Today let's tackle living without a phone. It's hard for me to imagine life without a phone, I've not had to do without one for quite a few years now. But this does happen to everyone from time to time and it's necessary to know what all your options are if your in that predicament. Plus, maybe your like me and can't imagine living without two phones and can use some of these ideas to make it cheaper on you to have 2 phones for your family.
In our house, right at this minute we are with only one phone - a cell phone. Life is currently difficult with this one phone when we are used to having at least 2 phones for our family to use. But our home phone (which is through our cable company) is disconnected since I failed with my budget this month - OOPPS! But by the time you read this I will have the phone and internet back on (this is a Wed and it should be back on by Thurs night). Since this was a oops moment for us and not supposed to last more than 2 days I'm not bothering with getting any other option into place for us. If it was going to last more than that I would have went with the first options below.
Your first options should be internet calling/messages, government sponsored cell phone (if you qualify, more below), and last but usually first for us - a cheap cell phone & pre-paid plan.
If you have a computer and internet then check into Google Voice. I like it best of all and you can even get a usb phone to make it feel more like a traditional phone system. When you sign up you can pick a phone number and you can text and call from this number on the computer without anything more than a microphone and speakers. You also have the ability to get voice mail and call forwarding as well. It doesn't cost and you can talk for as long as you want. Another added bonus is if you have an Android phone, you can set this up on your phone so you use Google Voice instead of your phone plan. But your Android phone must have active service to get this to work initially.
Another option you can use if you have computer and internet is to use a service like Skype or Text Free. I don't care for Skype because I always have problems using it. But it seems lots of people really like it so you should give it a shot if your in need. Text Free on the other hand I really like to use both on the computer or on my Android phone. (I have a great Android phone but no plan.) You also get to pick a free phone number with Text Free which can be used for phone calls and text messaging (pictures and plain text). But with Text Free you only get 10 minutes initially for free and must either complete offers of some sort or spend money to get more minutes. That's why it's not a great option but is worth a mention.
If you participate in a government program that will qualify you, then a government sponsored cell phone may be an option. The program used to be called LifeLine but now goes by the names of SafeLink, Assurance, etc. Generally you can fill out an application online or get a paper application at most government assistance offices. You should qualify if you receive help from the following programs: WIC, SNAP, TANF, SSI, or Medicaid. Each program (SafeLink, Assurance) has their own "plans" and you get an option of what one you want, usually. They all will send a phone to use, which you don't get a choice and will usually be an older model of what's "hot" (most generally are not Android). They will send another phone if something happens to the one you received initially, once you notify them. You do have to re-certify each year.
And out of the "1st options" last is buying a cheap pre-paid cell phone & plan. The good thing about this is once you buy the phone, your only cost will be paying for the plan the next time your in need of a phone! Now first of all that you need to figure out is - do you have access to buy this online? Cause if you do then you just may find a better deal than what's available locally.
-----HOLD ON A SECOND!-----
Let me say first that I have no clue on the whole - locked/unlocked cell phone thing. I just go with finding a phone that comes with the company pre-paid card or logo on the package. The only time I try to switch out sim cards is if it's a card that a friend/family has in front of me to slip in and try or if it's super cheap -- like 10 cents shipping and all! Check out Amazon, especially if you have Prime!
Generally your looking to spend at least $15 for the phone. You may find as I have that the cheaper the plan is - the more expensive the phones are. Even so I would expect that $30 should still get you a basic phone with a company that has good plans available.
Plans usually work one of two ways - daily rates or monthly rates. It really depends on how long or often you plan to use the phone of which rate is best for you. Don't assume that since your short on cash the daily rate which is WAY cheaper is the best way to go because it also depends on how you load the money onto your account. Some companies only allow you to load $15 at a time, some will allow $10. Most companies will charge taxes too.
Also fully know what your plan means. For example - AT&T pre-paid daily rate plan ends at midnight and will not charge for the next day till you make or answer another call. Boost Mobile on the other hand will charge you daily till you have no more money available on your account.
I've found that AT&T is the cheapest and most widespread company to choose for pre-paid. Virgin Mobile is has the best texting options and even decent talk plans but their phones tend to be more expensive. Boost Mobile is cheap for a monthly plan and has cheaper prices for their phones but are shady when it comes to daily rate plans. Net 10 is a decent company but can be swindlers sometimes be warned! I completely swear off Tracfone and believe them to be nothing more than money traps for the needy. These things change all the time and my opinion is sure to be different than yours so just use this as a guideline.
Second options available when you need a phone - well there aren't many lol! You can do the old standbys pay phone (if you can find one!) or asking a neighbor but you also could look into asking a family member or friend to add a line or if they have an old pre-paid sitting in the back of the junk drawer. Sometimes a family member or friend will have a cell phone that they don't use constantly and will loan it to you to use for the day or even a series of days. The key is to make sure you don't use any minutes, data, or text limits up and also it wouldn't hurt to compensate the person as soon as your able.
Well, that's all I can think of for this topic for now. But as I sit here I realize that there might be room for another post on how to use an inactive Android phone with wifi as a phone or messaging option. I'll have to add that to my list of things to write on =) Plus I'll need to try out some other apps so I have a little more variety to tell about!