Most single people I know who have a low income have a cell phone only, no landline. For one person the right cell plan can cost no more than basic landline service. And you can take it with you! I like having it with me in case I need to call for help in the car. It’s nice for calling manufacturers right there in the grocery store to be sure whether their product contains something to which I’m allergic.
Virgin Mobile’s Pay Lo plans start as low as $20 a month. The unlimited plan is $40. I suppose a couple or a family could share this if they left the phone at home–just like you leave the landline phone at home–and only took it with them when they went somewhere together. Usually, a family plan costs less than a separate plan for each person, but not always. It can’t hurt to do the math and compare different providers.
Walmart’s Straight Talk cell phone plan gets good reviews online. They give a fifteen-day trial period that allows you to see if the service and the phone will work for you in your area. Several sources say that the unlimited data plan may have some unstated limitations in practice.
Ask your provider–and competing providers–about special discounts. There may be discounts for educators, the military, seniors, any group of which you are a member. Not all discounts are widely advertised and it can’t hurt to ask.
If your data bill is higher than you expected, consider this. If someone on your plan doesn’t log out of Facebook, data will stream any time one of their friends updates their status. So make it a habit to log out of Facebook and similar sites to keep the data bill under control.
Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.