This isn't some pyramid scheme or an ad for Uber drivers. In fact, you don't even have to work any more than you already do. It's actually pretty simple. All you have to do is cancel your cell phone plan.
Hello? Are you still there?
OK, hear me out. You don't have to go completely off the grid to still save a load of cash.
You might already be on a budget friendly plan, but for the purposes of this example I'm using Verizon's Unlimited Plan.
Verizon, amid increasingly steep competition, started offering its unlimited plan for about $87/month if you already own your phone (a bit lower if you use a debit card) . As part of this new plan, they separated out the cost of their device subsidization so that you could have greater choice over what you want to pay for when it comes to devices. It was probably a calculated decision by Verizon thinking you'd upgrade more frequently, which would keep you tethered to their service. But it can work in your favor. Those device payments are pretty high, but if you already have a device that’s a couple years old, you’re likely already saving anywhere from $20-$40 per month.
This latter part is awesome because, for people who don't need a new device every year, you can save a pretty good chunk of change once your contract is up. I immediately started saving about $40/mo because my contract ended and I don’t have a need for the newest iPhone. But if you’re not on contract, you could be saving a lot more.
I have a feeling that a lot of people are either out of contract already, or will be soon. That's because the new iPhone is about to debut in a few months and a lot of people tend to sign up for a new contract in September when the new iPhones come out. And although tempting, you may want to think twice about lining up for the iPhone X. That's because you'll be paying back your device for the next two years at a price that's likely about $40 per month.
The more drastic cost savings comes from canceling your cell service altogether. It may be a difficult decision, but it’s totally doable, especially if you have WiFi at home and at work. If you canceled your cell service, you could easily save over $1,000 per year. In fact, if you're currently paying one of the monthly device fees, your savings could be higher than $1,500 per year. That's not even counting what you could potentially save if you're on a family plan.
Got Comcast (shudder)? If you do, then you also have WiFi almost anywhere because they allow their customers to piggy back off the WiFi networks of any Comcast-served household. Presto: cell service. That means you could pretty easily go to a WiFi only phone situation with only minor inconvenience. Hey, it would still be downright remarkable compared to cell service and dumb phones just 10 years ago.
One thing that could make the transition easier is that Google still maintains a free service called Google Voice. It’s an app you can download that allows you to make voice calls, send texts, and receive voicemail over WiFi. You can use either the Google Voice or the Google Hangouts app for these services. And while you can get a new number from Google, you can also port over your current number to their system (careful - porting will cancel your current cell service if you’re not ready.) Other options include sending iMessages through your email address or making voice calls through Facebook Messenger.
Not ready to make such a leap? There are a lot of Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) services out there like Ting and Republic Wireless that only charge you for what you use. On Ting, for example, you can get 500 minutes and 1,000 texts for $20 per month if you only use data on WiFi. Hell, when’s the last time you actually used 500 minutes, anyway? Plus, with the GSM SIM card, you can still make calls over WiFi in the native phone app already on your device. That’s a savings of over $800 per year compared to the Verizon plan. That’s probably enough cash to pay for most of that trip you’ve been wanting to take for the last decade.
Now that music streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify allow you to download songs onto your device for playback offline, and Google Maps lets you download map regions for navigation, moving to WiFi-only data is easier than ever.
Having cell service everywhere without having to worry about data limits is awesome. But ultimately the choice to have it or go without is about our priorities. Personally, I'd rather save or spend that money on other things.