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Will I save money with a smartphone?

September 21st, 2014 at 10:15 am

I just read a Forbes article on the real costs of smartphones when one foregoes the 24-month contracts service providers try to lock customers into. According to Forbes, the cost was around $450 - $600.

I've got a cheap mobile phone with a cheap monthly plan: $28.34 in monthly charges. I won't be switching to a smartphone unless it can absorb or eliminate other budget expenses. Can a smartphone help me save $50 in groceries, 10% at the gas pump, 15% off my utilities, et cetera?

Anyone have any true stories to share?

12 Responses to “Will I save money with a smartphone?”

  1. Bright Says:

    I don't know if it can help you save x amount but you can do a few things to save. I used Targets coupon codes and cartwheels to save money shopping there. I load manufacturers coupons and use them at the grocery store. My spouse and I use kitty wireless.com for our cellular provider. Much less that the big 3 providers. We pay less for 2 smart phones that we used to pay Verizon for only talk.

    We each paid under 100 for a Moto G phone at Wal-Mart. It does far more than my iPhone 4 ever did. Our child reprogrammed it to work with our provider which uses Verizon towers.

  2. PauletteGoddard Says:

    Bright: Tremendous info: thanks! I knew there was somebody on here who'd be maximizing the utility and minimizing the cost of these electronics.

  3. PauletteGoddard Says:

    Bright: I just looked at kittywireless.com: its plan pricing looks spectacular. If its support crew speaks English as a first language and doesn't freeze my credit card because I complain that its payment form won't accept all the characters in my surname I may just bookmark the site and search for unlocked phones.

  4. MonkeyMama Says:

    How old was this Forbes article? I paid $400-ish for a fairly high end smart phone just this year. There are a number of less expensive phones entering the market. For Ting you can get Moto G for $77. (It's a good phone). This is a rare deal, but there are more good smart phones coming out in the $100-$200 range.

    I wouldn't say that we are saving money utilizing a smart phone (using apps to save money on goods and services), but our cell service is cheaper than it was with our dumb phones. It is only $15/month per person. Maybe even cheaper (per person) when we add our kids on. I am sure we are saving dollars and time and frustration with the convenience. Lately I am enamored with the waze app (a GPS app). It made navigating LA a breeze and has kept me from many a last-minute traffic jam with the up-to-date info. Switching from dumb phone to smart phone 2 years ago or so I noticed a huge increase in convenience.

  5. MonkeyMama Says:

    Oh - and yes we paid more up front with the phones but our first 6 months or so of our Ting service was completely free due to referral credits and other credits. I'd say we broke even in those first 6 months or so. We are the types to keep our phones for several years. If you need a new $400 phone every year or two it is a tougher sell. I expect prices to fall significantly before we every replace our phones.

  6. PauletteGoddard Says:

    MonkeyMama: Forbes article has byline date of September 13, 2013. I like the idea of a break-even point in the first six months. I own my phones for about five years each. I am investigating the convenience of having a smartphone when the spawn is reaching the teen years, so moms' experiences are very helpful.

  7. MonkeyMama Says:

    The article was accurate at that time (Sep. 2013) but phone prices have dropped dramatically this year.

    Republic Wireless is another cell carrier that I have heard good things about.

    Ting is only $6/month to add a line. I think this makes it an exceptional phone service for kids. (Even if you sign up for a different service and just have your child sign up for Ting).

  8. Bright Says:

    Kittywiresless is right in the USA. It's a very easy site and I have done it all by email. Kitty has forums that can answer all your questions. They run on Verizon. We started with our old Verizon dumb phones. They are running through PAGE PLUS. They should start sending me checks Smile LOL! A huge percentage of the people we know have switched to them. You can try before you buy. They give you a small amount to make sure it works for you before you pay for a month. You can go to the site and run the esn of any phone and they will email you if it is ok for their network.

  9. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I find so many ways I save AND earn money with my smartphone using a variety of apps. Theres the secret shopper apps, the fitness apps, the coupon apps, the apps that do price checks for you ...and on and on. Not to mention like MM said - it is SO convenient. I could truly never go back to a dumbphone.

  10. PauletteGoddard Says:

    FrugalTexan75: if you want to elaborate on those apps (they APPeal to me!), I invite you to do so at your heart's, fingers', mind's content. I want to know more. I want to know the practical ways SA citizens use them. Thanks for chiming in!

  11. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Well one is Pact - a fitness app where you make a pact saying how many days you're going to exercise, how many days you are going to log your food (My Fitness Pal, another app) and how many fruits/veggies you'll eat. If you make your pact, you earn money (roughly 4-5/week) if you don't finish a pact, you pay money.

    There are also GigWalk and other apps (can't remember) for doing secret shopping gigs.

    Then of course there are the Swagbucks video apps - EntertainNow and SwagTv where you can earn a varying amount of Swagbucks each day. Also with SBs there is the SB app itself where they have mobile only offers.

    There is also PerkTv where you can also earn points towards giftcards.

    There is Receipt Hog where you earn points for taking a picture of your receipts from grocery stores, etc. Gift cards.

    There are budget apps galore where you can record your transactions on the go - my fave of course is YNAB.

    You can also sign up with Nelson Research Mobile to earn points by allowing them to run in the background - I've read up on the privacy info here, and it looks pretty strict - not using personally identifying data. Again - gift cards.

    Then there is Bing Rewards - earn an extra ten points per day.

    Like others said above, coupon apps - I don't know if you'd be able to save $50/month using a smartphone, but you sure can make money with it!

  12. Tabs Says:

    I am going to argue that a smartphone can indeed save you money, but it really depends on what type of user you are.

    For example, I handle all of my personal finances with just my phone nowadays, which includes taking snapshots and sending in its images to deposit paper checks. Earlier on, I also bought and sold my stocks and mutual funds right on my phone since I was very casual about it. This also includes whatever budgeting that I do, all right on my phone.

    I have also migrated all my relevant documents, pictures, and other personal data into the cloud, where it can be shown on any computer, including my smartphone, which I find quite handy to either find obscure information to to sharing family photos.

    And yes, they can be expensive, but the bulk of the cost lies in the monthly service rates, and not really the phone itself. This is especially true if you take something like the Moto G, which is a decent set for not a lot of money.

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