As a bankruptcy lawyer, I have an extremely intimate relationship with the monthly budgets of my clients.
That sounds kind of silly, but it is absolutely true. I can spot red flags a mile away and give you average household expenses for various monthly items right off the top of my head.
So, after years of completing income/expense sheets for bankruptcy petitions, I have a solid grip on what things cost. Sometimes, my grip gets shaky and weak.
I am constantly shocked by the cost of living here in New York. In response to this, and thanks to my existence as a bankruptcy lawyer, I have tried to make adjustments to become more frugal in my personal life.
Cell phones, a high cost luxury only 15 years ago, have become a daily part of our existence and for better or worse, an extension of ourselves.
In 2013, cell phones and the contracts that come with them are unfortunately still a high cost luxury in my opinion.
Alternatives to the Big Four
I think of the big four cell providers as Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. According to a report published by Gartner in 2008, the big four providers have almost 85% of the market locked down.
This number may be even higher now as the report stated that smaller cell providers were losing market share at the time of the study.
On the other hand, there are alternatives and good ones at that.
Many smaller cell phone companies offer month-to-month plans with no draconian contracts. These smaller providers offer quality service as they usually operate on one of the big four networks.
Customer service is typically more accessible and personal.
While the choice of phones may be limited (no iphones), quality, current android smart phones are available to be purchased or ported over.
Making the Switch
This past month, I switched my family plan from Sprint to Ting.
Ting operates on the Sprint network and there are no long term contracts to sign with them.
According to my previous usage, my wife and I stand to save approximately $100.00 per month moving forward with Ting. Additionally, Ting offers a unique billing method where if you don’t reach your plan quota for voice, text or data, you get a credit towards next month’s bill.
$100.00 per month is a lot of money. That is $1,200.00 over the course of a year that could be invested for retirement, education, travel, property tax, home repairs, etc.
I like to practice bankruptcy law holistically. While I never make judgments, I often make suggestions on how people can improve their financial future post-bankruptcy.
I think reevaluating the high cost and burden of cell phone contracts is necessary for all of us.
Shed the ball & chain and break free from that costly, burdensome contract and you can start realizing substantial, actual savings.