Changing Plans

PureTalkI’ll be back very soon with “For Sale” parts 3 and 4. Right now we are very busy doing things to drastically reduce our phone bill because, well, we can. What we are in the process of doing is switching to a pay-as-you-go plan and we are going to break our contract with Sprint. The savings are going to be remarkable and my head is full of all the facts and figures so forgive me if I concretize my thinking here today. You might be astounded.

My wife and I are with Sprint and we have the deluxe plan: unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited data. We are on a shared plan and are paying $140 per month. Our contract is for two years including the purchase of two iPhone 4S smart phones. Some would think that is a good deal. My functional OCD comes to the rescue here as I am happiest when I am tracking something numerically. Here is our highest usage month on our shared “unlimited” plan totaled between us:

  • 180 minutes
  • 6 texts
  • 62 Meg data

If we were using a couple thousand minutes, thousands of texts, and a few gig of data then the $140 per month would be justified. But we are not. Indeed, we don’t need that data at all since there are plenty of places that have free WiFi. A savvy smartphone user could cut down on their minutes and chat by using said WiFi to best advantage but that begins to be work. Bottom line, most months we can squeak by with a hundred minutes and a few texts.

Let’s look at what it would cost us to break our contract with Sprint now. We have 9 months to go on our contract:


I edited the above chart which continues on upward increasing by $20 each additional month up to 23 months. From the nine month mark where we are right now we can scan down to months five and below and see that the termination fee no longer reduces. We have a situation of diminishing returns with cancellation; in other words, the sooner the better if that is what we are going to do.

We are first going to migrate my wife onto the new plan that I am about to describe. We want to see how it goes before moving myself as well. What is most likely to happen is that first Cathy cancels at the nine month tier and then I will follow at the eight month cutoff. That will cost us $340 to get out of a ridiculous situation.

But where are we going to?

The plan I am about to show you is not something we can endorse today. It is incredibly cheap and all the complaints about this company are related to people buying phones directly from them. Apparently they sell refurbished phones and at least some people are having big problems with them. Not to worry, Cathy has an unlocked GSM phone and I am willing to purchase one given that her test case first works out. Let’s look at that company and their plan.


The above chart is for one person. Cathy is not going to use 130 minutes in any normal month by herself. What she doesn’t use rolls over into the next month so there should be a growing pool of minutes which would be good for a very unusual month. A single text message costs 3.3 cents and is not an additional charge but taken from your pool of minutes.

But what about me?

If we add a second person it is an additional $5 and you get an added 60 minutes. So for a grand total of $15 we get 190 minutes per month. And that, dear reader, is exactly what our highest usage month was with the fancy unlimited plan. We give up a tiny bit of data and save a whopping $125 per month on our phone bill. Per year that is $1,500. With that savings we can buy two of the most expensive smart phones of any brand every year and get them unlocked up front to begin with.

So that is where we are headed with our phones. I have ordered a free SIM with free shipping for Cathy and once it arrives we’ll see how the process of moving her phone number to it goes. I might or might not write a follow-up article but if you are curious you can ask me any time how it is going.

I will buy what I’m calling a “bridge phone” to use temporarily until I decide what phone I ultimately want to get longer term. While waiting to experiment with Cathy’s success in moving over to Pure Talk USA, I’ll be researching unlocked GSM phones. From what I’ve read comparing price and reviews, I’m going to need to spend at least $200 for solid voice quality to my ear. I am very open to suggestions but I can’t promise I will do more than research them.

I do feel that the whole laptop/tablet/smart-phone situation is in a tremendous state of flux right now and the best thing to do is wait and see for a year to let the dust settle. It is a very exciting time for technology right now and we intend to save money and be patient until the perfect little device catches our eye.

If I were not caught up in the Apple eco-system I would probably buy a Galaxy Note 2 right now. It is big but it looks to hit the sweet spot between phone and tablet and I want more of a toy than a phone when I’m out and about. I’m willing to wait and see what Apple does with its next phone and for that matter how Apple responds to all this touch-screen laptop/tablet hybrid activity. As I said, the dust will settle and too much is in a state of flux so we are backing off, saving our money, and waiting for something truly exciting to emerge.

Good times.

7 thoughts on “Changing Plans

  1. Smart thinking! Maybe you should find places to submit these posts to?! We just got rid of our land line… the only downfall has been not having a phone at a whim when I lose my cell and need to call myself. LOL.
    As for our cell bill… We pay $250 for 4 phones w/Verizon. One is our son’s who has not used his for over a year and we still have to pay cuz we just stupidly upgraded using his number at the tune of $20 bucks a month with him not even using it! Any bright ideas? Smile…

    • I’ll respond to both here. It would be interesting to get money for doing this. By the same token I am best able to write if I am not constrained by any topic or agenda. My creative process works best with something out of the blue whatever taps out of my fingers when I first wake up. Granted we have been unhappy with our phone bill and the thought and information I provide here has been a week in the making and not at all aimed at writing an article. My theory is to put your stuff out there and if it is really worthwhile it will be snapped up by someone.

      My wife has also suggested I put ads on my blog and make money that way. If my “hits” continue to grow I will consider that. I do like complete control of my little world here where you can listen to me perform music while you read my article or brief piece of poetry or fiction. Just this morning Cathy and I discussed how this has indeed become my job where I wake up, start a pot of coffee, and start writing the article of the day. My “workday” starts about 7 AM and ends by noon as a worst case scenario.

      I was discussing with my son-in-law what a job does to your perception of an activity over time. Long story short, I concluded that I don’t want to have fun for a job because then I wouldn’t like having fun any more.

      I would ask Verizon about the consequences of removing your son’s number from the family plan. Compare the penalty, if any, to the remainder of his part of the rest of the contract and there is your answer. You can apply the same logic beyond that to your entire plan. Remember you keep the phones being bought with the plan if you bail, but then you likely need Verizon to unlock the phones to use them with some other compatible service, compatible to what service, GSM or CDMA, that your phone can access.

      (I’ve learned a lot investigating this.)

  2. Note that the unlocked GSM phone I will be using is my old iPhone 3GS I bought in Thailand. It is also not a long term solution, as the battery may die at any time. There is a new, non-Sprint, unlocked iPhone in my future. It seems that my current Sprint iPhone 4S is close to useless because It can’t be or won’t be unlocked short of jailbreaking it. Which I may try, actually.

  3. Forget any suggestions anyone might have. I found a new older unlocked iPhone 3GS on eBay and that will be my “bridge phone”. I couldn’t find a comparably priced new phone I could feel good about without getting something really expensive.

  4. Jim, your current iPhone 4S has a SIM slot and it GSM capable. You will need to contact Sprint and tell them you want the unlock code for your phone, which they will do if you phone has been in good standing for at least 6 months. Once you get the unlock, plop a new SIM in and enjoy your new network.

    • We tried that and they flat out refused. We have also been to many forums where people are bitching about Sprint in particular and how they won’t unlock their phones unlike every other carrier. It is because of this that we will never use Sprint again.

      Regardless I have already purchased an older iPhone, the 3GS, and I can happily use that until the right thing emerges. I got it new and unlocked and while it won’t take the newest iOS I have decided to not go the Android route. With Android you can almost never upgrade because there are so many phones and until your carrier verifies through exhaustive testing that the newest Android OS will work with a particular phone and their service they won’t allow you to upgrade, they simply don’t bother to do all that testing — buy a new phone if you want the newest features. At least with Apple you can repeatedly upgrade until they change the hardware in such a way that it is unworkable. So with Apple you can upgrade for the next two or three major system upgrades, with most Android phones you are stuck with the OS it comes with. Once again Apple does it better than the other companies because they have a well managed family of hardware that they tend to themselves along with the matching software.

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