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Monday, September 21, 2009

Paying for the iPhones

It's been a couple of months since we've gone over to the iPhone side of life, and we're still scratching around for ways to pay the extra $60 a month that we've signed up for for the unlimited AT&T data lines that the blasted things require. We're getting close.

The first thing we did was kill off HBO on the cable TV. It's been years since we watched any of the handful of channels that this service provided. That knocked 20 bucks off the monthly Comcast bill. Next was weekday New York Times hard copy delivery, which in our favored status as an educator was costing us only $10.80 a month. So there -- already we've got one iPhone line paid for.

Next, we entered into the wonderful world of electronic bill payment. We had resisted this for years -- once upon a time, there was something about the paper checks that gave us a sense of control, and the early versions of internet bill payment had had their limitations. But nowadays, the software writers appear to have the wrinkles ironed out (knock wood), and by clicking instead of licking, we're getting to pay 15 bills a month for free. At 44 cents a stamp and 6 cents a check, that's another $7.50 a month saved (plus a fair amount of time -- priceless). Oh, and throw in a penny or two for return envelopes for the garbage bill and some other merchants who don't supply them.

Long distance voice service was another area ripe for some savings. We were using AT&T for long distance, basically out of spite for Qwest, our local service provider, whose slamming ways and obnoxious marketing people had become a real nuisance back in the late '90s. But by giving in and throwing all the voice stuff under the Qwest umbrella, we eliminated an AT&T bill of about $20 a month in exchange for an increase to our Qwest bill of only about $3.75 (at least for the first year). There's another $16.25 a month for the iPhone kitty.

By my reckoning, with all these changes, we carved out $54.55 a month to pour into iPhone bliss. We also signed up for a neat promotional package at a local bank that's earning us a quick $10 a month for eight months, and so we're declaring our iPhones paid for, for the first year at least. Wonderful little toys, but spendy.

Comments (17)

Sounds like responsible financial planning--I can't really take issue with the online bill paying (although I'm still resisting that option myself), but it is worth noting that you've now joined the ranks of Americans who are slowly killing the US Postal Service. See e.g., http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-958T

Those are really good tips, even if one of them puts the Gray Lady nearer to the edge of the cliff. I'm saving $5 - $10 a month by "bundling" TV and phone services into a single monthly bill. You may also be able to get rid of land-line based long-distance altogether and use the ATT cell service (I think it only costs the minutes you use) or -- from your wireless LAN at home -- Skype's iPhone app, which while not technically perfect (and lately sporting a rather uncertain future) is very cheap.

Jack--you could also sign up (well, at this point you have to request an invite) for Google Voice, which lets you make 100% free long distance from your landline. My wife and I use it for our long-distance. You use your existing phone, and there is absolutely no delay with the call or any other problem. It sounds *exactly* like a traditional call. All domestic long distance calls are 100% free, all day, everyday. No fees, no contract, nothing. Definitely worth looking into.

the ranks of Americans who are slowly killing the US Postal Service.

Another industry killed by the personal computer and the internet. One of many.

Definitely worth looking into.

I've signed up for an invite -- so far, no luck.

The $10.80 per month "educator" rate for The New York Times seems to explain why the Old Gray Lady is swirling the drain these days. If all their readers are progressive educators that agree with the editorial content, there is no way that paper will ever make a dime.

Then again, nobody ever said Pinch Sulzberger was a good businessman.

Wait, you still have a land line?

The $10.80 per month "educator" rate for The New York Times

That's the incremental amount for the weekday over seven days a week.

you still have a land line?

Amazing, isn't it? Works with the alarm system, supports multiple handsets on the same number, runs on AC... quite the invention.

Sounds like some good savings ideas there Jack. We dumped all the extras from our landline telephone and the bill went down about $12.00 a month. In fact, about the only reason we have it is because of our DirectTV hookup. We've been making all our long distance calls on our cell phones for some time and don't really miss any of the landline "extras" at all.

runs on AC

Not only that: if you can find one of those old, discontinued handsets with no flashing lights, displays, amplifiers and such, the dad-burned thing will run just on the tiny trickle of juice coming out of the phone company's copper wire!

We still have one of those. A red one. It's one of them fancy push-button deals.

Have you asked if they offer the 15% off discount for your college? The discount for Portland State University was not well advertised, but when I called and asked they gave it to me.

I'm just happy to see someone talking about the cost of the data plan. Everyone I know has one, incuding stay at home mothers with a minimal family income. I've been wondering how all these people are paying for the service plan! We held back from getting them, but the more disgruntled we are with our crappy T-Mobile service, the closer we get.

We already had our cell phones on AT&T, and so the voice side of things did not change for us (except for the hardware).

I bought a used iPhone (by buying an ATT customer's upgrade when they wanted to move to 3GS). For $25 extra a month, I got the T-Mobile data plan. I heard their network is not quite as fast as ATT, but I don't know the difference, and it beats the ATT baseline of $60 bucks.

I did have to figure out how to unlock the phone to be used with T-Mob, but that is taught by 15 year old wizards on youtube!

T-Mobile will not help with the unlock, but they completely support the iPhone. There are more than a half million of them on the T-Mobile network.

We dropped Qwest and went with the Comcast phone service. Since we already had cable and broadband, it was very inexpensive and saves us roughly $50.00 / month. And, long distance is free so that's a plus as well.

Couldn't be happier with the service and the savings; seems like a no-brainer in retrospect.

I can't blame you for dumping Qwest, and I've pretty much done the same thing as you about cutting out the unnecessary expenditures. Of course, I also cut out cable entirely (my wife's ex-husband and my ex-wife were both television addicts, and we never want to be back to the days where you flip through 200 channels in the search for something that sucks marginally less than the other 199 selections), gave up the paper eight years ago (seeing as how the editorial section of the Dallas Morning News makes Glenn Beck sound rational and sane), and I save additional money by bicycling to work instead of driving.

Now, one of these days, I might have to get a cell phone to burn up those savings.

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