My Crazy Idea To Ditch My Cell Phone And Why You Would Hate To Do The Same

I come up with crazy ideas.  Here’s another one: Ditch My Cell Phone.

Why?  $397/year is why.

I’ve been thinking of this idea for a while and even tried out Skype wifi phones back 4 years ago.  I sold it last year for $8 on eBay as it was broken for no apparent reason.  That was then.

Now there are iPhones and Droids and more!  Oh boy!  So many selections and stuff works better.

So here’s my plan and why:

Current cell phone plan (300min, 400txt): $34.98/mo

Actual cell phone bill: $41.27/mo with taxes

Annual cell phone cost if I never went over on minutes or text: $495.24

Actual 2010 cell phone charges: $707.89

My thought is to use Skype on an iPhone, iPod Touch or Android phone, but only in wifi mode.  I checked out Verizon’s packages and 2GB of data a month is $20 (before taxes).  This is compelling and I still might consider it.  But I honestly think I can get away with only using my phone when I am near a wifi hotspot.  If this is the case, I can get a Skype annual Unlimited US/Canada (North US) calling plan, which includes cell phones and landlines, for $3/mo.  On top of that I already have a number for Skype and that is $60 paid annually, so $5/mo.  $8/mo total.

I do need to buy or steal some kind of iPhone/iPod/Android.  My current thinking is to get a new iPod Touch which has the dual cameras and bells and whistles.  And you can use Skype on it.  I have feedback from about 5 people saying they use that setup or an iPhone and it works well.  There were a couple of people saying be cautious and my plan is to give it a whirl before ditching T-Mobile (who I’m on hold with right now so this feels all dirty…they don’t know I’m thinking of leaving…sigh).

I’ve been asked, “What the heck are you thinking?!” when I mention dropping my cell phone.  I do love the convenience.  I’m thinking that I can get by with not being 100% reachable 100% of the time (which isn’t true because I plan to be out of the country for about 9 weeks this year and my cell phone doesn’t work internationally).  I’m thinking voicemail does work and I rarely, if ever, is a call super urgent.  Yes, I do think back to the days before cell phones and wonder “how we ever survived” but the fact is we did survive, and life really was ok.  There are certain times when a cell phone is vital, I just don’t think it happens (knock on wood) enough for me to pay $700/year.

Doing the math: $8/mo x 12 = $96/year + phone purchase first year (max of $250 including taxes) = $350 for year one and $100 after.

What inspired this idea was being off social media, interactively, for five days.  I learned things weren’t nearly as urgent I made them out to be.  The number of people who contacted me via old fashioned phone or email was minor and easy to attend to by checking a few times a day.  I was left wondering if the seeming need for constant contact via a cell phone is just all in my head and if life is ok without it.  I’ll still have a phone number and when my phone is near a wifi hotspot, including home and quite a few airports like Sea-Tac, I’ll be instantly reachable.  And I do spend a lot of time at home, believe it or not.

I doubt this idea will work for everyone.  It takes being ok without instant communication when you want it and most aren’t ready to cut that wireless cord.  Or something.  I’m guessing you’re still scoffing at this post.  Bristling even.

I would love to hear your input one way or the other.  Have you ditched your cell phone for another form of communication?  Do you nearly faint at the thought of losing your phone?  Drop me a line in the comments section below.  Or just give me a call while I still have a phone (but make it quick, I’m nearly over on minutes again!).

11 Replies to “My Crazy Idea To Ditch My Cell Phone And Why You Would Hate To Do The Same”

  1. Pete

    I think it would be funny, since everyone else has a cell phone, to get a pager. When you get a page, turn to whoever you are with and ask to borrow their phone. C’mon, that would be hilarious, no?

  2. Claire

    I’m new to Canada and I can’t get over how expensive cell phones are here… You mean you want me to pay when people want to call me?? I have the skype app on my iPhone, and I’m pretty happy with it. Provided that you have decent access to Wifi you could definitely do it that way – in fact, often the calls are as good as on a cellular network. I only use it on Wifi – it’s a bit slow at times on 3G and I’m scared of it eating into my data plan.

    And I think you’re right about the urgency… Hardly anyone knows my Canadian number, so I’m spending far less time on the phone. It’s great!

  3. Steve

    You can always buy the pay as you go kind for dire emergencies and must call times. Much cheaper and makes you think before using it and oh yes,

  4. sealdi

    I ditched smart phones in favor of low end ones that are only capable of text messaging and calls and alarm clock. But I realized that in order to tweet, I have to spend a ridiculous amount in text messaging, now that my friends don’t call or text but tweet instead.

  5. farca_photo

    Well, in US cell phone plans are really expensive, plus that stupid idea of you also paying when somebody calls you…Pay as you go might be a solution, but still you’ll pay for incoming calls. Here, in Romania, pay as you go is as little as 5 euros a month, and you get up to 10000 network minutes and texts, plus around 100 national and international minutes, that’s why pretty much half of the country is using pay as you go…or prepay as we call it.True that you don’t get any data traffic for these money, but here the country is packed with public wifi’s with free access.
    Ditching the phone is not a bad idea, I am doing that every year a few times, I just put it in a drawer and leave it there and man, life is so cool, and quite without it!

  6. Matt

    You really got me thinking on this one Peter. I use my cell phone more for the data than voice these days, checking email, Twitter, Facebook and playing Doodle Truck. It’s actually quite rare that I make or receive a call. It is expensive. I pay around $80/month for voice and data so almost $1000 a year. When you think about it that way it’s quite ridiculous. I’m looking forward to paying as I go when in Indonesia by purchasing prepaid SIM cards. It’s funny how we’ve developed this ‘need’ to always be connected. The times I’ve forgotten my phone at home I found myself wondering who might be trying to contact me. Definitely something to be said for being ‘offline’ on occasion.

  7. Paul Conrad

    Sounds like a great plan.

    My honest opine is that too many people expect the “now,” the instantaneous communication. The reality is, we all need to just slow down and enjoy life. I revel the days I don’t get online and tweet every freaking 30 seconds, or answer an e-mail, or check Facebook. Personally, it just gets tedious.

    About the most productive thing I use my smartphone for is calling my girlfriend and playing Angry Birds.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love digital and the ability to send photos via digital means. However, I reserve that for breaking news photography. Everything else can chill until I get home, relax, and then download. And then maybe I might get inspired to share the image with the world.

    We rely too much on the instantaneous rather than taking a breath, and taking our time.

    • Peter West Carey Post author

      Paul, I agree with your first paragraph. I don’t think it would be much of an inconvenience for me, but I think others expect a lot when they make a call. It used to be, leave a message and wait. Now you text someone if they don’t answer so they get it quicker. I remember my house builder having a voicemail saying he only checks VM twice a day and he did, for the most part. You expected it and it was ok if he didn’t call back until 4pm. If something was really bad, you called his house and told his wife. 🙂

  8. Lisa | LL World Tour

    I love this!
    Here’s why: in 2006, when I left to travel around the world, I ditched my cell phone completely! I didn’t use it much (don’t like talking on phone) and never missed it! I had a laptop with skype if needed. It was just an unnecessary expense.

    Now that I am back in the US….i ONLY have a pre-paid (pay as you go) T-mobile flip phone. It costs me about $100-$200 per YEAR. I hardly use it and don’t give out the number to many. It’s perfect for me.

    The only thing i’ve thought about is maybe getting an unlocked smart phone that i would also use my pre-paid sim card in and just use the wifi in free wifi zones so not needing any kind of data plan etc. SOon, i was going to write a post about all this and the options that some Americans just don’t think about b/c of our ‘normal’ contract system here.

    I am happy to see more pre-paid plans in the US finally. It seemed the rest of the world was mostly doing this and we were bogged down with these stupid locked in contracts.

    Do it!!

    • Peter West Carey Post author

      Lisa, The unlocked phone to use while traveling would be a good idea. Although some phones in country can be just as cheap. I’m finding 3rd generation iPods for around $160 and that might be the route to go. My next bill is on the 25th so I’m giving myself some time to plan it out. I think pre-paid would be too expensive in my case as I’d be using it for business too. Thanks for the input!


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