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One of our goals for this year and next is to find money in our budget to pay down our student loan.
This year has been great so far with our 2012 financial goals. They included:
- Get our finances prepare should something happen to us.
- Purchase a family car.
- Pay down the student loan.
We've taken care of the first two goals as completed our wills and updated life insurance coverage.
We also purchased a family car this past spring. Now we're currently working on the last goal.
So far extra income has been going towards paying down the loan, but it's been going through waves as some months have been slow. Thankfully the loan balance has been whittling down.
Cheaper Plans for Smartphones
With our budget we're looking at our monthly expenses line by line to see where we can cut back.
Over the years we have made adjustments to our budgets. For example, we created our own entertainment/communication bundle instead of going with the plans offered by local providers.
Not only have we cut our bill significantly, we've gain a system that works for our actual cable/internet/phone habits.
One bill right now that we'd like to re-examine and optimize is our cell phone plan. When looking at plans for our cell phones we tried to get service that matched our actual usage along with a buffer to avoid getting overage charges.
We have two smartphones between us and it costs us around $150/month with tax and everything. Included in our plan are the following:
- 1500 Shared Anytime Minutes
- Unlimited Any Mobile, Anytime
- Unlimited Night & Weekend Mins. Included (In case you're curious, nights are 7pm-7am Monday through Thursday and weekends are counted from Friday 7pm until Monday 7am.)
- Everything Data Share Plan
- Premium Data Plan is required for our smartphones
As far as plans, this has covered our needs and more over the last 2 years.
Coverage has been fine for where we've been. After reviewing our actual cell phone usage this weekend, I see that this plan may be a bit of overkill.
Unfortunately, there is one step down plan we can use for the family.
We have been offered a chance to upgrade our phones (and sign up for another 2 year contract), but we're not really in a rush to do so.
Instead, we're looking at different options – different providers, going from a plan to pre-paid phones, and now with Mr. Money Mustache's post on getting a cheap iPhone plan, we're looking at unlimited plans from Republic Wireless.
I think we may be able to still get complete coverage and services that we need for a more competitive price.
How Republic Wireless Works
Republic Wireless is a new mobile player; their program started a year ago. (As an added bonus for me was that it's a local company located in Cary, NC. ) They offer smartphone plans for $19/month through hybrid calling.
Hybrid calling has your phone use Wi-Fi for calls, web, text, and all things mobile. If there isn't Wi-Fi available then your phone uses the cellular network.
They are a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) of Sprint. There are no contracts or termination fees. Sounds like a dream, right?
Republic Wireless seems pretty upfront that this is still considered a beta service. If you need technical support they have an active community on their forums, but there are no customer service lines to call.
While it appears that responses are given fairly quickly to customer questions, I know some may find that incredibly frustrating.
If you're heavily dependent on your cellphone and can't afford to have any bumps with service, you'd probably like to wait.
For myself, I decided to test the service out by using it for work as a second line.
I'd also like to point out that you want to check for coverage in your area before signing up.
Since we're familiar with Sprint and know they cover our area well, Republic Wireless seemed like a safe choice.
The phone offered with Republic's service is currently single-band, limiting coverage. However there is a dual-band option coming up, so if you want to wait and see, then go for it.
Click on the map to be taken to their site and get more details.
I currently use Google Voice to forward my work calls to my cellphone and it has worked pretty well for me.
The plan is to use and review Republic Wireless for the next 3 months, including my experiences with any technical issues and see if it is a realistic low cost solution for people.
Signing Up for Republic Wireless
I decided to go ahead and sign up for Republic Wireless' Beta Waves. It was fairly simple process.
According to their site, waves are based on the time stamp made when you signed up. For myself, I got a confirmation from Republic Wireless to join up and grab my phone about a week after I originally signed up.
I know there are a few questions that readers may have about Republic Wireless.
I highly recommend you check out their site for all of the answers, but I did want to share a couple of the frequently asked questions and their answers to make it easier for you to decide if they could be an option for you.
After I confirm my spot in a Wave, when can I purchase?
You'll receive an email with a private invitation to the store when it's time for your Wave to order. We'll also publish the purchase dates for each wave on our Beta Waves Status page. You’ll then be able to track the progress of your order, including shipment info, in My Account.
Can I purchase additional lines?
Currently, there is one phone that Republic Wireless is using – Motorola Defy XT. For phone fans, this is adequate, but not a top of the line model. It's an Android phone that runs Gingerbread.
It has front and rear facing cameras and it's relatively lightweight. I would love to see the ability for users to bring over their own phones to Republic.
You'll be able to purchase up to two phones when your Wave opens. You'll receive an email invitation to the store when it's time for your Wave to purchase.
Please keep checking the Beta Waves Status page for when each Wave opens. We're working on a plan for adding more than two lines and we’ll open this as soon as we can.
The cost was $278 plus tax -$249 for the phone and a $29 start-up fee including the first month service. I then created an account online and chose my cell phone number. You can also request to port your number, but I decided to get a new number and to use it exclusively for my work. Once it ships you'll get a tracking number and it should delivered in about 2 business days.
Once you receive the phone, you need to activate it and set up your first Wi-Fi network and you're good to go. There are no extra apps to download. Simply use your phone as you normally do. I'll be checking in on a monthly basis for those who are looking at alternatives for their smart phone plans.
Finding a Cheap Smartphone Plan
I ‘d really like to hear your thoughts on getting a cell phone plan that can adequately cover your smartphone usage.
I know that there are other providers, so please share who use you and how their service has been in your area in the comments below. Hopefully, we can save money for a lot of readers on their cell phone bills!
Who is your carrier now? What's your plan and how does fit for both your usage and budget?
Which phones would you recommend? For those who are on Republic Wireless already, what do you think of their services?
Photo Credits: Motorola and Republic Wireless