Monday, March 29, 2010

Making the Break

You know you have a problem when the very first thing you do in the morning is hit the power button. Even before you pee. It's really bad when you can't ignore the little red flashing light telling you a new email has arrived. And you know that when you have chronic pain in your thumb, you officially are an addict. I'm making the break. After several years of Black Berry addiction, I am finally cutting the cord.

Why? Well, I have had some concerns about the safety of cellphones in general that I've written about before (see it here). Apparently texting is safer, but I am a complete ninny when it comes to texting. So much so that we have the texting features shut off on our current phones. I'm also home most of the time, or I'm driving with kids in the car and we're talking or singing, so calling is out. I used to be a regular driving/calling nuisance, but after realizing that I was getting frustrated with other driver on the phone, and they were probably saying the same things about me, I cut talking while driving. Not to mention the whole Oprah pledge. So I've decreased my cell usage dramatically, and now we are barely using 30 minutes each month between Honey and I, when we have a plan that gives us like 400 or 500 minutes a month.

But the email is a whole other story. I've had a Blackberry at work for several years, and had a really hard time with feeling cut off from the world when I left work to raise the kids. Honey got me a new BB and I was complete again. But...I think the ability to see the emails coming in does a few things that I'm not a fan of. It distracts me from my actual life. And really, what is so important that I need to drop everything and tend to it immediately? I work at home as a mom. Yeah I co-lead the HMN chapter, and do some volunteer stuff, but there is nothing "emergency" about that. Seeing that the pics are up from this weeks preschool class, that there is a sale at Lands End or that someone posted on my Face Book wall takes me away from what I am currently doing. Sometimes an email on the BB makes me feel the need to check something, email back, or otherwise cut the current activity short. It feels like I am not in control of my time and I am at the whim of others.

After looking at how much we were spending each month on cell service, and comparing that to how much we use and need, it seems obvious that we should just do it. I have a computer and can check my email during the day or in the evening. Honey can't even use his phone during the day since he can't bring it into his office. So really, we are perfect candidates for prepaid phones. As long as I can stand the withdrawal.

Well, now comes the exercise of finding the best company and the best value, and the absolutely impossible task of finding a way to use one or two of the multitude of old cell phones we have laying around. It pains me to buy a new one, but all of the companies' phones only work with their network. We have two Verizon phones, but they are so old the representative said they couldn't use them and we'd have to buy new phones. At $50ish bucks a pop, that seems counterproductive. And our current phones can't be used with prepaid service (OK so clearly that's a racket).

We found an old Tracfone and have started the process of changing Honey's number to that one. I ended up buying a partially recycled phone from T-Mobile. So for about $30, we both have phones and are ready to activate them and add airtime. It will end up costing around $235 for the year for phones and minutes, which is about $750 less than what we would pay for a year of our current plans. The only drawback is that there is no service we have found that will let us keep the phone activated and only buy the minutes we think we will use. Judging by our current usage, we only need about 400 minutes for the year between the two of us. The least we can buy is about double that. Oh well, maybe I'll suck it up and learn to text!

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