Cell Phone Plan Hack for FI

Cell Phone

I’ll start out by saying that this isn’t going to be the typical personal finance article about cell phones:

  • I’m not going to tout the value of a $10/month plan from Republic Wireless
  • I’m not going to talk about which specific phone is better for FIRE
  • I’m not going to give you compelling reasons to switch from your existing phone plan

Rather, I’m going to use my family’s cell phone plan as an example of how you can save some serious money by combining multiple plans into one, which can only help on the path to financial independence.

7 Lines, 4 Households, 2 States

Our family’s cell phone plan is comprised of 7 smartphones on a mobile share plan with AT&T.  We have unlimited talk and text plus 10 gigs each month to share between us.

On the plan are my wife and me, my parents, my wife’s parents, and my younger sister that lives out of state.  It’s kinda crazy that they let us do it, but they did.  It took about two hours on the phone with customer service on a Saturday in June 2014 to set it all up and has been paying dividends to us ever since.  If there’s a lesson in all of this, it’s you never know what you can get away with unless you ask!

These were originally 3 separate plans (my sister was still on my parents plan at age 28, lucky girl) that cost us about $370 total each month in service charges, taxes, etc.  We each had a plan that cost $90 for the primary line plus $15 for each additional.  That was before paying for the cost of any phones too.

Cell Phone Plan Before and After

What we did was combine these multiple plans into a single one with the exact same structure, but now only a single primary line.  That change has dropped our total cost down to about $220 a month, a savings of $150 per month.  In the 27 months we’ve had the plan in place, it has saved us more than $4,000 in total.  That’s $4,000 staying in our pockets instead of going to AT&T’s.  Using my simple back of the envelope FI calculation, this one change has saved 2.2 years of work across the 7 people in the plan.  Pretty impressive, right?

FI Impact of Cell Phone Plan Change

Summary

It’s amazing that an afternoon of work can pay these sort of ongoing dividends, isn’t it?  By thinking a bit outside the box, I was able to save myself and my family a lot of work.  Have you found opportunities like this where a single upfront investment pays off so much over time?

John started Present Value Finance in 2017 to share his experiences and insights on personal finance to help people make better decisions and take control of their financial lives.  

He achieved financial independence in 2016 by walking away from the high stress world of corporate finance to focus on his family. He’s a husband, father, family CFO, and all around finance geek.

2 comments

    1. I just send out an email to my family detailing the charges each month: their share of the monthly charge and taxes plus any charges specific to them like phone installments. Takes me about 5 minutes a month. Well worth it to save as much as we do.

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