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 Ting.com 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.