Friday, February 05, 2010

5 ways medical students can save money on smartphones

If you're a medical student or a resident, you probably don't have the luxury of a really expensive smartphone plan. I remember those days when we were trying to save every penny because our finances were so tight. Of course, many people also have the luxury of student loans, so they may not be so budget-focused. For those looking for a few tips on ways to save money on smartphone plans, here are a few suggestions:
  1. Eliminate the data plan (if you have the option) and choose a very simple cell phone plan. Do you really need a data plan on your smartphone? Or, can you get by with Wi-Fi only? If you can avoid the $30-45/month that you're paying for a data plan, then consider buying an older used smartphone so that you don't need to pay for a data plan. Check with your wireless provider first to see if you'll still be required to pay for a data plan for specific smartphone models. On Verizon Wireless, there are several older smartphones that do not require data plans. You won't find them on the Verizon website, but you'll see them on eBay.
  2. Leverage coupons and resellers. Buy a smartphone through a reseller that offers discounts and coupons.  Do some searching online and look for savings like Best Buy coupons.
  3. Share minutes on a family plan. We all have family. Are they willing to put you on their family plan? Several wireless providers have recently expanded their family plans and now offer many options for families that even wish to have unlimited calling. Look for the cheapest cell phone plan that fits your needs and try to reduce your minutes each month.
  4. Get rid of your landline and use your smartphone as your primary phone. Do you really need a landline phone? If you don't, then you can save $20-30/month by getting rid of that landline phone.
  5. Use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)or Google Voice instead of your smartphone minutes. I'm paying $2.95 per month to have unlimited domestic calling through Skype. I'll get into Google Voice on a different blog post.
So, are these tips practical? Well, it really depends on how much flexibility you have. If you're frequently in front of a computer and you constantly have Wi-Fi access, then you might be able to get by without signing up for a data plan.


  1. The Family plans are definitely the way to go as you only have to pay $10 + data for each additional phone (or $40 per month plus taxes, fees).

    ATT has the cheapest Family Plan - $59.99 for 550 minutes. Both ATT and Verizon have 700 minute planes for $69.99.

    Another money saver: Don't get the text plan. iPhone (and other smartphones) have great 'push' email which works just as well as Text and is included in the data plan. You can even send SMS messages with email (eg: for ATT).

    The iPhone allows you to set up a Gmail account (and others) through Microsoft Exchange, which is great for 'push' email and 'over-the-air' calendar sync. Very slick!

  2. Nice Article. Smartphones are expensive devices, and require data plans, so if you are still thinking about buying one, think long and think hard. Smartphones are an investment on both the consumer and mobile phone company's parts.