The verdict is officially in, and just as we suspected, we’re saving a ton of money after switching our wireless carrier to Ting. Our first bill, including taxes & fees, was $34.01, which breaks down as follows:

TingBill

What a difference compared to the $135.70 we were paying to AT&T monthly. Plus this first bill was covered by the credits we received so we didn’t have to pay anything. Why oh why didn’t we switch sooner?

Full disclosure: I don’t think our monthly bill will be quite this low moving forward because we were trying to see how much we could lower it so we were a bit restrictive in our overall usage. That being said, we do have certain habits that keeps our usage naturally low.

Minutes
Who uses their phone to make calls? But seriously, we don’t talk on the phone much, and I’ve been using our MagicJack service via the iPhone app for long conversations with my family since we’re already paying a set amount for that service. No need to jack up our wireless bill unnecessarily.

Messages
Our AT&T plan restricted us to 200 texts per month or we’d pay extra per text, so for years we’ve been using an app called eBuddy XMS to communicate with each other and Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts to “text” with friends and family.

Megabytes
I was grandfathered into an unlimited plan with AT&T so I never bothered connecting to Wi-Fi outside our home and consequently would use about 2 GB of data every month. One of the biggest changes I made after switching to Ting was taking advantage of free Wi-Fi networks when we’re out. I enjoy surfing when Joe is driving and I didn’t do much of that this first month either. Now that I know that it won’t impact our bill very much as long as I avoid the data hogging apps (I’m looking at you, Facebook), I’m going to be a little more relaxed about it.

Final Thoughts
I anticipate our Ting bill will be under $50 every month which is still an $80 savings over AT&T which is awesome.

How to switch to Ting
If you’re interested in switching to Ting, check out my post about our switch for full details, or check out my quick instructions below.

1) Open Ting account, order SIM card.

2) Request that your current carrier unlock your device.

3) After receiving your SIM card, log into your Ting account and choose activate.

4) Request through Ting that they port your number (optional).

5) Once port request goes through your old carrier will automatically cancel your account. Or if you’re not porting a number, call your carrier to cancel your service.

6) Install your Ting SIM card and follow your former carrier’s device unlock instructions.

7) If you have to pay an ETF, send that final bill to Ting and they will credit you back for a portion of it.

Enjoy the savings!

Ting

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magicjack

Our story of cutting the cord (a detailed post coming soon) actually began about a year and a half ago. We wanted to reduce our Comcast monthly bill and the first casualty was phone service. At first we contemplated not having a landline at all. But then after hearing good things about magicJack we decided to investigate it further.

After reading the Amazon reviews, we decided to give the magicJackGO a try. We paid around $50, but now it can be found for $39.99 @ Target or Amazon
which includes the hardware and the first year of service. Even at $50 we figured it was worth a try.

Installation couldn’t have been easier. We plugged the magicJackGO into the power adapter and then into a power strip. Then we connected an Ethernet cable from our router to the magicJackGO Ethernet port. After that it only required a cord from our phone to the phone port on the magicJackGO.

The process of setting up the magicJack service was easy as well. After connecting the actual magicJack device to a USB port on our computer, it downloaded and updated software on the device.

Once installed, the magicJack softphone screen came up which looks like a phone dialer. There is a registration link on the left that takes you to the magicJack registration site to begin the process of account set-up – name, address, new phone number/porting, payment method, etc.

If you have an existing number with your current phone provider, porting your number is simple. You can go here to confirm your number is able to be ported to the Magicjack. After it’s confirmed all you need to do is to go into your magicJack online account, which you should have set up by now, and go to the TRANSFER section of your account to begin the process. The site claims it can take 5-10 business days for the porting to be completed but ours only took a couple of days.

After you’ve set up your account, completed the software updates, and either chosen your new number or ported your existing one, you’re pretty much done. We opted to plug in the magicJack directly into a power outlet and connect the Ethernet cord to it so we are able to make calls through a regular cordless phone handset.

Another nice thing feature is the magicJack App, available for both iOS and Android. You can use the app to make phone calls (from your home number) either via cell coverage or over WiFi, regardless of your location. You can also see and answer phone calls to your home number from the app even when you’re not home.

The one additional cost we didn’t catch when we originally signed up is that there’s an annual 911 fee of $11. The renewal fee for the magicJack service is $35, so your total annual out of pocket expense is $46/year ($3.83/month) if you want to have a landline in your home which is much cheaper than the $15 per month we were paying Comcast.

Joe-

A while back we tried a new pizza place called MOD Pizza. It reminded me of a Chipotle, but for pizza. You could choose one of their specialty pizzas from their simple menu or build your own pizza. The pizza is prepared – built – in front of you in assembly line fashion and then baked quickly in their pizza oven.

On our first visit I was feeling a little adventurous, so I tried their Lucy Sunshine pizza off their simple menu. I can’t say I’ve tried artichokes up to this point, but I haven’t found a vegetable I haven’t liked yet so why not? The Lucy Sunshine includes MOD’s signature crust, garlic, mozzarella, Parmesan, artichokes, and dollops of their red sauce. It was really good!

A couple weeks ago I took a shot at making my own version at home. It turned out great, but still needed a little tweaking. Last night was take 2 at making my semi-homemade version – I cheat a little by using Pillsbury’s thin pizza crust.

Read More →

Want A Cheaper Cable Bill Every Month?

We’ve been in the process of slowly cutting the cord with our current cable company, Comcast. For various reasons we’re hanging out just a little bit longer. One of those reasons is we’re waiting for the new Almond 3 to be released so we can DIY our home security. We’ll write about that in more detail once we make the switch.

For now, we still wanted to see how much money we could shave off our $173 Comcast bill. It just went up because a “promotion” we were given for 12 months expired. I use parenthesis because I think they only call it a “promotion” to make it sound like you are getting a deal. Anyway, once our “promotion” expired I gave Comcast a call. The person I spoke to was very helpful. I explained how I wasn’t working and wanted to reduce my bill each month, and I didn’t want to have to go the route of changing cable provider (yet, unbeknownst to her). She explained she totally understood and was immediately able to reduce my bill by $11.30/month. Not a huge amount, but it was something.

Furthermore, she told me what she could do was put me into a different “promotion” which would give me more premium and basic channels and faster internet for what I’m paying today. Wait, what? First of all, if that’s the case why not give it to people who qualify for it now and not when they call in? Second, I told her in the beginning I wasn’t working and wanted to reduce my bill, yet she’s trying to “help me” by keeping me with the same monthly expense? Geeze. The fact that they’re obviously not there to help their subscribers is another reason to say bye-bye. I suppose they’re trying to give their CEO another 10% pay increase. When was the last time you received a 10% pay increase?? I know CEOs work many more hours than a typical full-time employee, but based off a 40 hour work week, the Comcast CEO makes $17,403 AN HOUR. Doesn’t that make you want to pay Comcast even more money?

Anyway, I took the $11.30/month reduction and we should be just a month or two away from a complete switch. It doesn’t hurt to pick up the phone and ask them to reduce your bill, though. Focus on equipment fees since those are the easiest for the rep to change. Plus discounting them shouldn’t cause you to get locked into 1 or 2 year agreement. Be sure to watch out for those lock-ins before agreeing to any pricing reductions!

Joe-

Extrapolate This - Weekly Roundup - 417 to 423

What a crazy week it’s been in entertainment news, right? Among other deaths this week there was Doris Roberts, Chyna and Prince.

I’ve always felt I grew up in a stellar time for music, the 80’s. I was in my teens for the majority of the decade. And oh, what a decade it was for music. Stadium rock bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Queen. Big hair bands like Poison, Whitesnake, and Warrant. The great alternative bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure, New Order and the early days of Smashing Pumpkins. And then there were the one-hit (or two-hit) wonders that were so prevalent during the decade: Come On Eileen (Dexys Midnight Runners), 867-5309 (Tommy Tutone), and Relax (Frankie Goes To Hollywood). I could go on and on with bands and songs, I can remember them like they just hit the radio. SO many great bands and songs. Prince And The Revolution was definitely part of those memories for me. You have to appreciate the contribution Prince made to music.

Joe-


March Dining Out Expenses

Housecleaning @ ET!

Healthcare.Gov – My Review

After separating from a company it used to be the only option for continuing healthcare was joining COBRA or looking for private coverage. Nowadays with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) there are more affordable options. That’s a good thing since you’re required to have coverage or pay a penalty.

In order to determine what options are available to you, I recommend starting at your state dedicated site or even the Healthcare Marketplace where eventually you’ll be directed to Healthcare.Gov to began the application process. I found the interface was set up so that even someone with limited computer experience could navigate the site pretty easily since it’s designed to walk the applicant through the process step-by-step.

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A Day In The Life

Ah, Tuesday.

Tuesday is actually more like the first day of my week. I say that because Nicole works three days a week – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I save all the cleaning aside from the daily dishes and things like that for Tuesday. I’ve reiterated before, whomever is home more should be doing more around the house. It’s not fair for Nicole to have to work and clean the house if I’m not working. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

Our townhouse is about 1600 square feet. Not huge, but not small either. Fortunately, with just two of us and my son here only a few days a month, the house never really becomes what I would call dirty. It becomes cluttered at times, but that’s about it. Nonetheless, I do a pretty thorough cleaning on Tuesdays. I look at it as exercise as well; burning a few extra calories doesn’t hurt. I like starting early too. By the time Nicole leaves for work – around 6:45am – I’m already starting on the kitchen.

house-cleaning

My morning today is dedicated to cleaning. It only takes about 3-4 hours to clean all of the “usual” things in the house including laundry. And each week I end up taking on something that is a little more time consuming, but it’s more of a once-in-a-while kind of item to clean. Today it’s the patio door vertical blinds. Our patio door has three sections to it, so there’s about a 10′ section of blinds I’ll take down and wash. Fun stuff.

As for dinner, slow cooker cashew chicken is on the menu tonight. I’ll post a review and my pics later this week. Yes, I found it on Pinterest, as always.

Joe-