I was wondering how these new comnpanies can provide the same service but for a lower price. When I spoke with a Ting rep on the phone, he said they just buy in bulk from Sprint...and then built a system to sell it. So they don't have to actually pay for tower maintenance, workers, etc.

    Seems weird that Sprint who also offers phone contracts would undercut themselves by selling in bulk to another company. I won't complain. I'm just so psyched we're paying so little now for what we've always had.

  5. This is such great info Jay. I use AT&T and can't help feel that I'm getting shafted every month on charges and fees. Also my reception is spotty lately which is pissing me off since it seems to happen when I need my data connection most. Recently in South Dakota I needed my connection to check prices at yard sales and of course it was a dead zone so I couldn't make a good decision on if I should by some items. Also hit some other dead spots in Missouri while I was at a large flea market which also kept me from making purchase decisions on some vintage items. So why should I pay AT&T $62.00 a month for no service when Ting might be viable for half the cost. Please keep us posted on the pros and cons as you use the service as I may be jumping the AT&T ship for Ting also. Great blog post! Keep up the good work.

  6. Thanks for the info. I'm about to get my husband and then in a few months myself our first smart phones and I am thinking of going with TING too but a family member just told me about Virgin Mobile too which is $35 ($30 if you autopay) a month with no contract for unlimited up to 2.5 G of data; unlimited texting and 300 minutes talk. That sounds like a better deal if I use alot of the data but my problem is I have no idea how much data I will use. I'm mainly going to use data for eBay research in stores or garage sales before I buy items which I can't do now and it will be nice to be able to check email and get back to customers questions more quickly if I'm out. Plus my husband and I both will probably check Facebook. In the future I'm also considering doing retail arbitrage for FBA but haven't started yet. I have no idea how much data that would actually use so I'm not really sure which would be a better plan for us to go with. I also want to buy an Iphone 5 and am noticing that they aren't available used from Virgin Moblie but they are with Ting so that may clinch the deal with Ting right there. Had you looked into Virgin Mobile at all? How often do you look up prices for eBay?

    1. There are many of these discount phone services popping up, so best to find the one that matches your needs.

      Here's why we chose Ting:
      --We have a Sprint Tower in our town so service is excellent.
      --Ting charges us just for what we use. So some months we are traveling overseas and never use our phone so we just pay the minimum $6 per phone. On ATT, we had to pay $100/month regardless if we used it or not.
      --We also didn't know how much data we use. But Ting shows us how much we use in real time. Together, Ryanne and I barely use 1GB of data a month. Remember, we're home a lot and on wifi (which doesn't count). We always use our phones to check eBay while running around town. What we don't do is watch videos or download photo albums. That's where the data gets eaten up.
      --And yes, we wanted to make sure we had the iPhone 5. Most other services I saw focused on the Android or lower version of the iPhone.

      Hope this helps.

  7. I just got my second TING bill, it was only $52 for two phones, I think this will be the going rate for us. AND the best part is that we were at the bottom of the tier rate, which means for $52 we actually have a lot of minutes & texting & data we can use. The first month, I was conservative with the phone, last month, I said to heck with it, lets be realistic. I hope others will make the switch. We are saving $80. a month on cell bills.

    1. Yeah, our average bill has been about the same. We also have plenty of extra use left when we mainly use our wifi at home. The extra use is good when we've been traveling and need to use more. I like this system much better than how ATT charged me a flat rate whether I used it or not.

  8. Just bought an Iphone 6 on Ebay and will be switch to Ting, Cant wait. I will look for the promo code. Love the podcast...keep it up.

    1. Yeah I think one downside on Ting and other discount carriers is that it takes 6-8 months to get the newest model phone. I guess Apple makes special deals with ATT/Verizon for an exclusive period? We have an iPhone 5 on Ting and it's cool.

  9. Actually Iphone 6 wont be available for a while on Ting :(

  10. It's been about a year now, are you still using and happy with Ting?

    1. Yep, it's incredible that we still just pay $50 or less a month combined for both our phones. If you pay more, you should look into one of the discount phone services. (Tracfone, Virgin, etc)

      If you want to try Ting, use our referral code for $25 credit: