Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yes, We Can Survive Without All The Modern Conveniences


Periodically we take the time to re-evaluate our monthly expenses.

Do we really need internet access? Oh yeah.

Do we have to get haircuts every 6 weeks? Nah, we can stretch it to 10.

Do we really need our cell phones? ummm....

Honestly, I thought that was a need. I mean, how could I live without my cell phone? But the more we thought about it and remembered the days before we had cell phones, we realized that they weren't really a need after all. So we called and cancelled and immediately knocked $100 of our monthly budget.

Oh the withdrawals.

I had to actually plan better. When I left a kid home to babysit the others I had to make sure and leave the phone number of where I was at if they needed me. How archaic. When I wondered what time my husband was going to be home for dinner, I had to actually just wait to find out. And when I needed to find someones house, I had to actually make sure I had a google map before I left the house instead of just relying on the ability to give them a call if I got lost.

Oh the horror.

But guess what? It's been several months now and I've managed to survive. Modern technology isn't near as much of a need as I once thought it was.

Now, I'm not saying all this to convince you to get rid of your cell phones. But what I am hoping you'll see is this....

Sometimes our needs are really just wants.

If you're serious about cutting costs and living on less, then be willing to experiment and see what you truly need. I'm willing to bet that we all have some things in our budgets that would only take a minor adjustment to do without but a major savings of our resources.

39 comments:

searcher said...

We moved to a village in the country where cell phones don't work. We decided we did not want to pay for a phone we can't use. However, all our family is long distance so a regular phone service would have been so expensive! We use a VOIP service for our house phone now. We just bought a trac phone to carry when one of us leaves the house. We don't keep more than 60 minutes on it so the cost is minimal if you just buy a basic phone.

Tiffany said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile and I love it. Thank you, thank you for all your wonderful suggestions! I got rid of my regular cell phone plan about a year ago but I didn't want to part with the phone. I found a pay as you go plan where I can buy as many or as few minutes as I want and they last for a whole year. It's much cheaper than a regular cell phone plan and I still have that emergency line open for my kids.

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

It really is amazing what we can do without!!

Lori said...

We have a prepaid phone(by Verizon I think) that if you have your "Top-Up" automatically charged to a Credit card, it's only $15 every 3 months. It's .25/min but for emergencies it's a budget friendly alternative.

Lettie said...

We lived in LA where 2 blocks down the road was a different area code and long distance. We tried a home phone and cell phones for a while, but never understood the complicated long distance and local plans. Now we just have our cell phones and love it!

jrmiss86 said...

We actually went the other way. We also didn't want to pay for both cell phones and a house phone. We decided to cancel the house phone. When we sat down and compared the cost of the two we found that the house phone was costing us more so that is what we dumped. We each now have a cell phone that is what we use for everything. My number is the main number that we give people. So far it has worked out great, of course my children are young yet and haven't shown interest in the phone yet. It also helps that at the time we made the switch my husband worked for Nokia so we were able to get the phones for cheaper than we normally would have.

tammy~ said...

We have 2 tracfones and have the family plan which is $17 a month for the 2 phones. It's working great for our family. It might be something for some of your readers to check out.

Jennifer said...

You are a brave woman. I don't think I could do that. I'm barely on my cell, but it's a security thing I guess. Keep up the good work.

Terri and Bob said...

I admire your spirit! I know it is a "want" but I think I still "need" it!

Arden said...

I would love to ditch my cell phone. I got it when I had a baby in the NICU and was leaving other kids at home while I was with him.
My service provider makes it expensive to cancel - more than I pay to actually have the phone!
We are constantly looking over our spending to see where we could do better. I keep it all written down and I add up "discretionary" spending at the end of the week. Oh the money you KNOW you are wasting when you really write down every penny you spend.

Michelle @ Leaving Excess said...

I have to admit, that is impressive!

Amanda said...

We did just the opposite. Instead of having a home phone, my husband and I just carry cell phones. We have a VERY basic family plan (no texting, no data), that comes with unlimited minutes to ourselves and other customers who carry the same phone plan. We also have roll-over minutes, so after a few months of not talking too much, I have enough minutes to not have to worry about an hour long conversation in the middle of the afternoon with my best friend. My husband also gets a 20% discount through his work. We pay less than $40 a month for our phone service! I love it, and my phone is always with me.

Monica said...

We just recently got a cell phone. It was a $50 trac phone from Kroger that came with a $20 gift card and 500 minutes. The money I spend on groceries adds minutes to the phone, which works out well because I buy their marked down bread/milk/meat each week. So far we've had the phone since November and I've never had to purchase any minutes. I really have enjoyed the convenience of having the husband/kids be able to reach me wherever I am.

The Ice House said...

There are many days I'd LOVE to not have a cell phone and the bill that come with it. We run a small ice company and with my husband out on the route add day long, the cell phone is how he is contacted by his customers and how he reaches me if he needs something.

There are lots of things I think about that we TRULY don't need. A big one for me the is cable bill. Yes, it's nice to have ALL those channels to flip through, but do we ever watch it? Most of it is trash anyway. Maybe that is something my family really needs to consider.

Great job saving!

Jennifer said...

We do just the opposite. I am going to school full time and my husband is working, so we both have cells phones so we can contact each other or anyone else if we need to. However, we don't have a land line because we figured people can just call us on our cell phones (or email us) if they need to. And neither of us spends that much time at home, so it is much easier to reach us on our cell phones.

Johnlyn said...

We too have a a tracfone. I think it's about $7/month if you buy a year up front (phone is usually under $20).

Very basic phone, but it's worked for us for years.

Ironically my sister's cell phone service doesn't work in rural Montana, but my cheapie trafone does!

Britt said...

We cancelled our television for the same reason. Most of the shows we really love are offered for free online (with little or no commercials!) In addition, it gets the kids outside more :) Getting rid of the cell phone though....EEEEEEK! That's a want I can't part with...yet :D

Alexandra said...

I totally agree that cell phones aren't needed. In an emergency, they are nice to have and that's the only reason we keep them. We also don't have a home phone, so for us $70/month for 2 phones is within our budget, but again not a necessity. I hate when people call anyway. Personally I don't want to be reached where ever I am, if it is important they will call back when I'm free, will leave a message, or I can them when I get home and have some free time. To me, other than for emergencies, cell phones are a waste of time, money, and sanity! Love you site!

Jodi said...

We changed to a Tracfone, also. We choose to get the kind of card that you don't have to change for a year. It costs us $100 per year instead of $50 per month. We never use all of our minutes, but we like the idea of having a phone in case of emergency (we own 2 13 yr old cars!).

Beckie Perry said...

We got rid of our, sattelite service. Gasp, shock, horror. It's been an adjustment but we've all survived. And the bonus is it's saved us about $80 a month!!

Gloria said...

Gayle I couldn't agree more with the fact that many things are wants not needs. I do have a cell phone however; we have the family plan and everyone in the house works and the bill is divided equally. My husband and son need the phone for business reasons so, we eliminated the house phone. It actually cost us less.

I am a nurse and I worked with immates and persons on probation who lived in either shelters or transitional houses. These persons had substance abuse issues and health problems that required managed medication. In other words they couldn't be trusted to take the medication properly.
I would also do outreach with these individuals helping them to make the steps back into society and one of the things I would do was have them take a piece of paper and write on one side the word needs and on the other wants. I would should them how every time they messed up there needs, the very basic in life where taken away because they couldn't control indulging in the the wants.
I would tell them to hang this up where they could view it daily as a reminder how quickly the things they need can be gone in a heartbeat.
My husband and I are still very frugal even though our children are grown and the reason why is because he is 57 and would like to retire.
I view being frugal at this point in our lives as if I am saving for a very long vacation. Retirement!

Jen B. said...

After becoming a SAHM, I really hated being connected all the time. In my old, high-stress job I needed to have a phone on me at all times. Once I started staying home and focusing on my family, I decided that a phone was totally superfluous. I got rid of my phone and I totally love it! I love the freedom of it! Yes, you do have to plan more...but it is so nice to not have to bother with a phone. Besides, everyone else has one and if there is a true emergency people are usually really generous with letting you make one phone call if need be (I found this out when I got a flat tire once). Thanks for the post. Phones are a want, not a need.

Waterproof said...

I love your blog. I read it regularly! We also do prepaid cell phones. We use T-Mobile and if you spend $100 it is only $.10 a min. and lasts a year. It's perfect for us.

Blakely said...

Way to go on cancelling your cell phone. I would love to do that, and we have actually talked about it. But we just can't seem to do it.

*A* said...

I felt the same way when we shut off text messaging. I thought we were going to disappear into social oblivian...but we didnt, and I feel so much more free now! I don't know that I'm ready to do without my cell altogether, but we'll see.

Sarah said...

We actually canceled our HOME phone and now just have a cell phone. I wanted to keep it, because I have 4 children ages 8 to 1 and if I got stranded somewhere (older vehicles) then I would be walking with 4 little guys in toe... We also saved alot in just getting rid of that one phone...

Emily said...

I love your main point, and regardless of HOW we go about it...(ie: cell phone vs. landline)your main point is...

LIVE WITH LESS. It's not that hard.

Right?

As you know, I haven't had a landline in many moons. But if it works in the reverse for you, than so be it.

your main point shouldn't get lost in what each individual person does. It's AWESOME to remind others that our needs are OFTEN our wants.

good job Gayle!

Gayle said...

EXACTLY Emily! It's not about cell or land line it's about realizing that we can live with less and no matter what society says we NEED to have, there are really a lot of things that aren't necessities. Everyone's wants and needs will be different. Thanks for clearing that up.

Camille said...

We've been without a cell phone since October and have had no issues at all. We do have a pre-paid Tracfone for emergencies. We also cut out cable for years and survived just fine!

Melissa said...

I hear ya, we're talking seriously about pulling the plug on the tv and just getting netflix. We can watch things on our laptop if we want to as well (you know, my weekly installmetn of Gray's). I'm not much of a tv watcher anyway, but I think it will be harder for DH. On the cell phone note, we don't get service where we live, so I bought a Tracfone and a one year of service. For both it was about $100 and came with a ton of minutes (over 1000). It's been perfect for us and a great peace of mind if we need a phone while we're out (or to call DH and have him turn the oven on for take&bake pizza).

Pioneer Mom said...

We have been without a cell phone for years. Don't need the extra cost or the brain cancer...lol
But, without internet, no, that would be hard...

Kate said...

You inspire me every day but now I'm kind of ripped off at you! LOL I've been convicted...
I have been bugging DH for a new cell phone. Mine is so old that it can receive texts but not send them. We have had the same $30/ month package for 10 years. The company hates us because we are still billed by the second. They can't do anything about it...we fulfilled our contract and have been on time with payment ever since. I hate to say it but you're right. I don't need the pretty red texting phone that would cost us a transfer fee of $25 and $6 more per month. My old phone works just fine. Darn it! LOL

Anonymous said...

hubby and I had this talk more than once, we have cut the refuse bill by recycling and composting,and dealing for a one bag rate with the refuse co, cut the electric bill by getting rid of the old manual defrost freezer and using the clothes line and clothing drying rack, turning off things(be surprised at how much time you will stop to check email etc) when not actually using them( except the light on the stove vent hood so we don't step on the black lab that is disabled when we walk thru the house at night)We got rid of the cable, catch the weather and news on the internet. We got rid of the $150/m phone service and got Vonage thru the high speed internet I have for my work anyways. The cell phone...it's going to be kept, I had a light heart attack while driving, we live in the boonies, if I hadn't had my cell phone I would have not got medical attention as the nearest house was 10 miles from me.( Medical personal told me to cough very hard every few seconds when I was alone and going thru it, it changes the way your heart is beating and can possible buy you time to get treatment, I'm okay)

every month we review what we spent and on what...next month we might feel we should get netflex though I wonder when the grandkids bring me their dvds and let me "borrow" them. One of my grandsons bought a dvd of a new movie, his mom asked if he was sure he wanted to spend his money on it. He said yes otherwise he would spend twice as much going to the movie threater and only seeing it once.He's got my weakness of jumbo popcorn.

Thank you for the Blessing you send for all of us

April said...

we ditched our satellite tv service($80 a month) back in December...we figured we could eith find our favorite shows online(which we mostly watched sci-fi channel) or wait until they come out on dvd and get them from netflix or watch online.

We cancelled our home phone, which would get very expensive with my husband out of state a lot. We got 2 Boost mobile phones and pay $50 a month each for unlimited nationwide service(includes texting, internet, and my favorite, the walkie talkie. We were both spending way more $100 a month on our old cell phones.

thecookingnurse said...

I just found your blog and am really enjoying reading it. I actually just cancelled my cell phone service yesterday! I lol when I began reading this post, it was a little reassurance that I did the right thing.

Erin said...

Like so many others of your readers, we've switched to a TracFone for emergencies...Like Jen B., after leaving a high-stress job to come home with my children, I don't want to be on the leash all the time. We also have turned off our DirecTV and no one misses it. We cancelled our trash service (we can go to the dump ourselves for far less than 35/month!). I use Skype to talk with my sister across the country and I'm working on getting my dad to use it so I can call him for free, too. Everyone needs to do what works for them...the trick is to start thinking about what we're doing and why...there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

BECKY! said...

We're like a bunch of others - the opposite. We haven't had a home phone in years. We have a family plan and we have 4 lines for $114 a month (my mother and grandmother have the other 2 lines).

We too have very basic stuff - we don't text and have zero idea how to make the internet work on the phones.

Thanks for the inspiring post!

analytical.rhetoric said...

We also have cut our cell phones out, we did go with the TMobile prepaid phone for my husband because he works nights at a casino and sometimes works 6plus hours of overtime and it's nice to get a call to let me know, one 100 dollar prepaid car lasts all year and we've used maybe 10 dollars on it so far, it's pretty amazing, also Tmobile has a plan called "flex pay" which is pretty neat if you're worried about being on time with your payments and whatnot.

Also, we found out that it does take a bit of extra time before going out, but we are much more likely to be on time [since we can't call to tell people we're running late]. So far we haven't missed it very much.

We also do not have cable, but we do have an Xbox 360 and Netflix which allows us to stream unlimited [select movies and tv shows] to the t.v. through the XBox, or on the computer. It comes with the basic 9.99 package too so it's pretty affordable. We also use Hulu a lot.

And always always if you use a land line/internet package from a provider, call every 6 months to see if you can get a better rate!

We got a new "promo" rate the other day which is saving us 30 dollars a month.

Christine said...

I agree that lots of our "needs" are just wants - but just last week I was wondering how our parents ever raised us without the convenience of cell phones!

My teenage son was out, not where he was suppose to be (his friends and I believed him to be lost as he was walking) and his cell phone was not working!

I was thinking - "how did our parents ever keep their mind and sanity in tack without us (the kids) having cell phones?!"

Being able to get a hold of my teenagers is a HUGE benefit to me, one that I am willing to pay for! Although, I have to say that once a certain age, they are responsible for paying their own bill and lose privileges if their phone is not working.

I love finding ways to save money and am looking forward to reading more on your blog!