Tag: Finance

Ting vs. Straight Talk – Ting Saved Me $138 Last Month

Last month my Ting cellular bill was very low considering I have 4 phones.  Here is how my last month’s bill broke down:

Ting Actual Bill (Nov 13 – Dec 12)

Combined Minutes   (medium):  $ 9.00
Combined Messages  (medium):  $ 5.00
Combined Megabytes (medium):  $ 3.00
4 Phone Devices:              $24.00
Usage Total:                  $41.00
Taxes and Fees:               $ 3.91
Total:                        $44.91

StraightTalk Hypothetical Bill

Android Device 1:             $ 45.00
Android Device 2:             $ 45.00
Android Device 3:             $ 45.00
Android Device 4:             $ 45.00
Usage Total:                  $180.00
Taxes and Fees:               $  3.91
Total:                        $183.91

Ting Saved Me $138 Last Month

If my four android devices were on StraightTalk each with their $45 unlimited plan instead of Ting it would have cost me at least $180.  I suspect that I have underestimated the taxes on the StraightTalk accounts because each account would have to pay the same taxes and fees.  I would have been able to use more minutes and more data and more text messages on StraightTalk but I didn’t.  Our actual usage was pretty  low because we are always on wifi as a family and we don’t talk on our cell phones that much.

How Did That Happen?

As I have explained in previous posts, we are heavy wifi users.  Our kids are young so their phones are mostly for emergencies or occasionally when they go over a friend’s house.  The kids use almost no minutes, messages or megabytes but both of their phones are active.  My wife is home on wifi a lot but she does text a lot.  She also uses her cell phone from time to time.   I’m home all the time so I use wifi for most things including voip calls over wifi.  I do text a lot – usually with my wife so that counts as 2 texts (me sending and her receiving).   We fit the perfect profile for a Ting user who saves a ton of money on cell usage.  We text plenty, don’t talk that much and don’t use much data (since we’re always on wifi).

Does That Mean That StraightTalk is A Bad Service?

No.  StraightTalk is a pretty good service (so I’ve heard).   For some people it is probably a better choice than Ting too!  If you use a lot of data or you talk on the phone a lot then it might save you money compared to Ting.  The other upside to StraightTalk is that you always know what your bill is going to be so you don’t have to worry about it being more than expected.  Heavy talkers or data users should consider StraightTalk.  Since my family doesn’t use much data or talk that much, we are better off with Ting.

Sign Up for Ting And Get a $25 Credit (I’ll get a $25 Credit Too)

If you find my blog posts about Ting helpful and are considering signing up for Ting, please consider using this link. If you use this link to sign up, we will both get a $25 credit in our Ting accounts (thanks!) https://zejffn1eh54.ting.com/

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Ting vs. Boost Mobile – Ting Saved Me $175 Last Month

Last month my Ting cellular bill was amazingly low considering I have 4 phones.  Here is how my last month’s bill broke down:

Ting Actual Bill (Oct 13 – Nov 12)

Combined Minutes   (medium):  $ 9.00
Combined Messages  (medium):  $ 5.00
Combined Megabytes (medium):  $ 3.00
4 Phone Devices:              $24.00
Usage Total:                  $41.00
Taxes and Fees:               $ 3.91
Total:                        $44.91

Boost Mobile Hypothetical Bill

Android Device 1:             $ 55.00
Android Device 2:             $ 55.00
Android Device 3:             $ 55.00
Android Device 4:             $ 55.00
Usage Total:                  $220.00
Taxes and Fees:               $  3.91
Total:                        $223.91

Ting Saved Me $175 Last Month

If my four android devices were on Boost Mobile with unlimited plans instead of Ting it would have cost me at least $223 (assuming none of my payments had shrunk yet).  It is true that I would have been able to use more minutes and more data and more text message on Boost.  This isn’t about what I could have done.  This is about what I actually did.  My actual usage was low because we are always on wifi as a family and we don’t talk on our cell phones that much.

How Did That Happen?

As I have explained in previous posts, we are heavy wifi users.  Our kids are young so their phones are mostly for emergencies or occasionally when they go over a friend’s house.  The kids use almost no minutes, messages or megabytes but both of their phones are active.  My wife is home on wifi a lot but she does text a lot.  She also uses her cell phone from time to time.   I’m home all the time so I use wifi for most things including voip calls over wifi.  I do text a lot – usually with my wife so that counts as 2 texts (me sending and her receiving).   We fit the perfect profile for a Ting user who saves a ton of money on cell usage.  We text plenty, don’t talk that much and don’t use much data (since we’re always on wifi).

Sign Up for Ting And Get a $25 Credit (I’ll get a $25 Credit Too)

If you find my blog posts about Ting helpful and are considering signing up for Ting, please consider using this link. If you use this link to sign up, we will both get a $25 credit in our Ting accounts (thanks!) https://zejffn1eh54.ting.com/

Ting vs. Virgin Mobile – Ting Saved Me $85 Last Month

I have recently blogged about Ting and Virgin Mobile and I have compared the two services.  To read more about the comparisons you can see the category here.

This post is about how much money I saved with Ting last month.

Ting Bill

Last month (from Sept. 13 – Oct 12, 2013) my Ting bill was:

Combined Minutes   (medium):  $ 9.00
Combined Messages  (medium):  $ 5.00
Combined Megabytes (medium):  $13.00
4 Phone Devices:              $23.80
Usage Total:                  $50.80
Taxes and Fees:               $ 3.91
Total:                        $54.71

Virgin Mobile (Hypothetical Bill)

My Virgin Mobile Bill would have been:

Beyond Talk phone 1:  $35 + taxes and fees
Beyond Talk phone 2:  $35 + taxes and fees
Beyond Talk phone 3:  $35 + taxes and fees
Beyond Talk phone 4:  $35 + taxes and fees
Total:                $140 + taxes and fees for 4 accounts

Ting Saved Me $85 Last Month

Not including the taxes and fees from Virgin Mobile, I saved at least $85 by switching to Ting.  Those taxes probably add up to another $12 so the real savings is probably closer to $97.

How Did That Happen?

As I have explained in previous posts, we are heavy wifi users.  Our kids are young so their phones are mostly for emergencies or occasionally when they go over a friend’s house.  The kids use almost no minutes, messages or megabytes but both of their phones are active.  My wife is home on wifi a lot but she does text a lot.  She also uses her cell phone from time to time.   I’m home all the time so I use wifi for most things including voip calls over wifi.  I do text a lot – usually with my wife so that counts as 2 texts (me sending and her receiving).   We fit the perfect profile for a Ting user who saves a ton of money on cell usage.  We text plenty, don’t talk that much and don’t use much data (since we’re always on wifi).

Sign Up for Ting And Get a $25 Credit (I’ll get a $25 Credit Too)

If you find my blog posts about Ting helpful and are considering signing up for Ting, please consider using this link. If you use this link to sign up, we will both get a $25 credit in our Ting accounts (thanks!) https://zejffn1eh54.ting.com/

M’s Glasses Saga

Two years ago, M got glasses (age 9).  He broke them within the year and they were replaced for free because they were under warranty.  He broke them again just after a year (age 10) and they were replaced again by Skyvision.  This time Skyvision told us they would cost $25 but that they were still under warranty.  They charged our insurance for frames and lenses to replace the glasses which was very shady after having told us they were still under warranty.  After many angry calls to Skyvision, they refunded the lenses but left the insurance charge for the frames because they were over a year old and not covered by the replacement warranty as they had claimed.

Unfortunately a month ago, M broke his glasses again (age 11).  This time I decided to vote with my wallet and take my business elsewhere since Skyvision tried to secretly charge our insurance company for glasses while claiming it was a free warranty replacement.

This time we went to Target.  M’s glasses were priced at $266.  Insurance covered certain lens charges but not the frames.  I had forgotten about what was covered and what was not covered so I put the glasses on hold and called the insurance company.  They reminded me that the frames would not be covered this year because they had already covered frames earlier in the year.  I was not happy with the price so I decided to shop around.

Finally we went to Walmart to price out glasses.  Wow, what a huge price difference!  At Walmart, the same types of frames with the sames type of poly-thin lenses cost me $103 before any insurance reimbursement.  After the out of network reimbursement it will cost just $75.  How do places like Skyvision and Target stay in business selling glasses when Walmart can offer them for so much less?  I’m not always a fan of Walmart but in this case it was an easy decision.

AT&T Uverse Billing Problems

I’m starting to think it is me.  Maybe I’m the only person in the world that checks their bills.  Maybe I’m unlucky and companies always magically over bill me.  Either way, I’m caught in the same cycle of incorrect billing again with AT&T Uverse.  They gave me a promo code last Sept for a free on-demand movie.  I used it.  They charged me for the movie.  I called and got the credit fixed.  They offered me a free upgrade for 12 months to their fastest internet with no strings attached.  Since then, they have over-billed me every month – 6 months in a row.  Every month I call and they credit the difference and then we move on to another month.  This time, the customer service representative I spoke with told me that I had been over credited so I would continue to be over billed until the system worked it out. Also, my bill would never show the proper credits but that was OK because they were billing me correctly.  Wow!  My head almost exploded.  I got disconnected as I was about to freak out but when I called back I was immediately directed to the customer retention department.  That is where they send people who are canceling their service.  I was not going to cancel but luckily the retention department rep actually looked at my account and saw how screwed up the billing was.  They worked backwards and figured out the credits I still was owed.  They downgraded my internet back to what I originally had because the system was incapable of billing me correctly.  They told me the CSR I spoke with was lying about the over credit or the bill never showing credits.  So, I’m going on month 7.. will my bill be correct this time?  I’m pretty skeptical.

Android Free or Cheap Calls

I’ve been trying out several options for free or very cheap wifi calling on android phones.  I have an LG Optimus V and most of my time is spent at home because I work from home.  So far here are some options I have come up with.

Free Outbound Calling – Nettalk

Nettalk is a free android app that lets you make free outbound calls to real telephone numbers.  Call quality is sketchy and calls drop pretty frequently.  It is free so you can’t get mad but I still find it too unstable for frequent use.

Cheap Outbound Calling – Skype

Skype out costs $2.99/month.  Call quality is pretty good.  So, if you don’t mind paying a little per month is is a good option.

Free Inbound and Outbound Calling – GrooveIP + Google Voice

GrooveIP is an android application that makes it possible to use a Google Voice account for free inbound and outbound calling.   You have to setup your Google Voice phone number to forward to your Google chat (it is an option in your Google Voice account).   Somehow the GrooveIP app hooks in to the Google chat API.  Call quality is pretty good and this option offers both inbound and outbound calling.  The GrooveIP app costs $3.99 (one time charge).

Free Inbound and Outbound – IPKall, CallCentric, CSipSimple, Google Voice, Google Voice Callback

Setting this one up was complicated but it works well.  You need:

  • CallCentric.com free Call Freedom SIP account.  This allows you to receive unlimited incoming SIP calls
  • IPKall.com gives you a free Washington area phone number.  This number forwards calls to your CallCentric.com SIP account.
  • CSipSimple android app receives SIP calls
  • Google Voice account setup to forward calls to your IPKall phone number
  • Google Voice Callback app makes it so when you dial a number, it instead uses Google Voice to call you back and connect you with the phone  you were trying to call

When you make an outbound call, you use the normal android dialer to place a call.  It tells Google Voice to call you back on your IPKall phone number.  The IPKall phone number routes to CallCentric and then to the CSipSimple app on your phone.

When you receive an inbound call on your Google Voice phone number it routes to your IPKall number which routes to your CallCentric SIP account which routes the call to your CSipSimple app on your phone.

This one has been working pretty well for me.  It was a pain to setup but it is pretty clear and makes free inbound and outbound calling possible.

 

Magicjack – Not Working

After reading a lot about how you could set Magicjack up to forward calls to a SIP app like CSipSimple, I went through the trouble of decyphering my Magjcjack SIP username, password and proxy server.  Then I realized that this option hasn’t worked since 2009/2010.  Apparently Magicjack changed something about their password authentication scheme to prevent people from using Magicjack with a SIP app to make calls from any SIP calling application (android or other).

 

 

Small savings add up

I recently made some changes that should some money over the current year:

  • Downgraded my VPS hosting plan at VPSLand.com to the starter package since I wasn’t using the extra memory or disk space (saved $6/mo)
  • Dropped Callcentric softphone as our business voicemail even though their service was good.  Instead switched to googlevoice since this line is almost never used (saved $2/mo)
  • Swithed from Time Warner Cable to AT&T Uverse.  (saved $40/mo over this yr)
  • Switched from paper to electronic statements for amex and wells fargo merchant accounts (saved $12.50/mo)

It is  a continuous effort but so far I’m pretty happy with the savings.