I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop for affordable, no-contract cell phone service has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.
At the beginning of the summer, I set myself a goal – to look for a mobile phone that offered the lowest price rate plan and best wireless service that I could find so that by the time school begins, we’ll have a third cell phone in place. Why a third phone when my husband and I already have mobile phones? The challenges of a busy, modern-day family trying to get by with one vehicle to share…
When I was a kid, we had two telephones in our house. The one on my mom’s bedside table was for nighttime emergency use only and off-limits otherwise, so it was the kitchen phone that was the hub of my social life. This phone had the long, curly cord that I stretched out as far as it would go in order to be able to talk from somewhere other than the kitchen table. Finally, during my teen years I used my hard-earned money to invest in a ‘cordless’ phone that would let me talk from anywhere in the house.
As a college student, the phone bill was a source of monthly mathematical gymnastics as we attempted to equitably divide local and long-distance charges between roommates. It wasn’t until I lived on my own after college that cellular phones became available, and I happily purchased my first mobile phone (a bulky thing which ONLY made phone calls) for ‘emergencies’.
Fast-forward a dozen years, three kids and numerous cell phone upgrades later – and I can’t imagine life without the ability to stay connected to husband, home, work, family and friends at all times, not to mention sharing photos and updates via social media, playing games while standing in line, reading e-books and more… We are a two cell phone family but keep our landline for the kids’ use.
Up until recently, this has worked for us – since the kids have generally been either out somewhere with one or both of us, or at home. But now that the girls are getting older, we’re finding that staying connected to them is getting a lot more challenging between juggling multiple school and sports activities as well as play dates and other commitments. Several years ago we made the decision not to replace my husband’s dying vehicle in order to save money. But although this works for us 95% of the time – as a one-vehicle family, we’re having to drop our 12-year-old off early or pick her up late more often than not, and I fully expect that to start having to occur with our 10-year-old this year as well since her calendar is generally even more full than her sister’s. The fact that Abbi is also starting middle school has me concerned with being able to reach her when I need to – or having her be able to reach us if necessary.
Thus, this summer I’d begun considering our options for adding a third mobile phone – one for the kids to share, so that it won’t be “Abbi’s” phone or “Hannah’s”, but can be given to either one of them as needed on a case-by-case basis (at age 7, Becca is top priority when it comes to drop-offs and pick-ups so she’s not likely to need it). We don’t really feel that the kids are old enough to need phones for their social use yet – our landline is fine for that. But being able to reach them (and vice-versa) via phone call or text – is rapidly becoming a necessity for safety reasons and peace-of-mind.
Ron’s and my iPhones are on a contract, but we don’t want to be locked into another 2-year plan. We just want a basic, no-contract, cheap wireless plan that we can try out – and if we like it, we’re thinking that we might even switch our phones over once our contracts are up. We don’t have a texting plan on our phones (paying per-text is costing us more at this point than a plan would) so having affordable texting is key as well.
When I first heard about the Walmart Family Mobile plan, I was intrigued by the idea of a no-contract plan that offers unlimited phone, text and data – and parental controls. So when I had the opportunity to participate in a #cbias shop and purchase a phone to try out the service for a few months, I was right on-board to see if it’s the best wireless option for our family’s third cell phone.
Earlier this week, I headed to our local Walmart and purchased a myTouch smartphone (on rollback pricing for only $129.88!). I was excited to see that the Walmart Family Mobile plan offers two pricing options – unlimited talk and texting for $29.88/month or you can pay $39.88/month to have unlimited data as well. It’s the lowest priced rate plan offered at Walmart and there’s no contract or fees, other than a one-time purchase of a $25 starter kit for each line. You can have up to 5 lines – and you save $5/month on each line after the first. If we do end up switching our existing phones over to this service, our total monthly cost for all three lines will be $109.64 – which is less than we’re actually paying right now just for the two phones we already have. Plus this would give us unlimited texting, which we don’t currently have.
I’m excited to try out the myTouch phone and the #FamilyMobileSaves service over the next few months as the school year begins and we ramp into our busiest time of the year for the kids. Just knowing that I’ll be able to text Abbi to tell her we’re on our way to pick her up or having her or Hannah be able to quickly text or call to tell us when practice is done – without having to beg an adult to borrow a phone (that I wouldn’t necessarily answer anyway, not recognizing the number) – is a huge relief. I’ve already set up Abbi’s and Hannah’s email accounts on the phone so we have a third way to reach them on-the-go as well.
I used the online account management and information to first activate the myTouch (so easy to do!) and then was able to verify our rate plan and set parental controls. Not only can we limit the amount of minutes the girls are allowed for talk, texting and/or web use each month, but we can set times of day that are allowed or off-limits, and set certain numbers that are ‘always allowed’ (even if they’ve used their allotted minutes up already) and to block any numbers we choose. And we can see all of the use on the phone – what numbers they’ve called or texted with.
So bring on school – and everything that comes along with it. We’ll be a family that’s in touch and ready to go! 🙂
Want to learn more about how to connect and save money with the Walmart Family Mobile plan, powered by TMobile? Check out the latest issue of Live SoFab digital magazine below for Smart Talk tips from 3 Social Fabric Bloggers – as well as other great back-to-school ideas!