My Plan to Give Up Cell Phone Companies, Make Free Calls and Save Tons of Cash

IMG_9475This month my cell phone contract with AT&T is up for renewal, and instead of getting a new device and committing to pay them $75 dollars a month for another two years, I am cancelling my cell phone service with them. That’s right. I will kick AT&T out of my house.


I have a smart phone; an iPhone 4S, to be exact. I set up a FREE Google voice number. There are a number of apps available for placing free phone calls with a google voice number. Starting out, I’m trying Talkatone. As long as I’m on wifi, I can make calls for free. If I miss a call when I’m off wifi, Google voice will alert me to messages and will even email me transcripts of my voicemails. I can check messages and return calls once I’m on wifi again.

Wifi hotspots are everywhere these days. I live in an urban area with Starbucks and McDonalds everywhere…if I want to check in with Matt at work or change the time for a playdate, all I have to do is swing into a parking lot or grab a quick coffee and take care of my messages. Also, if I NEED to make a call, I can always ask to borrow a landline! Isn’t that what people used to do?


When I’m on wifi, I can iMessage other apple users. For free. And nothing will change for any of my family or friends that want to message me through iMessage. IF I’m away from wifi, I’ll just get the messages once I get back in range of service.

For non-iPhone users, I can use talkatone or kik or any number of other apps to send text messages for free.

Also, email is an easy and reliable way to communicate on a smart phone, as I can read email messages as easily as I can read texts.


Whenever I’m at home, I’m on wifi and can make a call if need be. If the wifi is down (which might happen once a year), I can use my neighbor’s phone. No big deal.

Whenever I’m out alone with Phoebe, I only ever drive around town to go to parks or run errands. I can handle most inconveniences on my own. If I had a true emergency, there are so many businesses and people around, I’m sure someone would be happy to assist. That’s what people do.

When we go on trips or on longer drives, it’s very rare that Matt isn’t with us, and he has a cell phone for work. So, for instance, when we go on our cross country roadtrip, we will already have one cell phone. We don’t need two.


I’m not worried about getting lost or finding new places. I’m going to look for a mapping app to see if I can download local maps onto my phone that I could access without data or internet. If not, though, I’ll just buy a map for the local area. That’s what I did when I first moved to Tacoma, before I had a smart phone.

If I get lost, I’ll do what former generations would have done: I’ll pull over and ask for directions.


I will lose my cell phone number. Instead, I will need to change all my accounts to reflect my new Google Voice number. That IS quite a hassle.


I emailed all of you my new Google Voice number. If I did NOT email you, please shoot me an email…I could not find everyone’s email address. If we know each other, please assume I DO want you to have my number. I am NOt trying to become a hermit. I am NOT trying to avoid people by canceling my cell phone coverage.



I want to save money.

More than that, I don’t like cell phone companies. Specifically, I do not like AT&T. Many customer service representatives and sales representatives that I have encountered have been misinformed, uncooperative, more concerned about commissions, or have outright lied about information pertaining to their service or my bill. The cell phone companies always have unexpected fees and overage charges. And YES. That is the way they do business. And that is their prerogative. But I still don’t like it.

This is my way of DOING something about it.

This is my way of saving money so that my family can pay for things we truly NEED, like clothes or quality food or tools for the yard.

This is my attempt at removing some of the clutter from my life.

This is a statement of faith to myself that we will be OK without a digital safetynet.

I will still talk and text and email. I will still be on twitter and instagram. I will not be going away. I will just be taking advantage of the awesome piece of technology i own, my iPhone, and using it to it’s fullest potential to work around the cell phone provider industry.


I don’t know. At this point, I think I’ll do it for 3 months or for a year. But every month I go without a cell phone bill is $75 in the bank that we can use for other things. So we’ll see how it goes. I’ll blog updates and my experiences as I have new ones to share, and I’ll try to remember to tag the posts with “Cell Bill Free” so you can easily find them. I invite you to ask me any questions you have. ^_^ I want to be an open book about this experience so that I can inspire others!




11 Responses to My Plan to Give Up Cell Phone Companies, Make Free Calls and Save Tons of Cash

  1. Diana @ frontyardfoodie May 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    Work it!!

    I’m not with AT&T but T-Mobile pissed me off enough times that I didn’t want a contract either. I already use Google Voice so that wasn’t an issue and I decided to do prepaid month to month. It’s sooo nice! And yes, wifi is everywhere. I do get 4g but no data unless I’m on wifi so similar.

    I hope it works out for you!

    • ekwetzel May 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      I’d love to hear more about your experience…how it works practically. Are you happy with the month-to-month plan? Is it through T-Mobile?

  2. Leasa May 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Super curious! I look forward to reading about it

  3. Randy May 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    I don’t remember if you got cable in the house. If you did and ever want to try dropping cable as well I finally have an antenna I’m happy with for over the air channels. 17 stations, of which at least 7 are in hd (1080i or 720p), and no bill to pay for it. (well, commercials are kind of a bill but not one out of my pocket.)

    • ekwetzel May 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

      🙂 We haven’t ever had cable! I love being cable-free!

      • Ashley May 27, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

        Netflix and Hulu have a good selection of shows and movies. And what isn’t there you probably find online anyway…

  4. JD May 8, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    I’m sure you’ll find it’s easy and no big deal. Great way to save some cash and not be so tied to a cell phone.

  5. Cedar May 8, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    Erin, Thank you for letting me know about google voice! My cell phone plan is up in about 5 weeks, and the husband and I are planning on doing the same. We were thinking of going back to dumb phones (not smart!), but I love this option!

  6. Sherri Erickson May 11, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    I love what you said about getting lost. Asking for directions is a “lost” art. I commend you for bringing it back. I have another friend who says that the ease of looking things up on the internet has reduced people talking to each other. She doesn’t have to ask a neighbor how to do a certain household repair. Now she can just “Google it”. But she feels less connected to her community.

    I’m proud of you for taking this step and I’m curious to experience your adventure vicariously!

  7. Beth June 21, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    This is cool. I wish I could do the same but a) I’m a chicken and b) the wi-fi in our home is inconsistent. 🙁 I have a hard time getting a signal in our back bedrooms.

    I remember printing google maps when I was heading to a new location. That wasn’t that long ago. And somehow it’s already become a scary thought to be ‘disconnected’.

    I’m very interested to hear your reviews and experience. This seems like a very viable option for cutting out ‘big business’ and saving some bucks.

  8. Johnny August 11, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    The only thing you have to do is to switch
    your cellphone service over to our. You also can
    pay $149.00 a year. The main thing you may
    want to know is that we pay you $20.00 a
    month for every three people that switch their cellphone service to our $49.00 a month unlimited Data, Talk,
    and Text. There is no contract, no credit check,
    no activation fee. If you get nine people To switch,
    we pay you $60.00 every month that they stay with
    our plan. You also get paid when they get people
    to switch to our service.