Monday, 26 January 2015

Cutting Difficult Expenses: I'll Miss You Data Plan

I'm an unabashed fan of budgeting, tracking your spending, cutting unnecessary costs, and focusing on spending your money how you actually want. (Exhibit 1: Our Family Budget.  Exhibit 2: My Money Rules)

I love finding new ways to make our money stretch further so we can reach the financial goals that motivate us. I love making things do double duty and figuring out how to solve problems without spending money.

Even after years of budgeting, our budget is still changing and I'm still finding spending to cut. As our lives change, our values do too, so it makes sense that our spending plan keeps changing too.

Finding Expenses to Cut

Sometimes it's painless to spot a expense you can cut. It was pretty easy for us to cancel Simple Cheap Dad's jiu jitsu membership months after he stopped using it. He just wasn't destined to be a black belt.

Many of the expenses you consider cutting won't be so black or white.

  • Maybe you spend money on something you don't really like because you think it makes you fit in better.
  • Maybe you buy things you think you should be using to be a good person, but you can't actually see yourself using those things.
  • Maybe you have an expense for something that you enjoy, but if you changed your routine, you could get the same benefits for free.

Whatever the case, often it's questioning those tricky to cut expenses that will tell you the most about yourself and what you truly value. I think the more you know about your true self, the better.

So for that reason, I'd like to share a tricky expense issue I've been dealing with for a while.

I Want to Spend as Little as Possible on Cell Phones

If there's one thing that I hate seeing on our bank statement, it's our cell phone bill. I'm not a heavy cell phone user. I make minimal calls and text messages.
So, it's an area where I should have a bare bones solution.

Right now I'm set up with unlimited talk, text and data. There's definitely a disconnect here.

I brought up the issue back when I first started this blog in my post Searching forCanada's Cheapest Cell Phone Plan.

Shortly after posting that article, we had an issue in our city where our power went out (so no Internet) and the cell phone lines were jammed and I was having trouble getting in touch with my husband. I vowed that I would never get rid of any of my communication options.

Afterwards I thought about it and realized that I was overreacting.

Time passed and I still have that phone plan.

Why is it So Hard for Me to Cut the Wireless Cord? Why can I have no qualms getting rid of kitchen equipment, but get squeamish when I consider cutting back on our technology?

My Cell Phone is a Part of My Life

I was happy with my old phone set up. But when we decided to get rid of our home phone, we decide I should have a better phone plan.

When I first switched to an unlimited everything plan I felt like I had stepped into the new millennium. There was a whole new world of possibilities for me to explore.

I found lots of new uses for the phone and the data plan.

  • When the Little Miss is cranky in the back seat I can give her my phone and she can watch videos on YouTube.
  • I can check directions when I'm on my way to a new friend's house.
  • I can play Candy Crush when I'm waiting for my dentist appointment.
  • I can prove I'm right anywhere.

Getting rid of a luxury that you're accustomed to isn't easy. That's why so many companies offer free trial periods. They know that once you start using their product you won't be able to envision your life without it.

Even though I survived misplacing my phone and going without entirely for two months just last fall, I'm having trouble picturing my life without a data plan.

How do we let ourselves become so reliant on things?

Cell Phones are Amazing

I've found lots of uses for data on the go, but there's got to be so much that I still don't even know about. What else could I be doing with my phone right now?

Now that I'm a blogger, I'm assuming there are things that I could do with my phone to make this blog instantly amazing.  If only I knew what they were.

What else could be coming out soon that will be so amazing and so awesome that my life will be changed forever?

It's easy to panic a little and get carried away thinking that you could be missing opportunities, instead of focusing on the abundance already in your life.

My Plan is a Steal

I've shopped around. My plan is a steal. Unlimited talk, province wide calling, text, and data for $30/month. (Are you looking to cut your cell phone bill? I'm with Wind)

If I want to keep unlimited data, my plan is in a league of its own. I've yet to find a competitor that even comes close.

If I'm willing to give up data, I could lose all that now makes my phone a futuristic marvel for a savings of $5/month. Maybe $10 a month.

It can be hard to know if something has good value for what you need when you're blinded by deals that give good value for the money.

So What am I Going to Do About my Cell Phone Bill?

I'm going to ditch the plan and switch to pay as you go.

I don't want to spend a lot on my phone. I barely make calls or text and that is supposed to be why you use a phone.

I don't need to use a phone at all, I survived without my phone for two months in the fall.

I do think it's smart to have a phone on hand in case of emergency situations. Especially if I'm alone with the Little Miss.

So pay as you go is my solution to my problem. This is how I'm going to optimize my spending to my personal values.

How This Will Affect My Budget

Instead of $30 a month, if I use talk and text as little as I do now, I might be able to get away with $25 for the entire year. (7-11 is the only provider I know that doesn't make you spend $100 to have your credits last a year.)

I went ahead and unlocked my phone ($30) and ordered my new SIM card ($10) and airtime ($25). I'll also have to buy my phone outright ($117.84 tab balance).

I still have 16 months before my phone tab of $117.84 is wiped out. If I kept my current plan for 16 months it would cost me $440 ($30/month-$2.50/month(my half of our multi-phone discount) for 16 months).

Instead, my costs could be as low as $207.84 ($30 unlock + $10 SIM + $25 airtime + $117.84 phone + $25 second year airtime).

I think getting rid of something I don't truly want or need and saving $232.16 is a pretty sweet deal. Plus, I'll only need to pay $25 a year to keep my phone active in case of emergency from then on.

What I've Learned about Myself

Challenging my cell phone costs has reinforced that saving money so we can reach our goals and challenging myself to be more resourceful and creative holds value for me.

More than the habits I've created to make use of a “thing” I have.

More than that pesky worry I can feel sometimes that what I have isn't enough.

More than my desire to get the best deal for my dollar.

What's the Worst That could Happen?

I'll still have my smart phone and will be able to use the WIFI to get the fun new apps and access the internet. I'm usually somewhere with WIFI anyway.

The absolute worst that could happen would be that I miss the extra functionality and that I'll go back to my old phone carrier. That's a risk I'm willing to take.


If you're looking to cut your expenses, there will probably be some low hanging fruit that you can knock off right away without much thought.

Eventually you'll start questioning expenses that make you feel uncomfortable just considering cutting.

Don't deprive yourself of an opportunity to learn about yourself, what you really want, and how you want to spend your money.

Embrace the uncomfortable. Question your motivations. Get creative.

What's the worst that can happen?

What About You?

Could you live without a data plan?

How do you decide if a good deal is a good deal for you?

Are there any luxuries in your life that you think you could do without?

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