Contract Cutters

With all the talk of cord cutters over the past several years I have got to thinking about things we shell hundreds of dollars out for without really thining about if there is an alternative.  And I realized of all of my household bills, (internet, cable, electric, gas, insurance, cell phone, etc “excluding student loans”) my cell phone bill was the highest.  AT&T was getting $150/month of my money ($1,800/yr).

When i first assessed this, there wasn’t really all that much I could do, other than switch to a lesser carrier.  Then came the family plans.  I started to run the numbers on switching and realized that it would raise my bill by about $15/mo.  So I didn’t bother.

AT&T Next and Family Plans

A bit later yet, I decided to look into not doing the full 2 year contracts.  This is great, I can have even newer and newer models all the time.  Up to this point I have unlimited data on my device and my wife has 3GB/mo.  The family plan that looked like it would suite us would be the 10GB/mo shared (and a bonus, we get internet sharing, a feature I wanted but did not want to pay for).  At the end of the day I would be losing my unlimited, my wife would have more data, we would get internet sharing, but we would be paying ~$15/mo ($165/mo | $1,980/yr).

At the time I wasn’t really interested in any of the new models of phones.  My wife’s 920 was starting to age a bit but still in good shape, but overall we had no need to change devices.  And I started to look at my pricing options.

  1. Same old contract $40/phone – $100-20% = $80/mo + 2 phones($40ea) = $160/mo
  2. NEXT $15/phone (plus $5~$50 extra per phone) – $80/mo + 2 phones($15) = $110/mo + ($10-$100) $120-$220/mo
  3. Off Contract $15/phone – $80/mo + 2 phones($15) = $110/mo

Let’s Look at the Numbers by Life of Device/Contract

My current plan is to try to make devices last 3years (or more) and spend no more than $300 on the device.  So lets look at the number.  I’ll base my NEXT off of the most comparable option the 24mo (30 installments) with cheapest iphone6

  1. Off Contract – $110/mo x 36mos + $600($300/device) = $4,560 ($760/yr per line)
  2. Same Old – $160/mo x 36mos + $2($1/device avg) = $5,762 ($960/yr per line)
  3. NEXT – $140/mo x 30mos + ($110 6 remaining) = $4,860 ($810/yr per line)

Now the next can vary a bunch because you can, instead of paying the last 6 installments, give your phone back to AT&T (if it is in perfect condition).  Also that is an iphone 5c so prices can go way up from there.  The normal contract is more expensive than NEXT here because that 3rd year you are still paying $40/device even tho you are out of contract.  Even at it’s worst this saves me $100/year.  And realistically, our devices will last more than 3 years, we don’t spend $300 on them and I can repair many things myself or we have cheap backup devices.  Since we buy used/mid range deviced I priced the 2 yr contract + NEXT with last year models/cheaper devices.  If you bump up to current models that price goes up fast.  This does assume you do not upgrade at 24 or even 30 on the NEXT plan, if you do then obviously the price will go up.

Conclusion

Of course this isn’t for everyone.  Some people are perfectly happy paying a hefty price to make sure they have the latest and greatest.  That’s not me.  Also, I am not afraid to get on ebay/cl to pick up some used devices to use for parts when need be.  In fact, when my phone breaks I usually get it fixed for free or even make money selling the spare parts.  The whole point of the article is just that, now we have much more control in how much we pay for our cell phone bill.  You can drastically lower your bill without lessening your experience by much.  I simply buy used phones or just mid tier models rather than the premium devices.  I never have been one to need the most expensive of anything and luckily my wife likes saving money more than she likes showing off what her phone can do.

Google Wants Data Not Users

In this day in age, I do not understand how people can support Google. They are easily the worst company when it comes to reasoning for it’s products. They will, and do, axe any product that does not mine enough of your personal data as it can. The will not keep a product alive because it makes them money and makes users happy if it isn’t harvesting the sufficient amount of data. Continue reading “Google Wants Data Not Users”

Windows Phone 8.1 AT&T and Verizon Issues

Not sure if anyone else is having this issue but I thought I should throw it up here to maybe find out. The rooms in Windows Phone 8 are a great feature which my family, friends and I use quite often. We use them for easily shared calendars and pictures mostly but then also some group messaging. One of the family members in our room is on Verizon, where the rest of the room is all on AT&T. Continue reading “Windows Phone 8.1 AT&T and Verizon Issues”

One Simple Trick to Help Manage and Find Photos in Your Collection

So you have gotten used to having a nice digital camera or even just a better camera on your smart phone. AWESOME! But when you want to try to find that great picture you took that one weekend when you were out a year or 2 years ago you have to search through thousands or maybe tens-hundreds of thousands of pictures.

Continue reading “One Simple Trick to Help Manage and Find Photos in Your Collection”

Custom Tiles–Updates and New Features

One thing that people saw about Windows Phone sometimes, is that it is not very customizable.  While I disagree whole heartedly, I also like to make it a little simpler for people to add customizations to their Windows Phone devices.  With my Custom Tiles web app you have customizability that no other phone has.  You can add a lot of color, custom icons, and custom text to your WP home screen while also making them work as useful links to the websites that you use everyday.

 

Continue reading “Custom Tiles–Updates and New Features”

Epic Green Chili

This chili has completely been an experiment and it actually isn’t even done yet. It is simmering but man it smells and tastes good so far. First off, I love cooking and I love chili. Also, if you love to follow recipes to a T you might not want to try this as I don’t follow recipes ever. I have always made my dad’s pretty standard chili relying heavily on chili powder, but over the last year or 2 I have really wanted to wean myself off of chili powder. I have done pretty well with my last few patches and incorporated things like turmeric which has been awesome.

Healthy Green Chili Experiment

You can use any meat you want or no meat with this recipe, but I am using a deer and pork mixture of about 90:10. So largely deer. Mostly a little pork for some fat.

Ingredients

  • 2lbs deer, pork mix (use whatever you want)
  • 4 cans of beans (1 kidney, 1 chili, 2 great northern)
  • 4 bell peppers (I did 1 of each; green, red, orange, yellow)
  • 1 large onion
  • 3T olive oil
  • 2 Jalapenos
  • 6 garlic cloves (or more if you like)
  • 3 zucchini
  • 6-7 large celery stalks
  • 2 15oz cans of diced tomato
  • 2-3 cups of spinach (pureed with northern beans)
  • 2-4 cups of water
  • Frozen corn (or canned if you want and as much as you like or have room for)

Spices

  • Cinnamon
  • Ground Cloves
  • Turmeric
  • Garlic Salt
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Paprika
  • Preparation

    You will want to coarsely chop up the veggies and while doing so you can be browning your meat with the olive oil, garlic, and some water. After the meat is close to being done browning add the spices in. I do anywhere from a tablespoon to 2 of each of the spices other than, garlic salt, and oregano, they both had about 3T. Just let that cook until it smells good, and while that is happening puree 2 cans of the northern beans (or whatever you want) with the spinach. Either don’t drain or add some water. Add the puree to the meat and stir. Then add the veggies.

    Now it is just a waiting game of letting it cook. At this time I am tasting and tweaking the spices which I added most of the tweaks in the previous additions already. Let it cook/simmer for about an hour probably. Pull it off whenever the veggies are tender, I am guessing about an hour.

    Enjoy and tweak

    Wireless Charging Is So Close To Being Useful

    Right now we are seeing wireless charging in some of our shiny new smartphones. Some people say it isn’t really wireless blah blah, it is, but it isn’t terribly useful in most situations because you do have the cord for the pad. So lets get rid of that cord.

    We Should Start Seeing Difference Surfaces With Built In Wireless Charging/Power

    The future of wireless charging/power is in many different surfaces. We are already starting to see cars that are equipped with wireless charging which is very useful. If it works like the JBL Nokia Speaker Dock where the NFC also initiates the BT connection to start music playback (or at least I assume that is how it works) then it will be awesome.

    But how great would it also be if when we walk into work and sit down at our desks we could just set our phone down on the desktop and it would charge? Instead of having to have a wired charging pad the wires are all hidden away somewhere and the desk itself is plugged in.

    Let’s Take Wireless Charging Into The Bathroom

    Now lets imagine that our bathroom countertop is connected into our homes power and the whole surface is capable of wireless charging. Now you can have your toothbrush, shaver, detailer, or even wireless straighteners, curlers, etc all charged up without wires. I don’t know about you but the car and bathroom are two of the most annoying places to have multiple wires hanging around.

    Wireless Charging In The Living Room

    This one seems it might be a bit trickier as you likely don’t have standard built in that you put your devices on. Instead a lot of tend to put our devices on coffee tables and end tables. So maybe we have a retractable cord on our coffee table that we can plug in when we need it and have our laptop, tablet, or phone just sitting on the coffee table charging. Or if we get really extreme have our floor setup for wireless charging and the coffee table serve as a sort of pass-through that can bring it up to the level. Hopefully by that point we have wireless charging that has a longer range but still an idea.

    Another Exciting Use of Wireless Power is The Kitchen

    Here I am talking more about wireless power than wireless charging, which I am not sure how it works but just stick with me. Right now I have a microwave, toaster oven, Kitchenaid mixer, and coffee pot on my counter. I would love it if none of them had any cables but instead the counter top was powered up like the QI charging and these items just powered by sitting on the counter. To take this even a bit further, it would be cool if we can get maybe 1-2 foot range on the wireless power for things like hand mixers which are not in contact with the counter when they are in use. Of course these could be battery powered instead and charge on the counter but who leaves those out on the counter?