How I will Save over $1,300 on my Cell Phone Bill this Year!

Last January, my husband and I started to really focus on paying down debt. We are in our early 30s with a 5-year-old son and we started thinking about how we can add to our savings and really focus on paying down debt. We thought, the lower our monthly bills, the more money we can put towards my student loans, our car payments and mortgage payment. Over the year, we significantly reduced our monthly expenses including getting rid of cable and just using Amazon Prime and Netflix.  We got rid of unneeded bills like Stitch Fix and before we knew it, were able to put hundreds of dollars towards our debt with no impact on our savings account. Actually, our savings account still grew. During that time, I received a notice from AT&T letting me know that my plan would be going up five more dollars per line ($10 total). I was already paying $160 a month for two lines and that included a 16% discount through my job. I had an unlimited data plan which was nice but I wasn’t ready to spend $170 a month for my cell phone bill. That is over $2,000 a year!
I was thinking about finding a lower priced cell provider for over a year. So, getting this letter from AT&T was the kick in the pants I needed to start researching what plan and provider would work for me.
For about a month I looked at a couple providers. After reading reviews on Facebook, Republic Wireless stood out to me because there was a lot of information to read that helped me to understand what to expect. The prices were the most reasonable when comparing plan-to-plan against the other providers I reviewed. When we decided to switch over, we purchased new phones that were compatible with the Republic technology. This was an additional cost but we would have needed new phones within the year anyway. Also, Republic had very affordable phones to choose from. I purchased the Moto G4 and my husband purchased the Moto G4 Plus. I checked if my number would transfer during the research process. We found that my phone number would switch over but my husbands would not. At first, this really frustrated him but after weighing the benefits of the cost savings, he gave in. Then it was time to choose our monthly plan.
So, where did I start? I figured out how much data my husband and I actually need vs what we use because we're too lazy to turn on WiFi.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="225"] Dave and Lauren[/caption] We both decided to start with the 1 GB plan knowing we could switch anytime during the month. The process to purchase was really easy and I received detailed emails each step of the way so I knew what to do. When it came time to activate, I read through the email and links that were sent because it was very important not to cancel my line prior to transferring my number.  I set everything up with Republic to transfer my number and was told that it would automatically cancel my line with AT&T once it transfers. After I got the notice that my phones were activated, I called AT&T to make sure that everything was canceled. Since my husband didn’t transfer his number I had to cancel his line. I ran into one issue, I forgot my PIN number to cancel, but the AT&T rep helped me reset it and it was taken care of within 10 mins. The first month of having our Republic service was a slight change for us. Since we came from an unlimited plan we never logged into WiFi networks. Once we logged in to home, work, restaurants we frequent and the in-laws, we basically never had to think about it again. Only when we went somewhere new like the hospital, airport or a friends house. My husband actually had service at work where I was never able to get a hold of him before. Since he can text and call via the WiFi network he is now able to get service in his office.
The best part was, we started with the 1 GB plan thinking if we went through it fast we could just upgrade plans when we needed it. We have now been with Republic for 5 months and we have not once gone over 1 GB of data. We actually haven’t even come close!
I was shocked mostly because I travel two times a month and was sure I would use it up with maps and checking emails. Sure enough, I have not had to upgrade my plan yet and I couldn’t be happier with my bill! We now pay about $48 a month with tax for two lines and are saving $112 per month which goes towards our mortgage principal. That is almost two extra payments a year! We're not financial pros, but here's a list of small changes that made a big impact on jumpstarting our savings plan over a year. [caption id="attachment_3315" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Dave with Drake[/caption]

Know what's coming in and going out

I started by creating a very simple spreadsheet that showed monthly total income, total expenses, and total debt. This helped us understand if we were making more than we were spending each month and how much we were actually able to put away into our savings.

Cut out the extras

After we saw everything in one spot, it was much easier to decide where to start. It was easy to identify where we were over spending. We saw that our spend on cable and phone seemed too high to be worth it. We also decided “extra’s”, like stitch fix, wasn’t really as valuable as saving money so we decided to stop receiving them. This also held us accountable for eating out too much or unneeded trips to Target.

Pay down debt 

We canceled our DirecTV once the contract ended. We already had Amazon prime and added Netflix to replace our cable bill. Without the cable bill and extras, we saved over $200 a month already with just those 2 things. We decided to take the extra $200 per month and get rid of my pesky student loans first because the interest rate was high and if we did, we would gain over $300 per month back to put into other loans. After a year of putting an extra $200 (and sometimes more) towards the student loans, they were finally paid off. With the student loans paid off, we had an extra $300 per month plus the $200 we already saved, we now had $500 to put towards our car loans. With the extra money we saved from our phone bill (over $100 per month), we were able to put an extra $600 per month to pay off our last car loan and really start focusing on paying down mortgage debt.

We now have zero student loan debt, only one car payment and have chiseled away at our mortgage.

All of these small changes started to make a huge difference. This year we have been making double payments on our mortgage each month and are on track to pay off our full loan in 4 years instead of 20!  And we're still adding to our savings account each month.