I’m all about saving money, I’ve written before about couponing and budgeting. For a while now I’ve been intrigued by the idea so foreign to those of my Generation X and older: cutting the cord. A lot of people have already, and know how easy and money-saving it can be, but for a lot of others, it’s a whole different world.
We take our entertainment seriously in this household, which means we are willing to pay for certain entertainment luxuries. Multiple TVs in the house, multiple boxes so people could record shows, fast internet connection for gaming and mobile device usage. About the only thing we never sprung for was all the pay channels like Showtime and Skine…I mean Cinemax.
Of COURSE we had HBO. We had to have our Game of Thrones.
But I was already feeling the wallet pinch with our regular $180/mo bill when our 2 year contract with Verizon FIOS was about to end and they informed us it was going up to $230+.
OH HELLS NO. A girl has no patience.
So I finally talk my husband into researching how to cut the cord. I’d already heard that Optimum was introducing 400 Mbps, with talk of service being available up to 1000 Mbps (Gigabit). For reference, our FIOS service was sitting at 150 Mbps and we were already stretching the limits with all the devices in our house in use. But my husband made the argument that he much preferred to stay with Verizon and liked the FIOS stability much better.
Calling Verizon FIOS
So we called them up and asked about their highest level of internet speed – they offer straight up Gigabit for about $90/mo! We were already sold right there, but here’s where we had to compare the shows we watched with our availability to access them on streaming services alone.
When we looked at things honestly, we realized we spent the majority of our time watching Netflix or Amazon Prime which we would still be maintaining, so no change there. However, the biggest concern was looking for a streaming service that offered our regular shows from places like DisneyHD (hey we need our Star Wars Rebels!), Syfy and DiscoveryID.
Calling Verizon Wireless
For this we turned back to Verizon, only we spoke with Verizon Wireless, which is the cell provider for my husband’s plans. They were advertising a very nice deal with DirecTV. After adjusting to a new plan (4 phones on unlimited data), they offered to add the basic DirecTV streaming bundle for a change in his bill of… $1/mo. That’s right, for a single dollar extra per month, we could stream all the channels we always watched, AND we also gained BBC America, which we hadn’t had access to before! And we should have no trouble streaming on any device, whether it’s the TV, desktop, laptop or smartphone!
Ok, so now we had to look for products that would help us stream all these shows (like a cable box) – the most obvious choice we went with was the Amazon Fire Stick. As it simply plugs into our TVs and you can load up whatever app you subscribe to, it’s the easiest and most straightforward flat purchase to make. Not to mention they worth with Amazon Alexa, which makes it SUPER easy to find what you want.
The next thing was looking for a powerful wireless router. While Verizon does provide a wireless router calibrated specifically for their Gigabit service, they do charge $10/mo for it and the model is mid-range residential. We’re pretty hardcore when it comes to gaming and streaming already, and we wanted to be sure our house was set up with the best we could. Ultimately we decided that purchasing this Netgear Nighthawk would be the best for our needs. We were super lucky to get it on sale and with some rewards cash we had saved up, we sprung for the 3 year warranty and still saved at least $100 over what we would have spent renting.
So at this point we place our orders for the gear we need, which is definitely an outlay of funds in the beginning. But since our new month was JUUUST about to roll over, we wanted to take care of things right away. We made the changes, we installed the gear, and started testing things out. Without boring you even more to tears, everything works great, with some small bugs with DirecTV, but nothing that makes us think twice about going back to the old ways!
Now, THE BILL
We just got our bill, and though I trash previously paid bills to avoid paper clutter, I was able to bring up my bill payment history online. Here is what we paid from January through October:
And this is our current bill:
Breakdown of costs over the next 3 years:
What they wanted to charge us for 150 Mpbs, cable service and a landline we done even know the number to because we haven’t had a landline in 7 years – $8,280!
What we will pay for 1000 Mpbs speed, streaming all the same channels we want plus some we didn’t have before, no more landline, and straight purchases of streaming gear and equipment – $3,600!
Total savings over the 3 years – $4,680!
Excuse me while I book a vacation to Europe….
I am a current customer of AT&T, having been thrilled with my grandfathered “unlimited” data plan. Don’t be jealous, however, it seems that AT&T is beginning to throttle customers with unlimited plans in an effort to force them into their tiered plans. Since my contract is completely up with them, I have been weighing my options with other carriers. At this point, I am ready to hang myself over all the fine print.
With AT&T I get rollover minutes, plus they have a mobile-to-ANY-mobile plan (rather than just the same carrier mobile phones), which I find very attractive. What I do not like is that I will have to leave the unlimited plan I was in and go to a tiered plan, because right now AT&T throttles whoever they damn well want, even if they use data topping out well below even their first tier plan. Say you have unlimited data and your friend is at the 2 Gigs tier – both cost $30/mo. AT&T could throttle you when you hit 1.5 Gigs. And when they throttle, you are only able to text or use the phone – anything else because so slow it’s useless. And not just for a little while, it’s for the REST OF YOUR BILLING MONTH. A nice bit of news is that someone recently won a case against AT&T. The bad news is that individual people will have to take their cases to small claims court, because a class action suit is not allowed.
Friends on Verizon have been very pleased with their service, and they do have the only phone I would consider selling my right kidney for – the Razr Maxx. It has an impossibly long battery life, which is something most other phones have complaints about, and is something I HAVE to take into consideration when upgrading. I cannot afford to have my phone die 3 hours into my day, nor am I interested in buying $100 worth of extra chargers to keep in my office, warehouse, car and wherever else I might need to plug in. However, Verizon does NOT do rollover minutes, which means I will have to be extremely careful of my usage unless I go straight to an unlimited plan. They also do not have free mobile-to-ANY-mobile minutes, it’s only to other Verizon customers, and as a mother/step-mother to two young ladies, I have to keep a handle on that as well.
SO. Can anyone offer up any suggestions here? How are YOUR phone plans? What’s YOUR usage like? I am all ears.