Bills Shmills: Communication

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.



Okay, let me simply state the obvious:  We are paying way more than we should for our cell phone plans!  If you haven’t already figured this out, let me enlighten you just a bit:

We Pay Too Much For What We Get
In the U S of A, we do not have a high level of consumer protections, the result is simple to understand: when you are dealing with a multi-million dollar corporation, a.k.a. your cell phone company, you can assume that this giant corporation has figured out every legal way that they can take advantage of you.

For example, we pay double when we talk on a cell phone. Both people on the call pay for the minutes. In Europe it is only the person who makes the call who pays. We are also paying double what our European neighbors are paying for the same service. Sure, we might have “unlimited” plans, but do we really need unlimited?

We Pay Extra for Features that Should Be Included
A little known dirty secret is that your cell phone company has disabled your phone from performing tasks that it is built to do so that they can charge you a monthly fee to turn that feature back on. Every smart phone has the built-in ability to “tether” with a computer or become a “wi-fi zone” in order to share its Gigabyte Data (which you have paid for) with other devices. Companies are charging $10-15 a month to turn this capability back on. I cannot imagine how many billions of dollars they have stolen from American consumers who didn’t know that their phone was already capable of doing this. Since our consumer protections are so weak, it takes years for the government regulators stop these corporations from abusing the customers in this way.  There are applications created to bipass the blocks, but for the average consumer this is beyond their technical ability.

Recently it was ruled that Verizon can no longer block apps that could be used for tethering.  However, it is still legal for companies to lock and disable the functions that your phone is built to have.  In the meantime, many poor suckers are under contract for $35/month for Verizon’s MiFi.  If we look at our data usage we will often find that we use nowhere near the monthly allotment. Many people got a MiFi because they didn’t know that their smart phone is capable of becoming its own wi-fi zone. Everyday Comparison: Imagine if you bought a toaster oven but the bake feature was disables and the only way you could bake a few cookies in your toaster oven was to pay the company $10-$20 per month to get that setting (re)enabled. We would not stand for this, nor should we with our phones.

In my upcoming, affordable e-book “Emancipate Your Money”, I will walk you through ways to unleash your phone from the chains that your provider has placed on it.

We Waste Our Money Upgrading
When you get a “free upgrade”, it is not free – nor is it cheap!  Plans under contract are from $10 – $20 more expensive per month.  Over 2 years, that totals up to $480.  Now add that $480 to the price you paid your phone, and that is the actual price you paid!  Your phone was probably worth half of that.  The companies are so happy when you upgrade and sign another 2 year contract.  This is bonus money.
Fun fact:  Second quarter in 2012 Verizon’s revenue from mobile data was $6.9 billion!

Hopefully you now get it: YOU are being taken advantage of and the fat cat investors of the major corporations that you are doing business with are laughing their way to the yacht clubs.

How We Can Get What We Need for Less

  1. Next time your contract runs out, buy your new phone outright.  If you can’t afford a $500 phone now, don’t buy it.  Save up and wait or if you are smart with credit, buy it on credit for less interest than $10 per month and pay it off in less than 2 years. There are plenty of great phones that cost $250, so shop wisely.
  2. Discover ways to reduce your usage with Wi-Fi Calling, VoIP calling, Google Voice or Skype. Call from work if your work uses VoIP phone service.
  3. Utilize free wi-fi to reduce 3G/4G data.
  4. Text and Call for free over with Google Voice and the OBI VoIP device at home. Comcast, Vonage and Verizon will charge you $10/month for this! More details are in my book.
  5. Get a Pre-Paid no Contract Plan. Most pre-paid plans are available online only!  Some have unlimited data, minutes & text, others have limited minutes, or limited data. Whatever you need you are likely to find a plan that suits you for way less than you are paying now. My husband and I each have a plan that is 100 minutes and Unlimited Text and Data for $30/month!  Our Google Voice Phone # forwards to our cell phone. We have most of our long conversations on our VoIP home phone, and we utilize the data for texting with the Google Voice App, email, internet searching, music streaming, and navigation when we are out.  My husband’s phone, because it is pure android, meaning it doesn’t have carrier blocks, can freely become a WiFi zone which he uses every now and then to work on his computer while out.

Hooray! You are on your way to saving a bunch of money while still getting the communication service your need! I have just scratched the surface here in this post. Hopefully you understand now how vulnerable you are to the corporate predator. I go into more details about utilizing Google Voice and the OBI VoIP device in my book.  I really recommend this to everyone who has high speed internet at home. Check these services out!

The internet is also a common way that we communicate now. I have included our internet bill with my post on Home Entertainment.


My husband and I are saving about $60 per month which we happily spend treating ourselves to a dinner out at our favorite restaurants – stimulating our LOCALLY owned businesses AND We also now donate $25 per month to help a little boy and his family in Ecuador.


Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.


About withColleen

I am a simplicity advocate with a love of the natural world, song literature, dance and everything practical and simple, with an occasional flair for the fabulous. I thoughtfully write about life, family, music, solutions for happier more peaceful, equitable world. Sometimes I write from a perspective of practicality, sometimes instead about the big picture. I hope to add to the already shifting perspective on how to live and love well in the world. My joy is my family and music. I sing and dance daily. I enjoy making music with my closest friends and share these projects with audiences. I believe we can change culture with our words and actions; we can awaken our neighbors to their reverent, kind nature. For lasting change we must work small and work locally.

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