Thursday, February 17, 2011

Giving Up the Cell Phone

Everyone has a cell phone, right? If you had asked me a year ago for a list of 3 things I'd never leave the house without, one of those things would have been my cell phone. (Along with keys and lipstick.) In November 2010, my husband and I decided to give up our cell phones. I would love to say we were trying to live a more simplistic lifestyle, cutting out some of the electronic noise that surrounds us all every day, but our reason was a bit less noble. It was one month before Christmas, and we needed to cut the monthly budget. Of course, this was a temporary thing. We'd get them turned back on after Christmas, for sure!

The actual act of having them disconnected was easy. We had service through Metro PCS, where everything is pre-paid, month-to-month with no contract. If you don't want service, don't pay for the next month.  The mental adjustment, however, took some getting used to. I found myself reaching for my phone constantly. Even when I had a landline phone easily available, the immediate reaction was to reach for the cell. I found myself running late for work, or late coming home from work, and in a panic because I couldn't call to let anyone know. It was second nature to call hubby and say, "Hey, I'm at the store, taking a lot longer than I thought, don't worry about me!"

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When I'm at work, I'm within arm's reach of a telephone at all times. At home, we found a wonderful solution that is enormously cheaper than a cell phone or a traditional landline. We use Skype, which works through the internet, and costs us a whopping $20 for an entire year of service, both incoming and outgoing calls, and no charge for long distance. Skype can be used by attaching a headset with a microphone to your computer, but we did splurge and get Skype handsets, since this would be our primary means of communication.  We were fortunate enough, though, to find them on sale at Wal-mart.

The biggest adjustment for me was that I had to plan a little better. If I think I am going to be late for work, I call my co-worker from the home phone and let her know that there is a chance I may be late. If I am not coming directly home from work, I decide ahead of time where I am going and approximately how long I will be there, and call hubby from the phone at work to let him know so that he doesn't worry. If I leave the house when the family isn't home, I leave a note-- yes, a note on paper!-- to let them know where I am and when I expect to be home. It is inconvenient that I can't call hubby at the store when I suddenly realize that we need milk, and it's not so great when I am driving somewhere that I have never been before and I get lost. Other than on those rare occasions, I don't even miss it.

I still keep my cell phone around because it has that nifty phone book full of all my contacts, but it's not in service. It also serves as my daily alarm clock. An important thing to remember is that Skype does not have 911 service, so if you should choose to ditch the cell phone service, do keep a charged cell phone around, just in case. Even with no service, a charged cell phone will be able to complete a call to 911.By using it as an alarm clock, it ensures that I do keep it charged and handy. Safety first, you know.

What started out as a temporary act of frugality has become a normal way of life. We could turn our cell phones back on. As it turns out, we're fine without them! It is fun to see the look of surprise on the faces of our friends when we explain that we will meet them at the restaurant, but that they should come on in and look for us in the dining room, because we won't be calling them when we get there. They cannot fathom how we get through life without cell phones! We just smile. We're doing okay.


  1. i recently downgraded from my android back to a regular LG Lotus. No internet, just talk and texts. Boyfriend and I recently moved from chicago to cincinnati so GPS for me was crucial.. then my boyfriend said "we can always get u an actual gps for the car" and suddenly i felt so silly. Instead of paying 120 a month I'm now down to 50 (like you, I did it to save money) unlike u i dont think i can ditch it altogether lol but perhaps someday! At least till our debts cleared it may be a good idea. Thanks for posting this!!

  2. we are also evaluating how much we spend on stuff like this that feels essential, but really isn't. Currently on the table is cable/satalite. By connecting the computer to the TV we can watch all our shows from either netflicks or the company sites (abc, nbc etc) for so much less.

  3. Frances-- from $120 to $50 was definitely a worthy savings!

    OQ, we did that as well. We did keep basic cable, because when you subscribe to it in addition to high speed internet, it's only $4 more than just the internet. But it's bare-bones channels. We end up using the computer as well. I do miss watching Animal Planet and *sheepish grin* Spongebob.