Saving Money on your Smartphone Bill with Contentedness & Easy Maintenance

Last year I finally realized how insane it was to be paying so much for phone service. I made the switch to T-Mobile pre-pay from T-mobile post-pay, and I now have a plan with very limited minutes, but unlimited texting and data, for $30/month. I’ve been very happy with this setup, using Gmail outbound calling and Skype to supplement any need I have for making or receiving actual phone calls. This setup proved to be doubly awesome because when I made the switch, I just kept using my existing smartphone.

To keep my low cost communications streak alive I’ve been trying to fight my gadget lust, forcing myself to regularly realize I have a very capable phone already in my pocket, and no reason to replace it. I have to remind myself that modern phones are marketed to the population as a disposable appliance that should be replaced every 1-2 years. I am striving to prove the consumerist masses wrong, and keep my nearly 3 year old phone active and useful for as long as possible.

Despite my intentions, maintaining this mindset is not always easy; new phones appear in the hands of coworkers and friends, and I see shiny new devices advertised on the internet – the world is full of temptation! I have a long history of being a gadget nerd, and it is always enticing to give in and spend hundreds of dollars for that rush of new tech in your hands. I have been close to ordering a new phone a few times, but I have been able to reason myself down off of that ledge each time. I subtly give myself excuses: my old phone takes blurry photos. My old phone gets bogged down and slows too easily. My old phone’s earpiece speaker stopped working last month. My old phone doesn’t support some of the cooler, newer apps.

Today I decided to buckle down and spend a few minutes refuting all of my own arguments. I found a quick guide on how to polish the camera glass, and now photos are back to being as crisp as ever. I found a smooth running and minimal custom ROM that has upgraded my operating system from android 2.3 to android 4.2; things are running fast again, and I can now access newer apps. I researched how to break down and then rebuild my phone, and after deciding I am up to the challenge, ordered an $8 replacement part to fix the earpiece speaker.

I’ve been able to prove to myself that the consumer driven gadget frenzy is completely manufactured, and that it feels really good to actually put effort into maintaining something and keeping it alive and functional. I dare say, it feels better than tossing it aside and buying something shiny & new. The old age of my phone should be a point of pride, not something shameful.

So for now, my frugal side has won over the gadget nerd in me. I also know that when my current phone does give up the ghost, I am leaning heavily toward a few newer cell plans that are cheaper than my already cheap $30/month, but that don’t necessarily allow for flashy new hardware. Both FreedomPop and Republic Wireless* are trying new and exciting things with affordable smart phone plans, and I am keeping my eye on both to see how they play out over time.

What is your philosophy on keeping up with new tech? Do you indulge and buy new hardware regularly, or do you hold on to what you already have?

*Affiliate Link: Republic Wireless $19/month Unlimited Data, Talk & Text

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