Over a month ago, my then-new cell phone was stolen. I posted about whether or not I truly needed a cell phone, and received a lot of very welcome comments. Jack and I read them over and had some discussions back and forth about this matter, as well as our phone service in general.
We discussed the matter of safety, the issue of what is or is not a necessity (is it a perceived necessity but just really a convenience, or not?), and played around with different scenarios as to how we might re-adjust our budget for the most affordable option to satisfy our present needs.
It's taken a while to figure out, but here's what we determined works best for now:
1. Much of our communication and business dealings are by phone. We're not comfortable in removing this entirely, as it's our substitute for actual in-person visits with family and friends we'd otherwise never be able to afford to visit regularly. Yes, letter-writing and email play a part in staying in contact, but we still are not ready to give up on a phone altogether. That may change someday.
2. My former job assignment ended, and I'm not now on the road 8 hours daily. That'll likely change soon. We decided that if there's an inexpensive option, it would be prudent to have an emergency cell phone, since the commute is an hour each direction and my car is an older used vehicle...and much of the driving area is long stretches of interstate with many miles between exits.
3. I did not want to sign up for a plan, or buy another cell phone through a major provider.
In investigating this, Jack went in person to the office that had sold me my phone. His intention was to pay off any remaining bill, to make sure the number had been disconnected so the person who stole the phone couldn't run up charges under my name, etc. What he found out was very disconcerting...after having stated to the salesperson when I originally bought the phone that what I wanted was the least expensive, no frills one they had, I had been sold a much more expensive one. After having told her up front that I wanted a pay-as-you-go arrangement (which we already had, I was just re-affirming), she had signed me up with a long term plan WITHOUT MY SIGNATURE or KNOWLEDGE. And we owed $200, after having paid some on it already...very upsetting since I had been told the initial cost all told was $99.
I was NOT a happy camper. Despite a call to the higher powers, it was her word against mine. That is the last time I will use that company, and it's one of the best known nationwide ones. Stinky stinky stinky...
Well, anyway, here's what I did, at my husband's urging to do something...
I went to Walgreen's and bought the cheapest phone they had...$15...which was a Motorola and looks like any other basic phone out there, minus all the fancy stuff. It came with minutes already on it, and I bought $20 worth of additional minutes on one of those phone card minutes cards. The deadline date for buying more minutes to keep the phone operational is in December of this year. I'll only use the phone for emergencies...not for calling Jack and finding out what I need to get at the store, etc., but it solves that dilemma for us.
So I've paid $35.00 USD for over 70 minutes of stored call time, and I don't have to fiddle with it at all till December unless I use up the minutes by then...if I do, it's as easy as buying a $10 phone card to put more minutes on it. All told, with no additional minutes, that comes to a grand total of $5.00 a month for my phone. I can live with that!
We still have to figure out Jack's phone. Now that he's seen how affordable my phone is, he's thinking of changing from his cell phone's Big Company, to the cheapy Walgreens phone soon. That is, after paying off the (blippingbeepingfricketyfrackety) remaining $200 from my stolen phone.
We still have the home phone, and we love our home phone service because long distance anywhere nationwide is included in the one monthly charge, any time of day or night, any day of the week.
Whenever we move to our homestead (maythatdaycomequickly) someday, we'll choose the least expensive option and see how we can work that with an internet connection. That's all above my understanding, but by then we'll likely have figured it out.
There's the update...I feel much better having a phone that averages $5.00 a month for security reasons. For chatting, I'll have to stick to the home phone :)