Exercises in Frugality, Part 3

Prepaid Cell Phones

I’m not big on cell phones. I like being unreachable when I’m out and about. (Even when I’m in the middle of something at home, I’ve been known to ignore the landline when it rings unless it’s one of my kids.) But I like having a phone when we travel, or when I’m out driving our elderly minivan, so I can call for help if it breaks down.

I’ve bought TracFones for years. Some were good, a couple not-so-good. But this latest one is awesome. I bought it after we moved a few months ago, since I had to change the area code anyway.

I paid $18 for the phone, which has double-minutes-for-life, meaning every time I load it up with minutes I’ll get double what I purchased at no extra charge. I also bought a 60-minute card for an additional $20. Before adding the minutes I searched out a promo code (search words: “Tracfone promo code”) on the Internet for 60 free minutes with the purchase of a 60-minute card. Thus I got 180 minutes (and four months’ worth of service) added to my phone, at a rate of just over 11 cents a minute.

Of course, I don’t use it for chit-chat, so I rarely use up the minutes before the service date is up. But I don’t really want to be on the phone while driving or grocery shopping anyway.

The best part? I don’t get a monthly bill, and the taxes are included. I’ve seen other people’s monthly cell phone bills, and I can’t believe how expensive they are. In the past, we’ve spent about $10/month for TracFones. With double-minutes-for-life, it should be even cheaper.