iPhone and iSave

I’ve always been that guy when it comes to cell phones.  And anybody reading this probably knows at least one guy like me –  the guy that always goes with the free phone when I’m signing up for my cell phone plan or extending my contract with a current provider. 

And I’ve been fine with being that guy up until this point in my life.  Sure, I was still walking around with an analog phone when everything went digital.  And yes, I was still carrying around a Zack Morris/Saved By the Bell sized phone when flip phones first came out.  My last phone did have a camera though – .00025 megapixels!!  

But hey – I only needed my phone to make calls, right?

That’s what I thought until I finally popped for an iPhone – the 3GS, 16gb in black.  And I must admit, it is a tremendously useful little device. 

But why include this in a blog on my personal financial situation? 

Because my decision to switch carriers (former US Cellular customer) and go with the iPhone was based primarily on the fact that doing so would actually SAVE me money in the long run be reducing my monthly cell phone budget. 

I know … Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? 

Well in a recent conversation with my boss I mentioned how useful and iPhone would be for business purposes: checking work email, navigating while traveling, having access to the internet while at various industry conferences, etc. 

And you know what – he agreed.   And he agreed to the tune of 60% – the percentage of my monthly phone bill that my company has agreed to pay. 

So now I have a monthly plan with AT&T (including internet, minutes and text) that runs approximately $115 per month: my share of this translates to roughly $46! 

My previous plan with US Cellular ran me $70 a month and I had no internet access, the same minutes and fewer text messages.  Granted, I did have to buy out of my current contract – a cost of $140. 

It’s possible to argue that I could have looked at US Cellular smart phones and accomplished the same thing – save money by getting my employer to pick up part of the tab.  But I admit it – the idea of finally splurging for phone and those incessantly catchy Apple commercials led me straight to the iPhone.  In my mind, US Cellular didn’t offer a smart phone that could compete with the iPhone on a number of levels – so, I ate the contract cancellation penalty (understanding that my plan to now split the bill with my employer would offset this upfront cost of switching providers in less than 6 months). 

The long-term result – I’ve got a much better/more useful phone and going foward the switch is going to save me money on a monthly basis. 

The lesson – think outside of the box when it comes to your monthly expenses!   Taking the initiative to approach my employer will save me $288 a year – and got me a better phone and monthly plan. 

And while not everybody might be able to sell their employer on the idea of paying a portion of their monthly bill, perhaps there are other, less obvious, options.  In the case of your cell phone bill:

1) shift to a share plan with a friend.  Typically, you can add a line to an existing plan for a relatively low monthly fee and up the minutes on the plan for less than it would cost for two individual cell phone plans. 

2) look at a lower monthly package.  Seriously, when’s the last time you actually analyzed whether you have too much or too little when it comes to your monthly minutes?  Call your provider and ask them to analyze your usage over the last 6 months. 

Any other ideas on how to save when it comes to your cell phone bill?  Other tricks you’ve used to reduce a monthly expense?

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