Schemes to part you from your cash

Clearly money is on my mind these days, next month is tax time which in self employed land means next month I have to get some cash to my pals at the IRS and Maine Revenue Department before I end up in a nice new home known as the federal penitentiary for not paying my taxes. Ok, I am joking about that last part (I hope) but the reality is I have to come up with some cash at the same time I have less of it. (once again, did not do a good job of paying the taxes in advance)

So I am doing all I can to reduce costs, regular readers know I have been struggling to reduce my grocery costs and other things. Last month I changed my services on my cell phone to reduce the bill, we were paying $150 a month for 3 lines…that’s service for me, Spousal Unit and Elder Boy. Well after talking to the fine folks at Verizon, we have brought the bill down to $80 a month. No more mega minute and text packages here. I know a lot of frugal living folks don’t do cell phones but with the nature of our jobs, being cell-less is not an option since I would end up giving a lot of folks I do business with my home number which I would prefer not to do.

So, I was feeling good about the changes and was reminded by Verizon that I am eligible for my every 2 year phone upgrade….you know the deal, you can get a new phone either free or pretty cheap for remaining a loyal customer. I have been a Verzon Wireless customer for probably 9 years now, I don’t have any complaints and since my credit is no longer stellar, the fact they keep me, keeps me happy.

Anyway I am browsing the Verizon Wireless site looking at all the snazzy new phones, seems I can get just about any except for a handful for free. First choice, a Blackberry. I call and talk to a representative who is all excited to get me hooked up with a snazzy new Blackberry, I’m getting excited thinking of all the fun things I will do with my Crackberry until the rep tells me I have to choose a data package. Wait, hold up. Is that going to cost me anything? Yep, turns out the basic package starts at $29.99 a month. Um….sorry, I will have to pass, I just got the bill down, I am not trying to get it up.

So I take a few days and go back to the site and start my search all over again for a new phone, so I settle on the Samsung Omnia, nice looking with a lot of features. Well it turns out its a smart-phone too, so guess what? I need to pick a data package. Ok, what the fuck is going on here? Look, I want to have a hip phone like everyone else but you mean to tell me I have to pay more? No, its not going to happen.

I spend more time looking at that damn site only to realize most of the phones anybody would want to get are so-called smartphones. As I told the Spousal Unit, clearly this is the new thing, you can either have a basic shitty phone like my current Razr or pay an arm and a leg for a smartphone.

While a smartphone looks cool as hell, truthis I have a computer with internet access at both my home and office, I only live a 10 minute walk away from my office, so I don’t need a smartphone I just thought it would be nice. Needless to say I will be using this current phone until it dies or they stop being able to support it which happened to a good friend recently, she had the same phone for 5-6 years and was told by her carrier who happened to be Verizon, that it needed to be upgraded.

I don’t know about you but at roughly $30 a month, in the course of a year, that same amount of money could fund something far more exciting than the ability to type this blog post on my phone.

So beware of trying to be frugal, everyone wants to make you part from your money. Hell, they will even offer you a free phone to get you to spend a ton more cash. Nope, I am not going to do it.