Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Update

Kat finally made it back to school today, having been off since December 22. I think even she had had her fill of winter vacation.

This means things are a little closer to being back to normal.

I messed up this morning and sent Shane to the pharmacy to get our prescriptions without giving him the instant rebate card for the medication he takes. I didn't even think of it, because it's in my wallet and I'm usually the one who picks up our prescriptions. So we ended up with a co-pay of $20 when we could have got it for free. I have to go back out in a while, so I'm going to stop by the drug store and see if they will go ahead and process the rebate after the fact. The worst the can do is say no. ***Edited to add: I took the receipt and the instant rebate card back to the pharmacy (Walgreens) and they were happy to go ahead and process the rebate and refund $20 back to our debit card.***

I looked into cell phone plans over the weekend. I mentioned before that we have a very basic plan with T-Mobile. We have two phones with 750 shared minutes, free nights and weekends and no minutes used when talking to others who use a T-Mobile plan. We don't have text messages, photo messages or anything of that sort. This plan costs us $74 a month including all the taxes and fees.

Our cell phone needs are simple:

  • Miscellaneous calls because we don't have a land-line phone. We don't make many personal calls at all during the week, but we need at least one cell phone for calls to and from doctors, school, etc.

  • Calls to our parents each weekend. My parents are a couple of hours away. Shane's mom and step-dad are hundreds of miles away. All have health issues of some sort. Since we can't easily visit them, making these weekly calls is important to all of us.

  • Calls to each other. When Shane is working we touch base at least once each day, usually to ask the other if there is anything we need to take care of or pick-up for the other while we're already out of the house. While this isn't a strict necessity, it often saves time and money for us.
The plan we already have is ideal. In fact, we could probably get by with fewer minutes as long as we still had free weekends and free calls to each other.

I've been searching for something less expensive, but I'm not coming up with much. The best I've been able to find is Wal-Mart's Straight Talk plan which offers 1000 phone minutes (plus some texting options we wouldn't use), for 30 days, for $30. But that's just for one phone, and doesn't include the monthly fees or taxes. There may also be line activation fees to consider. So yes, it could save us a little money if we decided to use just one phone until Shane is back at work for the time being. However, if we went with two phones, it doesn't look as if it would save us anything at all. We'd have a lot more minutes, but that doesn't help us -- we don't use the minutes we have as it is.

I'm not saying we absolutely won't drop to just one shared cell phone, but I'm not ready to make that decision just yet. But at least we know that option is there if we need it.

Do any of you know of any plans that are less expensive than that? The prepaid options I've looked at don't seem like the answer because of the calls we want to make to our parents. All the other economy plans I've found are very similar to the Straight Talk plan, and most require line activation fees that eat up months' worth of any savings that might be had. But I may have overlooked something. If you know of anything, please let me know.


Sheila said...

It's good to see some things are getting back to normal. We are so tired of winter in our neck of the woods. We are supposed to get up to 50 on Wednesday!!
Cell phone plans--we live in an area where there is spotty coverage for most providers. After trying Alltel, Verizon, Cingular, and I don't remember who else, we switched to Tracfone. They have the best coverage here and the best minutes for us. We have 3 phones with double minutes for life. We never use all our minutes before we have to add more--I spend $20 every 3 months for each phone to add minutes. I know I have over 300 minutes and one daughter probably has over 500 minutes right now. I call my mom in MS just about every week--I sent her a Tracfone when she lost her job and money was tight. I also try to send her a phone card every so often. She has double minutes too so if I send her a 120 minute card, she gets 240 minutes for around $25-$30. I'm not sure how that evens out. Tracfone does have something where you pay the same amount every month for a certain amount of minutes but I haven't checked into it because we use so few minutes. The last plan we had was with Alltel and it was $60 a month with no rollover minutes and not much coverage. Now I pay $60 every 3 months for 3 phones with rollover minutes and coverage pretty much every where we go. It was frustrating trying to find a good plan--comparing prices, options and coverage. Prices had dropped on some of the Tracfone cards recently(before the holidays) but I haven't checked lately to see if they are still lower or they went back up.
We have magic jack for our home phone which is $19.95 a year, I think. We got it a couple of years ago when it first came out but it was pretty much just static. We tried it again last month when our Vonage modem died. We are doing okay with it now--they have expanded their coverage. We went from $28 a month on Vonage to $19.95 a year for phone service.
Good luck and I hope you can find a suitable plan soon.

A.Marie said...

YAY for going back to school! Mine went back to school today, and I think they were ready! :)

Annie Jones said...

Sheila: I did look at TracFone's set monthly plan, but didn't look at anything else they have to offer. I will go back and give it another look. Thanks for the suggestion.

A.Marie: Kat came home in a great mood this afternoon, too. I think she was happy to see her friends. :)

SonyaAnn said...

I'm glad to see that your $20 was refunded. Don't you hate when you do things like that!
I think I would leave the phones alone. You need them. I know some money saving gurus say to cut down to nothing but not when it doesn't make cents. Giggle! Maybe call T-Mobile and tell them your situation, they might give you a discount. I called our satellite company and they dropped our bill from $40 to $25. Like you said, all they can say in no.
And Anna went back to school today. Her face is still swollen and she said that she looked like Quagmire but I can't take much more Anna time. So I hear ya about wanting things to get back to normal.