Fiology Lesson 31: Don't Cell Yourself Short


Fiology thanks Deanna of Ms. Fiology, for shaping this lesson.

Cell phones – love ‘em or hate ‘em, most of us can’t seem to live without them. Owning a cell phone, however, does not mean we need to donate a significant portion of cash to the coffers of the “popular” carriers. We’d much rather contribute to more valuable things in our life like our Financial Independence. There are plenty of smaller, prepaid carriers who rent the networks from the big guys and charge much less. They are also known as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). MVNOs enter into a business agreement with a mobile network operator and obtain services at wholesale prices. Then they set their prices independently.   

For many, our cell phones are our primary way to keep in contact with the people and things in the world that are extremely important to us. It is no surprise, then, that we tend to become defensive at the first thought of modifying the relationship between ourselves and our cell service providers. After this lesson, you should be much more comfortable with examining and considering the options that most closely meet your needs.

Read:   The True-er Cost of Your Cell Phone Addiction   by Kpeds of pediatricianfindsfi.com

Read:  Cellular Service Study  by Deanna of msfiology.com

Read:  Total Wireless…Same Verizon Network, Less $$$  by Jim of routetoretire.com

Listen:  0004: How to Save Huge Money on Your Cell Phone Bill  by Joshua Sheats of radicalpersonalfinance.com

Take Action:  Do you really need unlimited data? Track your data usage and find ways to drive that number down and perhaps you’ll discover you can buy a cheaper package. Know what network you need, buy your phone outright (don’t rent it) and research some MVNOs to find one that is right for you. Worst case, you can always shift back to the more expensive option if you are truly unhappy with the switch.

Additional Resources

Read:  Are Low-Cost Cell Phone Plans Really Worth the Savings  by Women Who Money of womenwhomoney.com

Read:  Is Your Cell Phone Bill Ruining Your Monthly Budget?  by Chris of thecashdad.com

Quote: “Enough is better than too  much.” – French Proverb


  1. This is definitely a good lesson. We cut our bill in half by switching from Verizon and because Total Wireless leases the Verizon lines, nothing changed. Did that about a year ago and haven’t looked back. I can’t think of a reason not to switch.

    Thanks for including me in this – much appreciated!

    — Jim

  2. Thanks for sharing my post! Dropping the every 1-2 year cell phone replacement cycle feels good. I recently cracked my screen to oblivion and replaced it instead of getting a new one like I might have a few years ago.

    Good luck trying to Frugal-FI you cell phone bills! 🙂

  3. I used to have a cell phone for work and a personal one. I ported my personal cell number to my work phone (paid for by the company with unlimited data). Now all my calls from my personal number and all of my texts come straight to one phone. I saved the cost of my phone line. Now I pay zero dollars a month for personal cell services, texts, and data. Obviously, I’m not FI yet and still working. But I’m not spending money anymore for personal cell services.

    • PawPawFI,

      Those of us who have a work phone, whether we really want one or not, can get creative in how we incorporate that into our plan for cell service. For example, if your work phone pays for unlimited data, and you want/need to keep both phones, then you are able to reduce or eliminate the requirement for data on the personal phone, increasing the amount we can redirect towards FI.

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