How I Saved $100 per Month on My Family's Cell Phone Bill


phone

For a couple months now I’ve been hoping and hunting for a way to lower my monthly household cell phone cost by about $100. This is partly to my new budget work, partly because it just feels crazy to spend over $150 per month on phone service my wife and I don’t use much.

I think I’ve found my answer: Ting*.

Ting is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that runs on the Sprint network. In other words, they use Sprint’s infrastructure, but they aren’t Sprint.

For me, Ting’s most attractive feature is its only-pay-for-what-you-use business model. I’ll illustrate with my family’s typical monthly cell phone usage:

Feature Usage Notes
Minutes 901 We’re not big phone talkers.
Texts 318 I feel sorry for people with teens (who probably send 10x this number of texts).
Data (Megabytes) 378 We’ll probably use less data now that it directly affects our bill.

You can see we’re not big phone users, and maybe that’s Ting’s sweet spot – people who want a smart phone, but don’t have major minute/text message/data needs. Compared to my current Sprint plan, Ting seems like a no-brainer:

Sprint vs Ting Est. Bill Features
Sprint $155 1,500 anytime minutes, Unlimited: mobile-to-mobile minutes, night and weekend minutes, texts, and data.
Ting $55 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts, 500 megabytes of data.
Ting savings $100 Mmmm.

So, I’m looking at saving around $100 per month, I won’t have a contract, and they offer a money-back guarantee. I’m not seeing much downside, except…

iPhone doesn’t play nice with Ting. Their blog says they’re negotiating with Apple right now – they’ve even been bold enough to use the word “soon.”

For the time being, you’ll need to either a) pay cash for one of their approved devices, or b) bring your own. Check out their site for device details.

Here’s a breakdown of the cost of switching from my current Sprint plan to Ting:

Item Cost Notes
New phones -$358.68 2 x LG Optimus Elite (entry level Android phone)
Sprint cancellation fee -$200.00 $100 per cancelled line. Would be much higher if I weren’t so close to the end of my contract.
Anticipated hidden miscellaneous fees from Sprint. $50 Because big cell phone companies are shady operators.
Ting promotional credit $25.00 Applied to future usage costs.
Proceeds from sale of iPhone $100.00 I’ll sell my phone; Kate is keeping hers for the camera and as a glorified iPod. Ting allows you to use your phone as a wifi hotspot, so Kate could actually keep using her iPhone for everything except cell calls (of course that could get pricey with data usage).
Net cost of plan change -$483.68

My break-even date is about five months out, so for me it’s a screamin’ good deal. Here’s to cheap cell service and disrupting the major cell phone behemoths.

*You’ll notice referral links to <a data-cke-saved-href=”http://ting.7eer.net/c/80628/76893/2020 target=” href=”http://ting.7eer.net/c/80628/76893/2020 target=” _blank”=””>Ting (like that one) throughout this post. If you were to use one of those links, you’ll receive $25 in account credit, and YNAB will receive a small referral commission. Full disclosure and all that.