I was unhappy with my $220 Verizon bill for myself, my wife and oldest son. Consequently, I’ve recently bought a used Iphone 4 and service on Ting.com to try it out. If my wife and I are happy with the service, we could cut our phone bill down to about $70/month for the two of us. How did we reach this epiphany? Certainly not on our own, as with many of my best ideas, I get them from an online community like mrmoneymustache.com.
One of the denizens of MMM is a gent named Daley who has forgotten more about technology than most of us will ever know. His site is http://www.techmeshugana.com/ Daley has a great Frugal Communications Guide that discusses options for home internet, phone service as well as options for cell phone service. A lot of his options can be fairly technical, but he does a great job of laying them all out for your consideration. From Daley, I learned about MVNO’s (Mobile virtual network operator) which are cellphone companies that don’t own their own networks, but pay to use someone else’s cell network. The real benefit of getting a cell phone plan through an MVNO is they tend to be cheaper (sometimes much cheaper) than going with one of the big name boys despite the fact that the actual cell service is identical. There are different types of MVNO’s: some are prepaid (sometimes called “burner” phones) and others have a regular monthly bill.
There are many options out there. I decided to go with Ting.com which uses Sprint’s network. I chose Ting because I like the number of different phones they supported and their low prices. Ting supports all but the latest Iphones (5s and 5c not yet supported but the 5 is) as well as a large number of Android phones. They partner with www.glyde.com, a cell phone reseller who sells used and refurbished phones. I was able to buy an Iphone 4 from Glyde for $95 and once I received it, I was able to set the phone up on Ting with no hassle. If you already have a Sprint enabled device, jump over to Ting’s page to see if it is supported. https://ting.com/byod The way Ting billing works is you only pay for the minutes/texts/data you use each month. They have several tiers for each and whichever tier you are in, that is what you pay for.
You can set up alerts or actual locks that will either inform you or prevent you from going over your preset limits. You can place several limits on your phones, so you can have some control over kid’s lines as well.
Oh and they have a referral program. If you use someone’s referral link you earn $25 to be applied to your bill. If someone uses your link, you get $50 for the first referral and $25 for each thereafter. I used an MMM referral link and posted mine and got $75 credit. This means at least 2 months of service free while I check the service out. Not bad! If you want to try Ting and want to make us both $25, here is my referral link: https://zin50p2i2b7.ting.com/
Data: If you are a huge data hog, there may be cheaper options for you to get the data you need. If you go on a data diet, this can be a good option. I find that most times I want to use my phone with data, there is wifi available. Use it
Minutes: If you use your phone continuously for random chatting or business and burn through lots of minutes, there may be better options for you.
Texting: If you send hundreds of texts, you probably shouldn’t be a 14 year old girl. Sprint Cell Tower service: It may be lousy in your area. You should check.
Finally, if you caught that my son was listed as one of the current customers in our Verizon plan, but I made no mention of him and options for Ting, you are right! He is one of those data hogs I mentioned above, although he takes it to the level of art form. He and I are currently grandfathered in on the Verizon unlimited data for $30/month. His use of this data gives the Verizon leadership nightmares. He used 272 Gigabytes (you read that right) of data last month. Now he did this while visiting his girlfriend and their internet is quite undependable, but still. Ridiculous. He wants to take over both of our Verizon accounts so he can keep his data flowing. If Ting continues to work for me and my wife we will make that a reality and he can take over the bill.
Was this blog article of use to you? If you enjoyed it or found it helpful, please consider posting it to Facebook, Twitter etc. Thanks for your support!by Rich
I visited South Africa in late fall of 1994. I was on the USS HALYBURTON. Our ship and another were the first U.S. Navy ships to visit in 30 some years. I distinctly remember being approached on the street by a South African Citizen who told us how happy he was to see us and thanked us profusely for “staying away during Apartheid”. Really impacted me.
I was reminded of this as I considered Nelson Mandela’s legacy to the nation of South Africa.
Wall Street Journal had a good article.by Rich
The following post is not endorsed by USAA, I don’t work for USAA and don’t represent them. I’m just a very satisfied customer.
I’ve been a member of USAA since about 1987. I have my auto and renter’s insurance through them, my non-TSP investments through them and I do the vast majority of my banking through them.
USAA – United Services Automobile Association, was founded in 1922 by a group of Army officers who were having trouble with insurance and wanted a better answer. USAA used to be only for military officers, but recently has opened up membership to all members of the military, active, reserve, retired (basically anyone who has ever served) and their families.
I believe the main reason USAA is such a popular company, especially with the military, is their world-renown customer service. I have never spoken to a bad customer service rep at USAA. They are always supremely professional, knowledgeable about their products, and are able to quickly accomplish my tasks.
Customer service is important, but the main reason I stay with USAA is their products and pricing are unparalleled. In fact, on multiple occasions when I’ve been asked by other car insurance companies who I use, when I tell them USAA, they quickly let me know they can’t compete. That is saying something.
If you are eligible for USAA, you should really have a membership. We moved to USAA for our banking a few years ago and were a little leary about not having a local branch to visit. With USAA’s refunds on ATM fees, smartphone apps for depositing checks and powerful web services for any other banking needs, we haven’t missed a local branch.
USAA recently re-tooled their website and now offers Mint.com like tracking ability for your accounts. You can fill in categories for your spending and USAA will help you figure out where your money is going. Not as powerful as say a YNAB solution, but handy to keep track of your budget.
Who do you use for banking/insurance/investments?by Rich
When he heard I was considering semi-retirement after my Navy retirement, a good friend and mentor told me I really needed to think about quality of life. He is absolutely right of course, no one wants a bad quality of life. The challenge of course is defining the term. Quality of Life means different things to different people.
What does it mean to you? Is it family? Wealth? Health? A cool car? Security? Vacations? Each person has to define QOL for themselves. At other times in my life, QOL meant a job I enjoyed, a healthy happy family and enough money to live “the good life”.Now as I reach the end of my Navy career, the thing I value the most is time.
Time is our most precious resource, you can’t buy any more of it, you have to make the most of what you have. In my case, I am willing to slightly decrease some creature comforts such as a new car every few years and a huge McMansion of a house in favor of more time with my family and more time to pursue hobbies that interest me.
Do you look forward to the weekend? I know I do. It represents a chance to slow down and relax, stop thinking about work and enjoy some time off. My new definition of QOL is having a weekend every day. That’s what I want.
So that is my current focus. Decrease our current out of pocket expenses, pay off debt to allow us to start saving seriously for a big down-payment on a retirement home.
How do you define Quality of Life?by Rich
I like a sharp looking tattoo. I don’t have one because I haven’t thought of anything I want on my body forever. I’m open to getting one at some point.
This however is a cautionary tattoo tale.
Years ago there was a Boatswain’s (pronounced Bosun’s) Mate on my ship with an interesting tattoo on the back of his neck above his collar. Written in Olde English script was the phrase “Trust No Bitches”. I never had the chance to ask him what sequence of events led to his epiphany.
As luck would have it, this young man’s next set of orders was to a Submarine tender, a Navy ship which at the time was crewed with a high percentage of females as it is classified as a non-combat ship and combat ship roles for females were still being worked out. (I was on an all male crewed ship at the time).
I always wished I could have been a fly on the wall bulkhead when he checked in with his new female Chief/Division Officer/Department Head/XO/CO on his new ship. I’m picturing a frosty reception.by Rich
One of the biggest changes to our flight plan over the years is our middle son Nicholas. Nicholas has autism which has dramatically changed the way our family operates. Early after Nick’s diagnosis I read a short essay entitled “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley that was helpful in gaining some perspective on our situation. The premise of the essay is that having a child is like preparing to live in Italy, you learn the language, get excited about all the stuff to see and do and you are off! When you arrive, you find you are in a different country with a different language and culture. You are lost.
There are some striking similarities.
On one level, you have challenges that parents who don’t have a special needs child will never understand. A special needs child is a huge drain on the family and a marriage. The “regular” kids in your family often take a backseat to the requirements of the special needs child. Your dreams for your child seem gone forever.
But on another level, a special needs child can be an immense blessing, pulling a family and a marriage even closer together as you face the challenges laid out for you. It is never easy, but it gets easier and you come to have new dreams for your child.
I know for a fact that Nick has made me a better father and husband. For a kid with autism he is fairly flexible, fairly verbal and a very fun kid. He loves to hike, swim, play Minecraft on the computer and draw intricate road designs with sidewalk chalk. He used to make the most amazing 3D structures out of masking tape, but we finally weaned him off after we had to re-carpet our house due to tape residue.
We don’t know what the future holds for Nick, we hope he can find some employment opportunities and potentially live in a group setting, but the most important thing for us is that he is happy.
We are looking into options for a Special Needs Trust to safeguard some money for Nick and additionally the military’s Survivor Benefit Program is something that could provide income for Nick in the future. I will discuss the Survivor Benefit Program in a later post.
As I watched the coup take place in Egypt yesterday, I was reminded how blessed we are in this country that despite our differences, we are able to elect our government without bloodshed and without our military’s involvement. The concept of the military answering to a civilian authority is not well known in large parts of the world.
I served for 3 years on the Joint Staff in the J-5 Directorate that handles Strategy and Policy for the JS. I worked as an Action Officer who liaised between the U.S. and various other countries.
I distinctly remember a meeting between the Fijian CHOD (Chief of Defense Force) Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and one of the Flag Officers in J-5. The main topic of the meeting was a discussion on why Bainimarama shouldn’t take over the government of Fiji, which he viewed as corrupt. The Flag Officer made a compelling case invoking the United States as a model on how the military should act, but Bainimarama was having none of it. He had previously “dissolved” the government and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again if he thought it appropriate.
Later that year he conducted another coup and is currently the Prime Minister of Fiji.
On this day remember the relative rarity of a country who has followed the same Constitution and successfully transferred government peacefully for our entire history (setting aside that unpleasantness called the Civil War). There aren’t many other countries with that kind of track record.
Enjoy your Independence Day!by Rich
I work in the world’s largest low rise office building. Despite the important mission of the Department of Defense, I see some pretty hilarious stuff. Due to the security rules of the Pentagon, I can’t post pictures, but I can describe what I have witnessed.
Friends from Facebook will recognize some of these I’ve posted there before. In my opinion they get funnier with age.
People of the Pentagon – Not dressing out for PE.
Remember in Physical Ed class if you didn’t dress out for class you didn’t get credit?
I keep seeing my Army brethren working out in their ACUs (cammies) instead of putting on some workout gear like the rest of us. Now I get it, in the field, it is a great stress relief to do a quick couple sets, but since your PAC membership comes with free towels and soap, do us all a favor and dress out for PT. Your office mates will appreciate your lack of fragrance. Are you guys HUA(ing) what I’m saying?
People of the Pentagon, Parking edition. North parking at the Pentagon consists of a very small amount of general parking spots folks fairly close to the building and a ton of spots significantly further away over the I395 bridge. If you’ve got the time to idle your car every morning waiting for a spot to open up close in, BUSYMAN might not be the best vanity plate for you.
(Posted April 1st)
They have closed off an area of a common area in the Pentagon on my floor to replace lighting or some such nonsense. Semi-permanent walls with construction tape all around.
Made up some official looking signs letting folks know it’s going to be a To-Go version of Buffalo Wild Wings!
Now we wait…
People of the Pentagon high winds, poor hygiene, poor judgement, multi-tasking edition. Today’s top wind speed outside the Pentagon was measured at “Porta-John blown over” speed. On the lack of hygiene/judgement front I saw a gent urinating and brushing his teeth at the same time (not in the sideways porta-potty). I am ashamed to say it was a Naval Aviator. I cling desperately to the hope that he was an F-18 pilot…
People of the Pentagon: Callsign edition!
For aviators, callsigns are cool! The “Remove Before Flight” ribbon with your call sign embroidered on it looks sharp hanging from your backpack. The overall effect is dimmed a bit by the lunchbox attached to your backpack that is also embroidered with your callsign…9 year olds with their name embroidered on their lunch box are cool, Air Force fliers, not so much “Spanky”.
Todays Person of the Pentagon:
I rode my Harley in and parked across from an Air Force LtCol (in uniform) getting off his white Vespa. Then he pulled out a spray bottle to fix his helmet hair…
Back by popular demand: People of the Pentagon – Parking Lot edition!!
Today I was 4 cars behind a lady in a Suburban “trying” to back into a spot. This would have been fine except it took her 4 trips back and forth from Drive to Reverse to accomplish this goal.
In her defense, she accomplished this feat with a cell phone to her ear and with the added flair of a spoon in her mouth (didn’t appear to be a silver spoon).
Today’s People of the Pentagon is Pentagon Athletic Center focused:
1. Soldiers too lazy to put on PT gear, PTing in their cammys.
2: Folks who run outside and then continue their run inside all the way to the locker-room.
3. Stretching in the locker-room…naked.
and lastly and related an important gym rule – The Naked Man Always has right of way…Always!!
I work in the Pentagon. The building that represents the most powerful military in the history of the world. Billions of dollars spent on the most advanced weapon systems ever conceived. On my way out tonight, 5 workers were chasing 3 sparrows with butterfly nets.
Badminton is the official “sport” of the United States Air Force. I have seen several AF officers in the Pentagon with specially designed gym bags for their badminton rackets. I am not making this up.by Rich
Welcome to Chartprepping.com! I’m Rich Davis and I wanted a blog to talk about many things including my plans for retirement, finances, the U.S. Navy, helicopters, motorcycles, my faith, beer brewing and other stuff I haven’t thought of yet.
Why chartprepping.com? Aspiring Naval Aviator’s spend a lot of time preparing aviation charts before flights. Marking the different flight legs, time for each leg, fuel required etc. as well as planning for alternate landing sites in case something goes wrong with the aircraft or weather.
I think chart prep is a great metaphor for life. We try to plan out our flight through life and often find we have to detour our flight path around bad weather or realize we can’t reach our original goal due to an unexpected headwind.
My wife and I are knee-deep in planning for our lives post Navy and we want to share our thoughts and plans with you.
Thanks for checking out the site!by Rich