Cell Phone – Who Needs It?

In my head, there is a battle going on . . a battle about the cell phone!  One one side, I am so sick of seeing people driving while talking on the cell phone or eating out with their family while talking on the cell phone or trying to navigate the grocery store with a cart full of groceries while talking on the cell phone . . I just want to say NO!  I’m going to prove I am not that person and get rid of the phone completely.  But, then I know . . no one really cares whether I have a phone or not and me giving up my phone isn’t going to change a blasted thing!

The real battle is that we pay about $1,500/year for the two of us to have cell phones.  For some it’s worth it . . for me, it just isn’t!   I could get rid of the data plan, which is $15/month but that’s not really that much savings.  I could get rid of the texting plan which is $30/month but that’s the part of the phone I use the most.

$1,500 isn’t going to make or break our budget but . . it’s the principle . . it seems quite wasteful . . especially since we got rid of satellite TV which was about $900/year.  Then I think . . no cell phone and no satellite saves $2,400/year.  In ten years, that’s $24,000.  That’s pretty big.

I would want a cell phone when traveling but maybe just one of those pre-paid or other basic type phones would work for that.

First, we have to have AT&T.  Nothing else . . absolutely nothing . . we’ve checked . . will work here.  AT&T only works here because of the microcell.  Even with the microcell, if I walk more than 10 feet from the house, I lose cell service so having the phone doesn’t do me any good outside when I’m working in the garden or dealing with the chickens.

AT&T does have a plan similar to SmartTalk but it costs more than our current plan.  It does offer unlimited data and calls but we so rarely go over our limit.

Because the cell phone works off the microcell which works off the internet which works off electricity, any time the power or the internet is off, the cell phone doesn’t work anyway.

I could go with a cheap, no frills pre-paid phone for traveling and since I can activate the data plan on the iPad as needed, on a monthly basis with no contract, I could activate it when traveling but for the most part, I travel with my laptop and would rather work on it than the iPad anyway.

So  . . I’ve rambled about this ongoing battle about what to do about the cell phone.  To all you readers who always have such great advice . . please solve this problem for me!  🙂


  1. 1

    Bobbie Schneider says

    We are having the same issues in northern Wisconsin. I also hope someone comes up with a good suggestion.

  2. 2

    Cosmos says

    For several years I used T-Mobile prepaid. I had an existing T-Mobile phone, and I got a new sim card from the T-Mobile store, and I added minutes as I needed them. I averaged around $200 per year.

    I received a new phone as a gift, and it was an AT&T phone. I wanted to keep the no contract, pay as you go format, but AT&T had limited and expensive choices available. I ended up getting the phone unlocked and staying with T-Mobile.

    It sounds like you’re tied to AT & T because of the reception. Try asking again and again if they have some sort of prepaid plan. They may have changed. The issue I had with AT&T was I was adding data, which limited my options. They may have more options for voice and text only.

  3. 3

    Sharon in Michigan says

    My husband and I only have cell phones thru StraightTalk with is thru Walmart. We each purchase a $30.00 card each month for 1000 minutes Talk and 1000 texts. Our children and friends have the same – no house phones. It works great for us. We pull into a parking lot if we need to make a call, step outside the restaurant, turn it off in the Dr’s offices, etc. We do not miss our house phone one bit! Our phones work off towers so if the power is out due to a storm, we can still check on each other, etc.

  4. 4


    We have the same problem. We pay for 6 phones on our plan. Kids are responsible for their 15.00/month. Only my phone has the data plan. Unfortunately, I think cell phones for our family are a necessary evil with farming/ranching in the middle of nowhere! I will be anxious to see what you come up with as a solution…..

  5. 5

    Vivian Oaks says

    I think you’re off to a good start already. Just making a list of the pros and cons is at least a start. Keep working on the list for about two weeks. Every time you think of a pro or con, write it down. In that amount of time, you’ll be able to tell one way or the other. (I’m not sure I should do that – I’m afraid I”d realize I never should have bought a smart phone!!

  6. 6

    Linda says

    I used to work for the police department, and our chief always stressed for safety purposes, every woman should have a cell phone. Right now we have Verizon, but when my husband retires, we will probably go with the cheapest plan we can find. ( He works on a military base, and Verizon works the best.)

  7. 7


    T-Mobile has a new pre-paid plan–I think it’s unlimited phone/text/data prepaid–family plan $80/mo. We’re considering expanding to use it with our phones; currently we pay 10 cents/minute for calls and $15.00 for unlimited texting.. For home internet and phone service, we use WI-Power which works for so many parts of our state where there just are vast areas with almost no choices for phone or high speed internet. Of course, using either of these would mean you’d have to be in range of their towers.

  8. 9

    Barbara says

    No idea what would help you, but this is what I did and why…
    I rarely talk or text, so I don’t need a lot of the extras that some people need.
    I purchased a TracFone…I buy a card once a year (hundred bucks) it has double or triple minutes depending on the phone you purchase and that is more than enough for a year.
    And they roll over any unused minutes so I always have over two thousand text/call minutes available.
    I rarely turn my phone on, but when I need it it’s important that I have one and that it works (travel, storm, long distance) hundred bucks a year takes care of it.
    The first phone didn’t work, even though I’m close to a tower…seems I needed a TracFone without a Sim card out here in the middle of nowhere and that solved the problem.
    I can afford to pay a hundred bucks a month for a smart phone, so it isn’t a money issue…it’s just that it would be such a waste.

  9. 10


    For me it is a matter of having that cell phone which works anywhere as I move about. It also gives me service on my iPad anywhere…great when my Internet goes out. I also cover my grand daughters service . sometimes it’s not about the cost or changing the world…this is something I have learned as I live my life that I have to be kind to myself and this is one of MY kindnesses. Like you, it’s not the answer for every body and not a solution to YOUR current dilemma.

  10. 11

    Susan T says

    DH and I had no cell phone until about a year ago. Our kids talked us into one. Our vehicle is getting older, and since we do lots of travelling, it is our security blanket in case we have a break-down. We bought a phone with a pre-paid plan, good for a year. We don’t text or use the data plan – ours is strictly for phone calls. Our year is up in a couple of months, and we haven’t even used half of the minutes available. Our service is a Canadian one, and that includes the roaming charges when we used it in Florida last winter. It is handy to let our kids know if we are running late due to traffic, but we just aren’t heavy phone users!

  11. 12


    I’ve never had a cell phone. There have only been about four times that I can recall that I could have made use of one. I only got an answering machine with the last land-line phone I bought about three years ago. I always figured if someone really wanted to talk to me they’d try again. And if they didn’t it wasn’t a big loss. I find it extremely annoying when someone I’m with continually checks their phone for texts or answers a call and just expects me to wait around until they finish. I’ve made up my mind that when that happens I’m just turning around and walking away….they’re busy with their phone and I certainly wouldn’t want to interrupt!!! 🙁

  12. 14


    Funny how different people have different needs. This week I just cut off our landline to go strictly cell phone. Our landline seemed only to work for solicitors and I could never get it to call out when I needed it. I saved $30 a month and got twice the speed for the internet. We, too, are in the boonies and my old cell could never be relied upon. I recently got an iPhone and have had perfect connectivity.all over the property. Before, I almost had to stand on my left leg by the front door and point my finger up while deep breathing.

  13. 15

    Peggy Welchert says

    I am kind of the same way. My husband and I presently use prepaid phones. I hardly use mine at all. In fact right now I can only make emergency calls on mine. Someone told me I need to add minutes, but I still have minutes. My husband used text more then the phone. Neither of us use the internet on our phones. Since I have started working I can get a discount on a couple of different services, but I am not sure I want the contract. I am not connected at the hip to my phone and neither is my husband, but we want something when traveling or when we loose each other in a store…lol. Oh and cell phones don’t work well at our house either.

  14. 16

    Lee says

    The only cell phone I’ve had is a pay-as-you-go. It’s Virgin Mobile, no frills at all – no photo, blocked text, and from day one (this is the second actual phone) I have to use a computer to ‘top-up’ within the required time-frame and amount. The reps have never been able to solve the problem as to why it won’t let me top up from the phone – it is supposed to do that (the previous phone did). This phone isn’t terribly usefull in areas outside or far away from main highways and interstates though, or more populated areas, but that was fine for me as the only time my cell phone is even on is if I’m away from home in order to receive those “potential” emergency calls from hubs or kid and/or if I have a problem and need to reach someone. I use it so little I have well over $150 built up on it from the requirement of $20 top up every 90 days, lol.

  15. 17

    Lee says

    I realize something I wrote didn’t make sense…it should be clarifed to read that it IS most useful within closer proximity to major highways, interstates and of course in populated areas where towers are.

  16. 18

    Donna says

    I hate cell phones and only turn my on when I need to make a call then I turn it right back off. I only have it because my husband said I need it in case of emergencies. Cost is not a factor because I retired from a phone company and get it really cheap. I just hate the interupptions and rudeness of cell phones. Most folks act like it’s the most important thing in the world and it’s okay to waste my time while they chat. Emergency yes, waiting while you’re chatting away…don’t think so. My time is just as valuable as yours.. As far as I’m concerned cell phones have moved rudeness right up the scale.

    • 18.1

      Happy Room Diana says

      Here Here.. I agree entirely. My pay as you go gets topped up about once a year as I only have it for emergency calls.

  17. 19

    Marky says

    I am not a phone person, landline or cell. But when I travel I’m on the road alone, so I got a no frills Tracfone to use in case of emergencies or to contact family when I’m away from home. The phone is rarely even turned on until I travel. I buy 4 90 day/ 60 minute cards for around $20 each, each year. That’s almost a year’s worth of coverage for $80. Since I rarely use any minutes, I am buying more minutes simply because the time period has expired. The minutes do roll-over so I’m accumulating minutes I may never use, but I consider it cheap insurance for any time I might have an emergency. My way won’t work for everyone, but for those of us who use a phone as little as possible, this was a good option.

  18. 20

    Terri says

    We went to prepaid Trac Phones a few years ago, and eventually even went from two phones to one my husband and I share. We take it with us when we leave the house, and probably don’t use more than 20-30 minutes a month. We can text message, but there’s no data plan or anything like that. I’m not sure which service it uses though, so not sure whether it would work in your area. We have several to choose from here, and I’m sure that’s not the case in more rural areas.

  19. 21

    Micki says

    I think we all must be of a similar age. I also resent the intrusion of phones. Only have Trac phone for emergency, and don’t turn it on unless I have to! We are in a populated area and use AT&T , mostly for its long distance. I envy your ability to live in the country, but I guess no place is perfect!

  20. 22

    Kathy C says

    We splint our time between OR and Nashville.
    I have a pre-paid Verizon smart phone plan that costs $60 a month for unlimited talk & text and more data than I will ever use. I bought my own Samsung Galaxy smart phone from Amazon so I was not locked into a contract and it was less than $150.
    My husband has a Tracphone that costs him less than $100 a year.
    We DO NOT have a house phone in TN so my cell phone is the only number I use when we are there.
    We have a house phone here but only because our internet works off of it and our internet is on $15 a month that way.
    Every year we do a cost analysis and we really do spend our $ wisely.

  21. 23

    AngieG9 says

    I got rid of my home phone and went to cell exclusively after some severe falls, due to my MS. I would be caught in places that were hard to get myself out of and by switching to cell it stays with me day and night, but since I hate, hate, hate talking on the phone it is usually only used for emergencies. I don’t text because it would take me an hour to type in one word, so I had everything taken off except the basic phone service. My grandson, who has better eyes than I, programmed the family’s number in, and also put 911 on the top for when I have to call that, so now I am more confident wherever I go. I do not answer the phone on the bus, in the grocery, at a restaurant, or anyplace outside my apartment, because if it’s important they will leave a message, or call back. I refuse to use call waiting because that is so rude, and when anyone I am talking to asks me to hold while they answer another call that could be important, I get the message, and immediately hang up. If my call isn’t important enough for them to talk to me, so be it. And if they are the ones calling me, which is usually the case, since I hate using the phone, and they get another call and tell me they have to take it and ask me to hold on, that’s it as far as the call goes for me, and at times the friendship as well. I may be overly sensitive, but they called me, and if I’m not important enough to them to talk to who really cares in the end. BTW, I have AT&T, with roll-over minutes, and usually by the end of the year have almost 5000 unused minutes. More than I need, but when there is illness in the family I spend more time on the phone than usual. I just know that I do need the cell because it fits in my pocket and always goes where I do, so if I fall and get trapped under the desk again, I can get to my phone to call for help.

  22. 24

    Linda Smith says

    I only use my cell phone for long distance calls and for necessary calls when I am out running around. No chatting, or talking while driving, no texting. One day when I went to the Woodlands, I forgot my phone. I was lost, and couldn’t find the building where my appointment was located. Finally, I stopped at HEB and asked where the “pay phone” was located. They didn’t have one, or a phone for customers. I couldn’t find a phone to use anywhere in the area, and no one could give me directions. Before you dump your phone, be sure businesses in your area have a phone you can use in an emergency.

  23. 25

    shannon says

    I’d miss mine for sure, especially now that I have a smart phone with a good data plan. My four kids all have phones and I do feel a small comfort in that. Between our water bill and phone bill, we’re almost bankrupt. LOL I don’t like that their one more chink in our society, though. My husband and older daughter have had words numerous times over their use at the dinner table. My husband can never not seem to call, text, or email because of work.

  24. 26

    Deb k says

    I agree, Judy. I only care about texts/calls from my husband, daughter and son. When they are around, I am quite content unplugging. Nothing else needs my attention and I am quite content.

  25. 27

    Katherine says

    I use virgin mobile, which I know is not AT&T, but it is cheap and gives me what I need. I almost never text on my phone, because it is such a pain, but I do text on my iPad from home, using Google Voice with wifi, for free. So if you mostly text from places with wifi, you could do that for free.

  26. 28

    Claudia Wade says

    I have 2 children who lead VERY busy lives. They both work full time, they both have 2 children, and 1 is a single mom. If I didn’t have a cell phone with unlimited texting, I would rarely get to hear from them. As it is, we can communicate when any of us are on the move, which greatly increases the chance that we will actually catch each other. I would not be without my cell phone for anything in the world.

  27. 29

    carla says

    att has a go-phone. i pay $100 for a year of air time. text and calls reduce the amount on the card. i’ve had to refill my card at the end of the year with still $80 left on it. $ rolls over if you recharge before your airtime runs out. kids do the same, go-phone. they pay $20/month for unlimited texting.

  28. 30

    Mel Meister says

    I don’t know what I would do without my cell phone. My husband uses a tablet, but I prefer to use the phone and a data plan. A tablet is just too big for me to carry around.

    It’s all just a matter of life style. What’s great for one person doesn’t work for someone else. You have to make your own decision on this.

  29. 31

    Sara says

    First, I have Net 10 pre-paid. I have about a gazillion minutes, because they roll them over and I don’t use it that much. However, I have to buy days of service. I get 300 min for 60 days for $30. And it is a PITA to remember to call in time. The main office is in Miami, but customer service comes from Belize. It is an adventure to make yourself understood. I do have reception almost everywhere, and we live in the backwater of Alabama.
    Before this I had Verizon. It was pretty good, but I thought expensive at $50 a month. My cousin passed away and I was his next-of-kin. While dealing with his death, all calls I received where he lived had roaming charges attached. In less than 2 weeks, I had almost a $400 phone bill. I paid it, then called Verizon. If you have a death in the family, and let them know right away (who thinks of this?) they will give you a lot of allowances. But not after the fact! Because I had gone past my contract, and they wanted to keep me as a customer, they made my bill 200 min for $18 a month. Do they tell you that? No.
    So my point is ask, ask ask “what can you do for me to keep me as a customer?”
    Because we are in the boonies, we have to keep the landline in order to keep satellite and internet. They are tied together. I love it when Charter calls, I always tell them if they are willing to lay cable to my house, I’ll sign up right away! Good luck, just ask them what else is offered.

  30. 32

    pdudgeon says

    Judy says: “I could go with a cheap, no frills pre-paid phone for traveling and since I can activate the data plan on the iPad as needed, on a monthly basis with no contract, I could activate it when traveling but for the most part, I travel with my laptop and would rather work on it than the iPad anyway.”

    Judy, it sounds like the only thing holding you back from a change is figuring out whether the thought of saving $1500 a year is enough of an incentive to get around your dislike of using the Ipad for texting.

  31. 33


    In the end, it’s all up to you, Judy. What is more important to you. I only have a cell phone – no land line. I don’t think I could do without my cell phone. I do too much driving out in the country and in areas where I would really be up the creek if I had an accident or something else happened. I also rely on mine for driving directions, finding restaurants, stores, coffee, etc., while I’m traveling, etc. Finally, your not having a cell phone is not going to stop idiots from talking on the phone while dining with friends, driving, or just walking and running into things. I too have a hard time believing some folks can be so rude and inconsiderate. Here in Oregon, it is against the law to talk on the phone while driving unless you have a hands-free device, and they are considering making it illegal to talk on the phone while driving even with a blue tooth earpiece or dash speaker. They say it’s dangerous to talk on the phone while driving regardless, but I’m wondering how different it is from holding a conversation with someone who is in the car. At any rate, I do have a blue tooth ear piece, but I rarely talk in the car.

  32. 34

    Helen Koenig1 says

    I don’t like them – partly because of the cost – but mostly because I see it as a way that people “distance” themselves or keep from making personal contact with others (sort of an extension on the “don’t bother me, mommy is on the phone now” idea) – whether from their children, from unpleasant tasks, from personal contact with friends (non-phone – real face to face) or family. I also see it as a way to “warn people off” – people using cell phones while walking, shopping – whatever – sort of like carrying a “don’t bother me” sign on them. For some I see it as a status symbol (“I’m important – my cell is always busy”) while for others I see it as a way to fend off the alone-ness. None of these do I really see as good.
    Mind – there ARE real needs (forgotten items for your dh to pick up at the store, emergency use) but those needs I see as very few. And personally – I would rather have REAL contact with friends, family and no way would I want to use this as a way to avoid work (although I’ve seen others do this!)
    I have a cell phone – a prepaid cell phone – which 9 times out of 10 I forget to renew the monthly fee. I don’t like them. At all.
    Son and his dw have them – but both use strictly for texting each other when asking about something or when one is going to be late getting home for whatever reason. All of which in my book is very legitimate!
    Dd and her dh get one when they go o on a trip. That’s it.
    NONE of us like to see the grafted phone hanging like an extra appendage from the ear.

  33. 35

    Rita Schiavone says

    I have a Prepaid minutes phone. It’s a Nokia Phone with T-Mobile Service. I’m like you…I don’t ever drive and talk…if I need to call someone or answer the phone, I pull over and stop.

    To be honest, I only have a phone for emergency purposes. The car I was driving (finally got a new car in November 2012) was 23 years old with 284,000 miles on it. I decided a couple years ago to get a phone just in case I broke down someone (I’m constantly driving to places up to an hour away from me)….but like you didn’t want to “break the bank” with a plan. This prepaid has worked out great for me!!