One of my favourite money-saving hacks is my mobile phone plan. I pay less than 19 dollars per month, taxes included, for 3GB of data and unlimited Canada-wide calling and texting.
Most people are paying over $60 dollars a month for a similar plan. How much am I saving? $492 a year, which if invested and earned a 5% annual real rate of return would add up to:
- $3,000 after 5 years
- $6,000 after 10 years
- $11,000 after 15 years
- $33,000 after 30 years
- $60,000 after 40 years
- $103,000 after 50 years
- $174,000 after 60 years
And this is just one small change in your life. If you start making a handful of changes like this, the savings really start to add up.
So what is my solution for a dirt-cheap phone plan? I have a $15/month (plus tax) 3GB data-only tablet plan from Fido. Data overages are $10/GB, so this is quite a flexible option. When I got this plan it was open to anyone, but at the moment it is advertised for existing Fido customers only. There are other cheap tablet plans out there. The offerings keep changing, so it is worth looking around to see if there is one that works for you.
I combine the data plan with a Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and texting app from Fongo. Calling within Canada is free with the app, and texting costs $9.99 for 6 months.
Now the Fongo app is far from perfect. Generally, the call quality is fine, but it is a step down from a proper phone plan. Also, the app will occasionally fail to ring and simply show a missed call. Texting is the least reliable feature, with texts occasionally arriving hours later. Also, 2-factor authentication text messages generally will not go through.
For my situation, the downsides are all manageable. For one, I have a work phone, so I do not depend on this number for my job. Also, I find the Fongo calling feature to be very reliable, especially when making a call. I also use Facetime Audio with friends and family that have iPhones.
In terms of messaging, I essentially only use a combination of iMessage, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger with family and friends. All of these apps also have audio and video calling capabilities. Texting through Fongo has been fine for the rare times I use it, but it is the least reliable feature. For two-factor authentication messages, I simply use the number associated with my Fido tablet plan. This is a proper phone number but subject to expensive per minute and per text rates. Receiving texts to this number is free, so it works perfectly for this purpose.
I would not use this setup if my livelihood depended on it and neither should you. But if your phone is a luxury and you are looking to save money without sacrificing cellular data, this is a very inexpensive solution.