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Alternatives to Cell Phone Contracts

Updated on January 24, 2008

Cell phones are almost a necessity these days, aren't they? Seems most people can't live without them and even children as young as six or seven have them sometimes. My seven year old asked me for one just the other day. The answer was no, although it won't always be.

Recently my husband and I needed to get new cell phones. Our phones were broken and we wanted to change our plan. This was easier said than done, we found out. Every single cell phone company we looked into required a two year contract. We were hesitant to even get into a one year contract, which we just did less than two years ago. Now, though we couldn't even find a provider that would allow a one year contract. We even went to a couple of cell phone stores to try to get phones with a one year contract and we couldn't do it.

We started trying to think outside the box at this point. We started analyzing how often we use our phones, who we call with them and why we use them. My husband rarely used his phone, however we did want him to have one because it is very difficult to get a hold of him at work without one. We found that I almost always used mine while at home to call long distance.

Our solution was to get unlimited long distance on our home phone and drop our cell phones all together. We did still want at least one cell phone though, however no contract at all. Wal-Mart sells pay as you go phones, which are perfect for us. For as little as $12.88 you can purchase a Trac Phone. The minutes are extra and last 90 days. We got our cell phone set up for under $40 and we have 80 minutes good for 90 days. I have a feeling we won't even use that many, but if we do, we can purchase more at any time.

The total cost for the whole year should be under $150. The monthly cost of our cell phones was $68. That is a savings of several hundred dollars a year minimum. For us, this is a great deal. Obviously your situation will vary, but it is worth analyzing how and why you use your cell phone to see if you can save money.

Another option we found out about through Alltel. Of course they wanted a two year contract, but they had the lowest monthly rate for a family plan with two phones. When telling them that we really didn't want a contract, they told us that we could buy a phone separately and then get set up on their plan with no contract. Wal-Mart sells Alltel phones for under $40 and if the Trac Phone doesn't work out for us, then we will purchase an Alltel phone from Wal-Mart and take it into the store to set up service with no contract. To me this is a much better deal than a free phone and a two year contract. No contract is better than a one year contract even.

Many people rely heavily on their cell phones and that is fine. We just found we didn't and that there was a better alternative for us than a family plan under contract. I think that everyone should take a hard look at how they use their cell phones and look into cheaper options. Monthly expenses like phones can really be budget busters. Taking the time to analyze why you are spending the money you spend can be an eye opener and really save you money if you make appropriate changes.


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    • jeyatharsini24 profile image

      jeyatharsini24 5 years ago

      is it comment or article?

    • profile image

      JSteiner 5 years ago

      Interesting article. I've had a cell phone with both Verizon and TMobile over the past 8 years or so. It reminds me of the first VCR I bought way back when. I had to have one, and it cost alot for the first, as I recall around $600. Amazingly, I paid that. Now, if you can find one, it could be had for under $50, and it would be smaller, and more efficient. The cell phone difference is I was paying $120 per month for 2 cells thru TMobile on my latest contract, more than I paid in prior contracts, for the same crappy dumb phones. I contantly felt raped by the bill, the inexplicable extra fees here and there, the inability to stop my son from sending too many texts and causing me to pay through the nose, and the constant fear that the phone would never last the two years I had contracted for. At an average of $100/mo for 8 years, that means I put out close to $10000. for the hassle of having a tether, and having to learn to text because my kids didn't want to have other forms of communication. It's a sad state in our society, kids don't talk anymore, they text. The last straw was a text from one of my kids attacking the rest of the family for not neatly laying out her clothes after taking them out of the dryer, which I received at work, during a meeting, during my 10 hour work day. That sent me into orbit, and a series of angry texts were exchanged about how I would be more considerate of her laundry if I was given more consideration with the day to day needs around the house...To which I got the standard "thanks, mom, I know I'm a terrible daughter." Argh. Who started this attack? Who decided the way to use a cell phone was to not say "goodmorning Mom who does everything for me but wipe my butt?" But rather, complain about one thing I just didn't have time to do for HER! Yikes. That was the day I decided cell phones were just not a necessity in my life anymore, nor did I need to pay over a thousand dollars a year for the joy of having it. I have a phone on my desk at work, I have a cheap Magic Jack Plus at home ($70 for the year, unlimited calls in the US-and not one damn text to type). Sure there are emergencies, but there were emergencies before cell phones. My friends look at me as if I've lost my mind for not having a cell phone, and I look at them and say "oh well..." The other issue with societal implications of cells is the constant use by kids to have an ongoing conversation, and essentially another life, while they're living in the family unit. They have no use for family time, and I even see this among many adults...why in the world does everyone every move need to be reported like they're a celebrity or they're changing the world. There simply is a shortage of human interaction. I wonder how kids of today will do in job interviews, will they text their interviewer and say "ROFLMAO, you're asking if I can type, I'm typing right now dude..." has changed, and not for the better...

    • Kenngd profile image

      Kenngd 7 years ago

      all rught.This was a helpful tip! I wasn't really having all the much a problem, but I figured why not give it a try? I usually use my laptop while its plugged in, so there's no need for me to have it set to conserve energy.

    • esllr profile image

      esllr 7 years ago

      I enjoyed your hub and wanted to share that you can also get free bonus minutes and days of service by getting promo codes online.20 to 200 free minutes on the Trac phones.I wrote a hub about it

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 8 years ago from the short journey

      This is great info and great advice for getting out of the box.

    • profile image

      Tristin 9 years ago

      Okay i just wanted to ask something tho..What way the company you had your cellphones with, message me back at, thank you.