My $12 Cell Phone Bill

How much is your monthly cell phone bill? It’s apparently not uncommon for people to spend over $100 a month. Even if you think your bill is low, I can pretty much guarantee that mine is lower. The title of the post gives it away but mine comes to around $12 after taxes and fees. And there is not one thing I need my phone to be able to do that it can’t. How? I use a company called Republic Wireless. This post is not only about the company’s service and how it works but it is also an example of how to cut just about any expense.

To solve any problem, step one is to assess the situation so you know exactly where you are now. When it comes to cell phones, that means figuring out how much data you actually use. Those of us who are old enough remember an era when minutes (yes kids, phones were once used to make calls) and number of text messages were also relevant but I digress. There are probably apps you can use to accomplish this. I did it a long time ago so I don’t remember what I used but I’m sure there are plenty of options. What I found way back then is that I actually used very little data. Why? Unless you live in a pretty old fashioned part of the world, there is wifi almost everywhere you go – at work, school, coffee shops, restaurants, stores, just about anywhere you can imagine. Hell, more often than not my phone connects to wifi when I’m stopped at an intersection; but then I live in a very populated area. Anyway, figure out how much data you’re using in a typical month when not on wifi.

That number is the key here. In my case, I use almost none. Don’t get me wrong. I use loads and loads of data just like anyone else. But the only time I ever use it when not on wifi is when I’m in a car and even that is minimal in the era of in car gps systems and usb slots that allow me to bring my entire music collection anywhere I go.

So I have a plan with Republic that gives me unlimited minutes and text messages (all their plans have those) for $10 a month plus taxes and fees. Then I have 500mb of data available for another $5 a month but any data I don’t use, which is usually all of it or very close, is refunded to me. The phone uses wifi whenever it can which is what makes it possible for the service to be so cheap but if it can’t access wifi, it uses the Sprint network. I know. But it is the cheapest network and since my second phone is on Verizon, I believe I’m qualified to tell you that the difference between the best network and the worst one is extremely minimal – all over the country and even in remote areas. Remember, I travel a lot.

This is where I have to give you some bad news. You didn’t think I’d give you nothing but smiles and sunshine, did you? Republic pissed me off last year. Hard. They changed their plans and got rid of mine. The closest new plan to the one I currently have is a whopping $20 a month plus taxes and fees. I know. The horror. The good news is that I am grandfathered in until I get a new phone. My current one is 53 months old and still going strong and here’s to another 53 months! Obviously I will have to upgrade eventually. But not a minute before I have to because I won’t reward a company for doubling their pricing. However, the other good news is that a Republic rep has assured me no further price increases are planned at this time and given the way this one has worked out, any current customers would probably be grandfathered in the same way I have been if there is another one.

So here is the way the new pricing structure works. The base price starts at $15 a month for unlimited minutes and text messages. Then $5 a month is added for each 1gb of data. You can get a plan with as much as 15gb of data if you want for $90. But there is almost no way you’re using that much unless you’re streaming HD movies on a regular basis. And if you’re doing that on a cell phone, well, I guess I can’t help you. But I can and certainly do suggest that you re-evaluate your life choices. Most people will be able to get by with far less than 15gb a month and will save considerably on their cell phone bills as a result.

You do have to buy your own phone with Republic. But I believe phones have gotten so expensive that most major carriers are making you do that anyway. And the good news is that Republic has a range of quality options that are also very competitively priced. For example, when I bought my Moto X1 it was $300 which was about the same anyone else was charging for that model. And at that time, it was every bit as capable as all but the high end phones on the market – certainly more than good enough to do anything that can be done on a phone by the average person. Today the equivalent available options are probably either the X4 ($349) or the G6 ($249). They also offer other brands including Samsung; currently they have the S9 for $719 and the S8 for $599. But frankly, my other phone is an S7 and I have to say that even being four years old versus the Samsung’s two, the X1 is easily better so I don’t think the brand name is worth the money. Samsung’s tvs are pretty disappointing too in my experience by the by. On my next one I will go back to Vizio since Samsung really doesn’t seem to offer any additional quality for the difference in price. But back to cell phones. You also have the option to get your own phone to use with Republic if you get one that is compatible. The website has the information you will need to do that. Sorry, Apple people. No soup for you. Then again, if you buy Apple products, you probably enjoy lighting money on fire in other ways too so you likely aren’t reading this anyway. Yes, my text messages are a different color and no, you can’t see when I’m typing a reply. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Republic Wireless isn’t perfect and it may not be for everyone. But it works just fine for me and if it works for you too, you will probably be able to cut your monthly cell phone bill in half or better. Now multiply this process of need assessment, researching alternatives, and making a change to most of the expenses you have and you’ll understand how I live an upper middle class lifestyle at lower middle class prices, allowing me to save and invest a middle class income’s worth or more each year. And that, my friends, is how you build wealth.

P.S. No, this is not an advertisement for Republic, nor am I getting any money from it in any way. No one reads this so there is no point in trying to advertise.

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