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Monday, August 28, 2017

My dumb-phone life

I have a pay-as-you-go phone plan for my $4.99 cheapo phone. When I load minutes, I check online for coupon codes to enter at check-out. By doing so, I wind up with an extra 40 or 50 minutes of free airtime. It takes about 60 seconds to find a coupon code, and I get enough extra minutes for about 80 brief texts. Since I mostly use my phone for texting my daughters concerning when they'll be home each day, this is like getting a month of free end-of-day texting for my phone. I don't want to be responsible for sending someone to a "bad" site, but if you google your phone plan company + "coupon codes" your search should bring you to a site with listings of active codes, plus some reviews or comments to get an idea of whether or not the codes will work. Sometimes a coupon code is expired or only designed to be use once. When that happens, I simply back-up and try a different code. Within one or two tries I find a working code. Last Thursday I added airtime and used a code for 40 free minutes. My minutes cost me about 7.8 cents each, so I got $3.15 worth of free airtime for 60 seconds of work, or an hourly wage of $189.00. Not too shabby.

By the way, I love my dumb-phone. It does what I need it to do for under $10 per month, and I have a nice pic of my kids as my screen saver every time I turn it on. Everyone else in my household has a smartphone, but I am really okay with not having one. The money that I save by using a non-smartphone goes to things that matter more to me, like travel.

Mini-update -- after mentioning I'd added minutes to my phone to one daughter, she told me that she had wanted to buy me a smartphone as a belated birthday and Christmas present. Very sweet of her, but I declined. I honestly am just fine with my dumb-phone. By the way, I'm not trying to convince anyone else to want what I want. My point is that knowing what we want and what we don't want saves money and simplifies choices.


  1. My husband and I share a "dumb phone". Being retired, it more than meets our needs and fits in our budget well. Some people just can't believe we don't live on our phone and why we don't feel the need to have a more trendy phone. Once in a great while, I will get a tad bit of phone envy when I see what all the others can do on their phones. But then I step back and remember how much they are paying each month and quickly remember why our needs are met and the money can go for another pleasure of our choice.

    1. That is how I feel, that the money I save affords me other luxuries, ones that really matter to me. That's what's important, knowing what really matters to oneself.
      Have a lovely day!

  2. Phones...I have a love/hate relationship with them. I had a dumb phone for about 20 years. Each of my kids had them during high school and most of their college years too. I would have kept mine but because one child lives overseas we can better communicate with her if we had smart phones. So at Christmas we upgraded. Now we get snapchat photos, whatsapp messages, audio messages, all kinds of things that a dumb phone couldn't do and it doesn't charge our bill! Now we have a second daughter studying overseas and so it is twicefold nice to have. We spent about 30 minutes on a video chat with her yesterday and got a view of Italy! No extra charges either! We're both glad to have upgraded.


    1. Hi Alice,
      Our deal with our kids has been that we would provide a dumb-phone throughout university years, with a set amount of minutes and full-year coverage. Anything they want above and beyond that they pay the difference. My son used the same dumb phone (and never went over the allotted minutes we set) for almost 10 years before he chose to upgrade himself to a smart phone. And my two daughters have just this past year chosen to pay the difference on their phones to have smart phones with more minutes, texts and data. I view the ability to have a phone for contact purposes to be a necessity, which I'll pay while they're students. But a smart phone for them is optional, which they'll pay. Kinda like when one daughter wanted expensive shoes. I paid a base amount, and she paid the difference.

      For you and your family, using a phone for overseas communication may necessitate a smart phone. I would make the same choice if in your position.
      Have a great day, Alice.

  3. One daughter uses a flip phone. It has minutes for talk/text. She uses it when in wifi areas.
    I'm in a group working with refugee resettlement. One of the guys introduced me to What's App. I use it in communication with him as it has translation, messaging and video messaging.
    The family communicates with their family overseas this way. The Mum landed in hoepital but kept the video part running all the time so even when no one here was visiting , family was with her from overseas.

    1. Hi Teresa,
      I think communicating overseas is a great use of a smart phone, and I'm sure this woman who was in the hospital felt comforted by having family "present" via the phone. Having the video or pictures probably adds considerably to that.
      Have a lovely day, Teresa,

  4. I'm with Alice on my love/hate relationship with phones. I upgraded to a smartphone a year ago. My company is Ting, and I have to say, the hype about the customer service is correct--their service is fantastic. Prices are comparatively good, too. What I like about my smartphone versus my stupid phone--I use Google calendar all the time, as I have to synchronize my family's and my mom's schedules, and this is a huge help; I like being able to Google necessary things (like my car's service station when my car died on the road last week ....). What I don't like--like a computer, you can get weird bugs--I had to reboot my phone a month ago due to this (which is frustrating, as I use it only minimally and I can't figure out where this bug came from) which also means that I have to make sure everything is backed up, and even after backing it up, some of my appointments on my calendar weren't there. I think maybe if I were more adept with my phone, I would be able to use it for more things, but it's hard to find the time (and someone to teach me) how to use it better. I also dislike that services which I might find helpful (GPS, I'm looking at you!) are data hogs, so I feel like I have to balance "how much is this going to cost me to find an alternate route via my phone" versus pulling over and using a map ... for free. Maybe my inner tightwad needs to relax a little, but I have a hard time justifying the cost when I can do things for free the traditional way.

    Lili, for you, honestly, I'd say stick with your talk/text phone. Same with the retiree who wrote in, above. It meets your needs and the hassle factor of a smartphone isn't there. You might want to take advantage of learning about smartphones from your kids, though, while they are living at home. It's a lot more intuitive for them than it is for those of us who haven't grown up with the technology.

    1. Hi Kris,
      My son has mentioned the GPS and data usage, too. He's a fairly frugal person, so doesn't use a lot of data otherwise, but relies on free wi-fi when he can find it.

      I think for me, I just don't "need" a smart phone all that much, and when I'm out doing something else, I like being away from phone/internet communication and technology. And I think I'm more pleasant to be around if I don't have my nose glued to the phone when I'm with other people. Maybe I'll find something that I want about a smart phone someday, or I'll have enough disposable cash that it is no longer a choice between one luxury and another.
      I hope your day is off to a great start, Kris!

    2. I am a smart phone user who agrees with you on not wanting to be glued to the phone. It's annoying to be around people who are attached at the hip to theirs. I was finding that more and more, between work and my kid's school, not having a smart phone was becoming a liability, so I grudgingly got one--my compromise with that is using Ting--a little more expensive than the $8 a month I was paying, but not ridiculously so. Republic Wireless was also another option but I thought I might have more coverage with Ting, although I think RW might have been more cost-efficient for me. I know a couple (in their early 60s) who bought a smart phone and immediately returned it because they thought it was too much hassle--it really isn't for everyone!

  5. I miss my dumb phone. I finally caved and got a smartphone a year or two ago, but honestly, I still don't really know how to use it. The thing that pushed me over the edge was the time that CatMan fell and broke his pelvis on the bike path. We knew where we were in reference to the bike world, but trying to tell our rescue team how to get to us by car proved to be nearly impossible. After that we both got smartphones with a GPS tracker program for the sake of safety. I have to admit, it's a big help in terms of the worry factor.

    I also like the camera, and the thing has come in handy when I've gotten lost trying to find a store I don't usually go to... or last week when I (ahem) locked my keys in my car and had to call AAA. But I still don't know how to text. Anyhow, I have Ting which is a pay as you use sort of service, and it costs me $10-15 per month depending on how much I use it.

    But in general the whole smartphone craze really concerns me - I just don't think it's psychologically healthy for people to be as tied to them as they are. When I got mine the first thing I did was to turn off all notifications - I just don't understand how anybody can funcrion with that thing beeping at them constantly. I saw something the other day that said the average person uses their smartphone over 280 minutes per DAY! That's over 4 hours!! Holy Moly!

    I once saw a funny internet meme that sorta sums up my opinion on the things. It went something like this:

    Explaining a smartphone to a time traveler from the 1950s: "I have this device that fits in my pocket and gives me instant access to unlimited information. I mostly use it to argue with strangers and watch videos of cats."

    Pretty much sums it up! :-)

    1. Hi Cat,
      you have found one of the better arguments for a smartphone, IMO, the need while out biking for emergencies. The way I look at that, for myself, is that up until a year ago I didn't have any kind of cell phone, so the dumb-phone that I have now is actually an upgrade. I did sometimes borrow one of my family members' phones when I was making late night drives in the rain, on bad tires, on the freeway and into the city to get one daughter from her rehearsals. Having a phone with me was important as if I got stranded on the road I wouldn't have a way to get in touch with my daughter who was supposed to be waiting outside, in the dark, near campus, but not well lit.

      Have a great evening, Cat!

  6. I still have a dumb flip phone with a traditional 1-9 keypad. Not impossible, but a big hassle to text with. Thus, I don't. I find the fact that I don't text a big determent. Everyone expects a text including service people. More than one appointment has been difficult to make because we had to use email instead of texting.

    Also, there are a lot of offers and coupons I miss out on because I don't have the app or a smart phone to download them onto. Business is really geared to smart phones these days because most people have them. I know I am missing out on deals.

    Lili, you mentioned checking and loading coupons for checkout. Is you phone as dumb as mine? Or am I the dumb one here because I didn't realize that I could load coupons to be seen at checkout with the equipment I have.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      what I meant was I look online on my laptop for coupon codes for loading minutes onto my phone, as I buy minutes online (through tracfone). I don't have the capability to load e-coupons onto my phone, but I sometimes bring my laptop to places like Michael's for coupons, and they can scan right off my laptop screen (saves paper for printing the coupon). My grocery store allows me to load coupons onto my loyalty card, while at home (through my computer). It would be nice to have the ability to check for coupons while I am in a store, but honestly, that would add one more thing I have to do while shopping, and I just don't have the energy for that.

      My phone is a flip-phone, and I have to text with the 10 digit keypad, but I haven't ever texted any other way, so I'm fine with it, for the texts I need to send. I do have a camera, which although it's not a great camera, it does the job, when I want to record something.

      I think it's a matter of deciding what is most important to you. If you think you'd really like a smartphone for coupons and deals, pus easier texting, then maybe it's something to consider, especially since you can now buy pay-as-you-go smartphones which my 3 kids have and seem to be fine with (my husband has an iphone).
      Have a great evening, live and learn!

    2. You just reminded me of the other thing that pushed me over the edge. One of my bank accounts is with an internet only bank, and they started requiring a smartphone in order to transfer funds to another bank. Either that or you had to buy a special device to perform the same function (which cost more than the phone!) I guess it's the way things are going...

  7. My husband and I share a dumb phone. I have the simplest reason not to upgrade...I don't want to learn another device. We have laptops and tablets which we use everyday at home. We are on our tablets throughout the day, more so than our laptops. I like our laptops for the Windows program (still free with Windows 7), and for getting things done. My tablet is useful on the go and in stores that have free WiFi like Target and Mcdonalds.

    Plus being older and needing reading glasses, I don't see how I can work the small phone screen.

    Hope you had a great day!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      Not being able to read a small screen is another good selling point for sticking with larger devices for doing stuff online, and keeping a dumb-phone for calls/texts. I suspect that this will become more of an issue in the next decade as baby boomers continue to age.
      Have a great day, YHF!


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