Saturday, May 19, 2012

How we are saving $1000 with our cell phones

P-Daddy and I have had a wonderful weekend away meeting with friends and discussing The Property (I use a capital P to denote that one specific piece of property that we've been thinking about), and things still look good. Of course, no firm decisions will be made until we actually go and visit The Property in a couple months, and even after a decision is made, our move to The Property will not be immediate. But it feels so good to hope and dream!

As always, realization of this dream relies on having money in the bank here. While we hope that the Property will generate some income for us, we know that we should not rely on it 100%, at least at first, so we are thinking seriously about other money making and money saving options, which I'll be sharing as I think of them and/or try them out. Today, I'm sharing one small step that we've made, which is to make smarter cell phone decisions. But this seemingly small step is saving us about $1000 over the course of a year. I know that may not sound like much, but in Guatemala, that's about what we think it will take our family to live on for one month.

Let me preface this discussion by saying that I'm a Mac girl through and through. Put me in front of a Windows machine and I go a little crazy. I've got multiple MacBooks, a Mac desktop, an iPod, and an iPhone. Which means, until recently, that I had to have ATT as my cell phone provider. That was okay, I thought, my iPhone was worth it. Until it started dropping about half my calls, or not connecting them, or being generally unreliable. It's an old iPhone, I understand, but I could not bring myself to either pay full price for a new iPhone, or to sign a new contract with ATT (or anyone else) and still pay a painful price for my smartphone of choice. So we decided to change, and I'm giving an LG Optimus a try with Virgin Mobile.

Here's how it will save us money this year:
$80 a month for ATT iPhone plan, times 12 months = $960
$35 a month for Virgin Mobile plan, times 12 months = $420
$540 = total amount saved on my cell phone over the course of a year
I know you are thinking that those plans with ATT and Virgin Mobile are not comparable, but they really are. Virgin Mobile offers a pre-paid monthly plan with unlimited texting and data, plus 300 minutes of talk time, for only $35. With ATT, our plan had unlimited texting, plenty of (but not unlimited) data, and 450 minutes of talk time. Since we typically rolled over some minutes at the end of the month, we think that the 300 minutes will be sufficient for me. And if it's not, I can bump that up to 1500 minutes for only $10 more, or use Google Voice, which allows me to talk on the phone through a data connection rather than using my phone minutes. Either way, I'm pretty dedicated to making this work.

In addition to changing my cellphone service, we have also moved P-Daddy to a pre-paid plan. He is not a hardcore cellphone user, and we had been paying Verizon along the lines of $45 a month for him to have a cellphone plan with 450 minutes, when he typically used fewer than 100. With Verizon, there's no rollover, so those extra minutes were simply disappearing each month. So we bought him a cheapo T-Mobile phone, along with a $100 phone card which is good for 12 months or 1000 minutes. This was in January, and as of last week, he still had over 900 minutes left. I'm not sure how it's physically possible to talk on the phone so little, but somehow he accomplishes it! Anyway, assuming that he will use these 1000 minutes over the course of 2012, consider our savings for the year:
$45 a month for Verizon service times 12 months = $540
$100 for the T-Mobile phone card
$440 = total amount saved on P-Daddy's cell phone over the course of a year
Together, that's $980 for the year. It's a small step for us now, but a giant step toward our move!

By the way, since this is a post about money-making and saving, (a) that's my Amazon Affiliate link up there, which may give me a kick-back if you were to purchase through it, and (b)if you check out Virgin Mobile’s phones & plans and buy one of their phones, we can both get free minutes! Just activate it online and enter my Kickbacks Code: zuu4Pt94. We'll each get 60 free minutes once you've topped-up with at least $20. And 60 free minutes is nothing to sneeze at!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A long time ago...

So it's been a really long time since I've posted on here! Lots of things were going on, including getting a new foster child, the semester really getting into full swing, and becoming a primary caregiver to my father several days a week after he was diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, that meant that blogging got pushed way to the bottom of my priority list. It did not, however, mean that our dream of expatriation changed. As a matter of fact, we are making some progress there...

About 10 years ago, when I was living in Guatemala, I had a friend who bought a hostel there and made it into a private residence. He and his wife have since returned to the US, and, knowing how much I loved visiting their place when they were in Guatemala, they approached us early this year about the possibility of buying it. P-Daddy and I have been discussing, investigating, and mulling it over, and while a decision has not been completely made as of yet, things are looking good!

As a matter of fact, this weekend we are headed out of town to meet up with these friends and discuss the idea in person. Then in August, P-Daddy and I are planning a week in Guatemala to really check it out. P-Daddy has never been to Guatemala, and I really think it's crucial that he visit before we make a firm decision. In addition, I have not spent a lot of time in the particular town where the home/hostel is located, and I want to see what the town is like these days as well.

So, with this development in mind, as well as with the successful ending of the school year, I am attempting to get my blogging shoes back on! Please be patient with me as I re-learn how to navigate this role!