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5 min read

Cutting the Cord

How I reduced my mobile cost by 70%

The beginning of October I ported my cell phone number to Google Voice. This immediately cancelled my Spring contract. I could no longer make calls or send texts. It was awesome.

Why?

For some time I had been getting increasingly distracted by the various forms of communication that my phone aggregated for me. I realized that the vast majority of that communication was not conducive to getting any work done, generating income to live off or benefit the actual real-life relationships I already had. So I tried putting my phone on Do Not Disturb mode for a month. That was glorious. No calls came through except from my wife. Everything was silenced so I had to actively look for updates, I wasn’t alerted.

Having almost effectively stopped using my phone as a phone, and enjoying every minute of it, I decided to go all the way. I stopped having a phone at all. After porting my phone number to Google Voice (cost: $20 for life) in order to be able to keep the number, my Spring contract stopped and my phone became essentially a very small wifi tablet. But, how to contact my wife, because, well, she’s pregnant so I should probably be in contact somehow.

The NEXUS 7

I ordered the new Nexus 7 tablet. It came with a free month of T-Mobile LTE. It was awesome. The screen is fantastic, it’s speed is great compared to other Android Tablets and actually comparable to the iPhone I no longer used. I was able to set it up to use my Google Voice account to make calls over Wifi or 4g/LTE. Problem solved. My wife could call me, nobody else knew how. Plus the distraction of an always connected phone was greatly reduced because a tablet just isn’t as portable. I didn’t take it everywhere. I often kept it in my backpack which is usually nearby, so it was available. But it didn’t sit next to me pinging with every email, text, fb msg, instagram, call, calendar event, weather update, etc., etc. Plus for now I was paying nothing for just a little bit of great internet that I could also use as a super fast hotspot. Bonus! And even when I needed to start paying the monthly cost would be $30 for the amount of data I was using. Not bad! Much better than the $80+ I was paying Spring, and with not hotspot.

But…

It just wasn’t quite enough. While I didn’t really need a phone, I must admit, it comes in handy. Calling over the tablet was ok, but not great. Every time it rang I had to use headphones, which were in my bag, and that was annoying and distracting in a different way. So, while I felt free, it wasn’t quite the perfect solution. And then I heard about Ting.

Ting!

My friend told me about Ting and how they had just switched to it. I checked it out and wow. I actually liked their pricing model. Getting it setup was a breeze. Their user interface is great. In comparison to the major providers (with exception for T-Mobile) I felt like I would get what I paid for and not be supporting this big network that I didn’t use. So I did it. Since I had a Sprint phone previously, I was back in action in less than 20 minutes. But, with some big changes.

The New Setup

I got a new number from Ting, and didn’t give it to anybody. I setup my Google Voice to forward certain people from my old number to my new one. Then I spent some time configuring all the notifications on my iPhone so that almost nothing alerted me. The only things that my phone notified me for were calls, texts and calendar events. And now that nobody had my number except my wife, those were very few.

I also turned off data for my email app (Mailbox). This way I wasn’t constantly getting new email throughout the day. I had to consciously check my email when I had a wifi connection. That cut down on a lot of distraction. And then the screen. Before I had too many Apps. They spanned 6 pages on my phone. It was overwhelming. So I vowed to limit my phone to a single page of apps. I Before setting up Ting I factory reset my phone to start from scratch. Then I only put the apps on it that I absolutely needed on my phone. And I made groups for all of the apps that were distracting instead of productive, like facebook, twitter, feedly, flipboard, buffer, etc. My main screen now is not even full and the few apps I can see immediately are focused on productivity instead of leisure.

The Result

I just finished my first full month of Ting service. It’s great. I pay only for what I use. My total bill, including all fees was $24. That’s down from over $80 with Spring, a 70% reduction in cost. What did I sacrifice to acquire that savings, some leisure maybe, some time to figure out the best setup for me, but no features I need. I still have very fast dat when I need it, but by adjusting notification and app settings I used less than 100mb in a month v. over 2gb before. My productivity is actually up. I’m less distracted when working, my phone doesn’t serve to entertain me, when I’m home I’m playing with my son. And, I’m $55 richer each month. That adds up to $660 each year. And compared to a 2 year contract, it’s a savings of $1320. I’ll take that.

What about the Nexus 7? I liked it and using it was nice. But, it became an extra device after my iPhone, iPad and laptop that I just didn’t need. So I sold it for what I paid for it. I’m spending the money on my wife for Christmas.

The Moral

I’m $1300 ahead over the next two years. I’m more productive. I feel more free. I’m still able to communicate just as effectively as before. I’m more focused when I’m at work and less distracted at home. I cut the cord from the big carriers and it’s awesome. My phone serves me now, instead of my serving it.



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