Maybe you read about how I was thinking about canceling my cell phone service. I calculated the value it provided me (about $10) vs the actual cost ($33). I ran into a great friend and MMA reader in our local coffee shop and was chatting about this. “So” he asked, “If you could get a cell phone plan for $9.99, then you would?” “Yup, that about sums it up!” I explained.
I was kind of being a smarty pants when the cell phone guy asked if I wanted to just downgrade my plan instead of canceling. “Yeah, maybe” I said. “If you have plans for less than $10 a month.” “We do!” he exclaimed. Um…ok, now you have my attention.
Turns out that there are plans for $7 a month for 3g phones or $8 a month for 4g phones. You pay upfront for the year $83/$100 and receive 2000 minutes and 2000 text messages. It’s kind of perfect for me! If I only use 15 minutes one month (a very typical situation for me) I have more minutes to use later in the year (like when we are traveling and coordinating reservations).
After a bit of talking with Mr. Mt, we realized that he would be perfectly fine using the 4G plan. He can keep his sweet phone, use the WiFi, and easily learn to live without a data plan.
It’s not perfect for everyone. But after years of working a job where his phone was like a work leash, I think us going more low tech is kind of a perk to leaving the 9-5. Even when he was in the military, he was required to have a cell phone and be accessible at all times. His last job was a stream of ASAP work emails chiming through the phone and 24 hour shifts on call.
Being less accessible 24/7 feels like a small luxury.
Instead of paying $66 a month, our new monthly expense will be $15 (although paid upfront). That frees up an extra $51 a month or over $600 a year!
Depending on what stage of your financial journey you are in, that money could go to many different thing. Paying off debt, saving up for a home, remodel, Roth IRA, or something else very responsible. Basically Guard the Gap stuff. We have made those very responsible choices for 15 years now, which has helped bring us here.
Instead, I think we are going to spend that $51 a month. Our passive income covers all our bills at this point, so I don’t feel the need to cut expenses just for the sake of cutting. But I am a value hound. I want my time, money, energy and possessions to bring the most value possible! Starting in April, I’ll add a line item to our Monthly Expenses post talking about where we spend that $51.
My motivation is two fold for you all. 1. A lot of people poo-poo little savings. Like it just doesn’t matter. I want to show what we are buying instead – things/experiences that really do add value to us. 2. Intentionality. It can be easy to just go with the flow and not question things. We get so busy racing around that we don’t ask if a purchase is really adding value in proportion to the cost. I’m hoping if I can be transparent in our value intentionality, that maybe you will be inspired to be thoughtful about yours as well. Because money is a great tool, but a horrible goal.
The crazy thing to me is this: If my phone hadn’t dropped on the floor and busted, I might not have questioned the value of our cell phone plan ($33 a month seemed very reasonable to me!). Had I not calculated the value, I might not have asked about uber cheap plans. If I hadn’t asked, we would still be spending $51 more every month without any extra benefit.
The teenage girl I mentor thought this was hilarious and has no problem mocking my new ridiculous cell phone (it is very funny!). It was a classic Their Up is My Down moment. But really it comes down to the Highlight Reel. Some thing are my “most important”, or it’s “the rest”. Unlimited minutes/text and lots of data is absolutely “the rest” for me. You’ll have to stay tuned to see what ends up making the “most important” list in future monthly expenses.
Do you review your fixed expenses to make sure you are getting the best value compared to the cost?
How funny is this cell phone?! I think they found a case of them in a Y2K bunker.
If you had an extra $51 you HAD to spend each month, what would you spend it on?