In Search of Savings: Switching from AT&T to Ting

I’m always looking for ways to trim spending. Ten years ago we ditched cable for the savings, and we haven’t looked back.

Our newest target: the cell phone bill.

ting-social-logoA few months back Renate suggested we switch from AT&T to Ting. Several friends had switched and recommended it as well. After some research and planning, I switched us over in early January.

The results? Based on our current usage, we should save roughly $40 – $50 a month.

With Ting, you pay only for what you use each month. Make fewer calls, send fewer text messages, or use less data, and your bill goes down. Play around with their rates to see what you might spend.

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Ting’s pricing structure.

The process:

  • Make sure your phone is compatible if you want to bring it and your phone # with you. Otherwise you can just buy a Ting-compatible phone. (We brought our iPhones and numbers with us.)
  • Pay off any payment installment plan for the phone. Carriers won’t unlock phones that are under some type of contract. We still owed a few months to pay off our phones, so that required some up front $ — but our monthly savings will pay that back in a few months.
  • Wrap up your cellular service plan. We were on a month-to-month service plan with AT&T, so opting out was easy — we just left. Ting will also help buy you out of a multi-year contract.
  • Have your carrier unlock the phones, which can be done online at no charge. It may take a few days for the carrier to process the request.
  • In the meantime order a SIM card from Ting for your phone ($9);
  • When your phone is unlocked, activate the SIM card on Ting’s website, then put it in the phone (very easy);
  • adjust a few settings on your phone, and you’re done.

Ting makes it super easy to monitor your current usage, almost in real time. Both your online account and a phone app will show your current bill and usage. You’ll see when you’re approaching a new pricing tier. I love it.

 The only thing we’ve lost is visual voicemail on the iPhone, which… meh. Not a huge loss.

If you’re a heavy text / data user, you may be better off with a standard plan from one of the big carriers. If you want to save some money, this is the way to go. If you’re interested, my referral link gives you $25 towards Ting — and I’ll get some $ too 🙂

Have you found any pockets of savings in your budget? Let me know!

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Cutting the Cord

What We Don't NeedAfter much deliberation, we effectively told Comcast to kiss off on Saturday. We are now the proud owners of a TV antenna that returns five channels.

It felt liberating and absurd, twisting the antennae around and stepping back to assess the reception. But now it feels like we’ve struck a blow for simplicity.

At the height of my media gluttony, my roommates and I enjoyed hundreds of channels along with TiVo and the DirecTV all-season sports pass. Now Renate and I convince ourselves that the fuzz onscreen during “How I Met Your Mother” isn’t all that noticeable. I love it.

Ditching cable is step one. Next we’ll combine our cell phone plans and cancel long distance on the landline. Annual savings: a respectable $720.

But now I’ve got the itch, and I think it’s making Renate nervous (although she would throw out the dishwasher if it weren’t bolted to the floor). I’m still hankering to ditch the cell phone altogether, but I’m too chicken. I see myself sprawled on the side of a lonely highway, lost, hungry and repentant. “If… I’d… only kept… the cell phone…” I gasp with my last breath beneath the heartless stars.

Maybe I’ll go through the closet instead.

What We Don’t Need

Seemingly innocuous household expenses come under the crosshairs in the name of the down payment.

The phone is so pressing, so overt, so immediate, the only socially appropriate reason to use it is if you’re trapped in a fiery building or someone’s in the hospital.
– Derek Powazek, The Etiquette of Modern Communication

ax_sm.jpgWe’re saving for a down payment, and the conservation mentality starts to snowball after awhile. As a result, we’re looking at a few previously untouchable expenses to determine if they are:

  1. Essentials Necessary to Survival, such as groceries, electricity and Blockbuster Online.
  2. Effectively Marketed Products slickly positioned as Essentials Necessary to Survival. These items can be difficult to identify, as they differ depending on which member of the household you ask. Eye cream, for instance, is most certainly NOT effectively marketed. Therefore, neither are web design books, even if they are the second edition of a title one already owns (after all, things change and one has to keep up). A bottle of the new Absolut Peach may or may not be effectively marketed, but it depends on the week one has had.

Something’s going to fall to the chopping block, it’s just a matter of what. We’ve identified a few regular expenses that would yield some decent savings:

  1. Cable. Currently wearing a big target. We’ve got the most basic cable package you can buy, mostly because if we had more, we’d watch more. And everything’s on DVD these days, right? Potential Savings: $30/month.
  2. Landline. Another strong candidate. We signed up for one because, well, that’s what you DO when you move. But the only reason to keep the phone plugged in is for emergency purposes (911 can track the call if, you know). Can’t say the same for the cell phone. Potential Savings: $40/month.
  3. Internet. I just put this in here for shock value. We’re not crazy.
  4. Cell phone. I made it 23 years without one. True, it’s proven invaluable when I’m lost or late, but I’m wondering if the cell phone’s invaluability (it’s a word) is similar to Tivo’s: I’ll certainly miss it when it’s gone, but I’ll manage just fine without it. Potential Savings: $50/month. Throw in Renate’s (not going to happen): over $100/month.

What do you think? Would we miss one moreso than the others? Are we overlooking other options? Comments are on.