Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tracking the Savings

I did it.

I bought my first smart phone.

I still feel weird about it, but I'm adjusting.

Basically, when I switched to Ting a while ago, I could not get my picture messaging to work.  I never thought I would consider picture messaging a necessity, but being without it for two weeks was driving me crazy.  Not only could I not see pictures sent to me, but I also couldn't take any to send to myself or other people.  I like to take pictures while out running, so I knew I would miss that, but I just didn't realize how much I rely on that feature.

I emailed back and forth with Ting's support staff, who were really great, but eventually I came to learn that Sprint is discontinuing that feature for all non-smart phones.  Since Ting uses the Sprint network, that meant me as well.

One of the great things about Ting is that there are no contracts.  One of the drawbacks of not having a cellphone contract is having to pay outright for a phone.  That means, depending on what kind of smartphone I settled on, I was staring down the barrel of a very big charge on my credit card.  So I waited.

I managed to go a whole month without my beloved picture messaging, but finally, in the span of one afternoon I:

  1. Found a really good deal on a used phone via Amazon
  2. Got a picture message of a friend of mine wearing Google glass that I couldn't actually see
  3. Got offered an extra shift at job #3
These occurrences were the perfect storm I needed to make me pay the $226 for an excellent condition Apple iPhone 4s.  I ended up going with the iPhone because pretty much everything else I own is Apple (which makes me feel a little hipster and filthy), and I just wanted the transition to be as easy as possible.

Now, I'm $200 over on my cell phone budget according to, but My monthly bill is half what it used to be, and I intend to use little-to-no data, so my bill should stay low.  I'm also going to keep track of the money I save via various apps, and count that toward how long it takes to recoup the expense of the phone.  I've already used Target's Cartwheel app to save a cool $.63 and earn a badge! It's amazing how excited I get about badges which both do and mean nothing, so I'm well on my way.

Now I need help from my frugal friends.  What apps can you not live without? How do you save money using your smartphone?  I shelled out a lot of cash for this thing, I want the savings to be worth it!


  1. I can't remember what the details of Ting are but if you're worried about minutes, I would use FaceTime to talk to people who have iPhones. As long as you're using WiFi, it's free. And don't text people who don't have iPhones lol.

    Make sure you turn off the automatic app updates if you're trying to keep your data low. They'll update themselves whenever an update becomes available which might be a time you're not connected to WiFi. The app store will let you know when you have updates, so just watch for that notification and update them when you're somewhere with WiFi. Speaking of notifications, turn them all off. With the exception of weather and texts of course. If you have push notifications turned on for things like Facebook and Twitter, it will constantly be checking for updates which means it will be using your data.

    I love maps and their turn-by-turn directions, but they use So unfortunately, unless you're willing to make the trade of data usage for Siri telling you how to get somewhere, never EVER use the maps.

    Make sure you close all your apps that might use data. Open apps refresh themselves so close them to help keep your data usage low.

    Know that you will use more data than you thought or planned. Once you have the ability to find anything, answer anything, or do most everything no matter where you are, you use it. It's just so easy! So just don't be too surprised when you get your first couple of bills.

    Enjoy! My phone is my everything: my phone, my calendar, my GPS, my flashlight (get a flashlight app!), my camera, keeper of my airline tickets/Starbucks gift cards/grocery lists, seriously. I would be lost without out it, which is sad to say but I've had an iPhone for going on four years so eventually you wonder how you kept up with everything before it was so neatly stored in your pocket.

    1. Brilliant! Thanks, Elizabeth!

      Thankfully, when another friend upgraded to an iPhone three years ago, I inherited her GPS, so even though the maps are totally out of date, it gets the job done.

      One perk of ting is that I can check where my bill is at at any time of the month. Currently I have used some data, but if I stay below 100mb, that will only cost me $3. I think I might just be stubborn enough to make it work!

      I downloaded the flashlight app--my life is forever changed.

  2. Oddly enough, my local target hates letting my phone get reception, so using the cartwheel app is a lesson in how much frustration I want to deal with vs. how much I might save.

    1. I cue it up on my phone before I get there so I can just call it up. I'm wicked miserly with using data!