Reducing Cell Phone Costs

Only a few people I know do not have a smart phone. That is one way to reduce cell phone cost.

For myself, I have two smart phones. One has an area code in my home town for relatives, who are not terribly tech savvy and are still using copper line phones. Yep, these folks still exist. In fact, many of my own Seattle-area customers have area codes on their cell phones from their home town. About 60% I’d say.

I like having two phones, because I get backup (on different carriers) and it is handy to punch in a number on one phone while getting a number on the the other phone.

The cost for two, however, can be more than I might want to support. So, lately I’ve been experimenting to reduce costs.

I got a Google Fi Nexus 5x phone for $250. If you have good credit, you can pay for it over 24 months, no interest. The plan itself is $20 for the base cellular fee (unlimited talk and texts) and then $10 per month per gig of data. If you don’t use all the data, a credit is put back on your account which reduces the next month’s bill. Use 1/2 gig and I get $5 credit on the next bill for the unused 1/2 gig.

My friend Karen got a Google Fi phone and because she is connected to WiFi at work and at home, she rarely turns on the cellular data. (The phone has an option to turn off cellular data.) Her phone bill has been running about $26 per month.

With Google Fi, you actually have some control over how much you will spend. If you don’t need to use a lot of cellular data, then don’t and get credit for the unused portion. If only cable TV providers would give me credit for the 80% of the channels I don’t watch.

In my situation, I’ve implemented Karen’s method with another phone. Before I got the Google Fi phone, I had a smart phone on Straighttalk using the AT&T network. That was about $52 per month that included 5 gigs of data. I was not using 5 gigs of data. It was nice having it available, but I was paying for the unused data allocation.

I wanted to remain on the AT&T network so I went to a Cricket store. I ported my number from Straighttalk to Cricket. This allowed me to purchase a ZTE Android phone for $29. The monthly fee will be $35 (including tax) for unlimited talk and text and 2.5 gigs of 4g or LTE data speed. After that 2.5 gigs, the speed drops to 3g or 2g.

So, the plan now is to keep the Google Fi cell data turned off (unless I really need it) and use the data I’m paying for on Cricket. Aside from phone costs, I now have two smart phones for a tad more than just one on Straighttalk.

If you are like Karen and only need one phone, the Google Fi service is a good option for reducing costs if you are in the T-Mobile or Sprint service area. (The phone does work only on WiFi — have tested it out and it does work.)

Buying Local at Amazon Prices

Near me is an Office Depot. I like buying there when ever I can, because I want the local resource to stick around.

However, I’m not always keen on their prices.

I discovered a while back that my Office Depot store will match the price of the same item found on and sold by Amazon.

When I need something, I frequently will look on Office Depot first, then see if I can find the same item on Amazon. If there is a match, I printout the Amazon listing or bring it up on my phone and head to Office Depot with the information. Once the Office Depot staff confirms the match and that the item is sold by Amazon, they’ve always given me the Amazon price.

Dealing with Flash Drives

Over the years I’ve accumulated a LOT of flash drives. So many drives here and there that I had completely lost track of what was on what drive.

I finally decided to take control of this assorted mess by designating a container for the devices and looking at the contents of each one. However, there is really no room add a label or write on the drive to indicate what was inside.

After some thinking, I decided to get a box of #3 coin envelopes. Each envelope is easily big enough to store a single drive and there is enough room on the envelope to write notes. There are bigger envelopes, but I decided on the #3 in part to keep the storage size down. The minimum number of envelopes I could purchase was 500. So, with a lot of envelopes, using new ones when content changes is not a problem. Now I can easily see which drives have bootable Linux operating systems and which drives contain files with content.