Monthly Archives: November 2018

Communication/Education (con’t)

Communication/Education (con’t)                                                                                                                    –         I-phones compared to Androids. I am a big fan of Apple and all of their products. They make a great product. I am especially envious of their marketing savvy. They have been able to command a large percentage of the market with products that command a huge gross margin for their company. I am much too thrifty to actually use their products. There are many good products that use the Android operating system at a fraction of the cost of an I-phone or high-end Samsung. The phone I use is a low-end LG Leon. It has about 98% of the functionality of the I-phone 6 and my cost was less than $25 per month. In my research I am also finding that there are more “free” apps available for Androids since Apple controls all of the software for the I-phone. I have yet to pay for an app. There are numerous great android smart phones available for under $50. One provider periodically offers a buy one get one free on my phone for $29. Often that same provider offers a “free” phone.  

–         2G, 3G, 4G & 4G LTE (for smart phones): These are “generations” of cell phone signals and relate to signal speed with 2G being the slowest (similar to dial up Internet speeds), 3 G similar to lower speed broadband (about 3 MPS), 4 G (up to 10 MPS) & 4G LTE (1 ½ – 2x the speed of 4G).

–         Shopping for a service provider, read the fine print (costs can range from $7 to $80 per month) If you are only interested in talk and text then I would stay away from a smart phone program & go with a basic cell phone. Assuming you intend to take advantage of the “smart” phone functionality be certain to know what you are getting before making a decision. Verizon tends to have the best overall coverage & AT&T is a close second. T-Mobile and Sprint also have very good coverage, but may (or may not) market to your area. All of these firms provide coverage maps at their websites. Some providers buy service from one or more of these companies at wholesale & “resell” the service. Examples are Wal*mart which contracts with Verizon & AT&T (depends on which phone you are using) & Metro PCS which uses the T-Mobile service & is owned by T-Mobile). Unlimited service (for talk, text & data) can be purchased in the $25 – $30 per month range. These lower end unlimited systems will restrict the amount of 4G or 4G LTE data (usually 1 gig a month) and then the speed is reduced to 2 or 3G). If you do not do a lot of streaming these programs work very well and they give you the option of purchasing additional high-speed access should you exceed your allotment. Unlimited high-speed service can be had for $50 $60 per month up to as much as $100! If you have heavy streaming activity this may be an option?

Beware of “free” offers, they are not always free. Several providers advertise a “free” phone. In some cases, it can be the latest I-phone or high-end Samsung. I would caution you to do the math before deciding. Typically, these programs require a two-year contract in the $80 per month range. When you compare this to a $50 per month program you are actually paying $30 x 24 or $720 for the phone. The value of these phones depreciates at about 30 – 35% per year so at the end of the contract you have paid $720 for a phone worth less than $300. “Free” is hardly ever free.



–         Landlines vs. Cellular: Many folks have abandoned their analog based land lines in favor of a simple digital cell phone. One company offers simple (not smart) cell phones for $10 and programs for moderate use (180 minutes) at a mere $7 per month ($20 for 3 months).  These programs allow no extra charge for phone calls in the US & Canada. When compared to a land line at an average of $30 – $35 a month plus extra for toll calls this amounts to quite a bit of savings! Another way to save on a quasi-land line is to utilize a VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system. You will still need a basic land line connection, but most providers offer a basic line which allows for emergency calls and all incoming at a price in the $5 – $8 + tax per month range. Any outgoing calls would be charged at around $.10 per minute, but if you use a VOIP system you will never need to make outgoing calls on that line. One system that has been around for about 10 years is Majic Jack. The cost runs about $3 per month after an initial devise cost in the $20 – $40 range. On special, the initial devise cost comes with a free year of service. Calls to the US & Canada are free. Another system that can be used with a computer, tablet or mobile devise is Skype. Service is free from devise to devise & toll charges are very low when calling a land line or cell phone. International rates are also very low on this service.

–         Cell phone compared to “Smart” phones: The basic cell phone is great for phone calls and texts, but not so great for Internet use. If you use the Internet for emails and occasional surfing & download then it can be more cost effective to go with a “smart” phone with an unlimited plan. At the entry level these plans allow for unlimited phone, text & data, but the high-speed data is usually limited according to a monthly maximum. When that limit is reached the data speed is reduced until the start of the next month. If you are a moderate data user (just emails and occasional surfing   & downloading) you will most likely not exceed the limit.

More on this is next weeks posting


Clothing (perhaps the most difficult to control)

  • Clothing (perhaps the most difficult to control) 

–         What are methods to “stretch” your clothing budget? Time is the key to maximizing your clothing budget. The mark up on soft-goods is frequently as much as 400 – 500%. E-bay & Amazon are good sources to establish fair market price, but even better prices are available at retail when you make time your friend. Impulse is the enemy of a budget. I realize this concept may be difficult. The pleasure achieved from the “I loved it as soon as I saw it” is fleeting & later on you may wonder “What was I thinking”? Establishing what you need, flavored a bit with want you want combined with waiting for the right time will really stretch your clothing budget. Some folks are ashamed of shopping at discount stores for clothing. Don’t be. Most clothing today originates in Asia & many factories make similar quality clothing where the only difference is the “label” & thus the price. Many of the “brands” that have been established in Asia have the same quality standards as promoted brands.