This 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.
BUT HOW WILL I MAKE PHONE CALLS?
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?
WHAT ABOUT TEXTING?
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.
WHAT ABOUT EMERGENCIES?
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.
MAPS AND DIRECTIONS
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.
THE BIGGEST INCONVENIENCE
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.
A NOTE FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
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.
WHY AM I DOING THIS?
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.
WILL I DO THIS FOREVER?
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!