I’m Getting a Blackberry

by Kevin on February 13, 2009

I’ve tried to avoid lifestyle inflation in the past in regards to Blackberries. I ran the numbers on the various cell phone carriers and determined we didn’t need to spend an additional $30-40 per month on additional services. To be honest, we don’t come close to touching out 700 minutes each month (which is the smallest family plan Verizon offers). We don’t do texting or e-mail or anything like that.

But it has always been something I would like to do. This is definitely a want, not a need. All it takes is a subtle mindset change to look at the situation differently.

So what gives? Why are we going to do it now?

I’m always shopping for deals. The kicker here is I’ve been in conversations with my Mom. She has an individual plan that she hardly uses. The plan is costing her $40/month and she doesn’t get much value from it. She may use 150-200 minutes per month. She’s been in the contract a while — she’s past her 2 year commitment and can do whatever she wants at this point.

Our contract is up this Sunday. Now let’s see if we can mix those two things together and come up with a good result.

Turns out we can move my Mom (from a different area code no less) to our plan when we renew for 2 more years as an added line. The cost of an added line is only $9.99. This brings our cost to $79.98 ($69.99 family share plan for two lines plus $9.99 third line). My Mom said she would love it if we saved her $10/month, so she’s still willing to chip in $30 each month.

Basic Blackberry service is $30/month (web and e-mail only). I’m not willing to chuck out an additional $15/month for corporate e-mail — I spend enough time on my work email at work.

We would also add $5/month texting for my wife and I.

The kicker is Verizon apparently has a 550 minute loyalty family share plan that you can go to when your contract is up for $59.99 for two lines. If we do that, this is what our costs come to:

  • $59.99 550 minute loyalty family share plan for two lines
  • + 9.99 additional line for my Mom
  • + 29.99 Blackberry web/email
  • + 10.00 texting on two phones

Total cost: $109.97 – $30 my Mom pays = $79.97. We’re currently paying $69.99 per month, so for $10 more I can get a Blackberry, we can get texting, and we save my Mom some money. Win, win, win.

But, wait you could just…

I know, I know. We could not get new phones, I could not get Blackberry service, and we could not get texting. We could just combine plans and lower our monthly costs.

That’s a logical argument. It’s a frugal idea. But I also believe in living a little. You can argue against it all you want — feel free! — but we’re going to stick to it.

Should be a lot of fun. I’ve got the money saved up to pay for our phones already so by next week we should be all lined up and enjoying our new phones.

What do you think? Am I turning my back on the frugal faithful? Burn me at the stake? Or hey, let’s live a little? … leave a comment and start the discussion.


Philip February 13, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I share a family plan with my parents, we originally signed up when we lived in the same city, now I live 500 miles away, still there are no problems. Our contract is up and we are looking at possibly switching service to somewhere, debating an iPhone and with those some parts of the plan are the same cost for 1 phone as it is for everyone on the family plan.

I have never used net on the phones, I do use texting, and the more you have it the more you use it. I say go for the family plan and get yourself a blackberry, and I can use you as a reason to get an iPhone 🙂

Matt SF February 13, 2009 at 1:26 pm

I think it’s a justifiable expense if you use it, but you have to really “use it” and not just send a few texts here and there. I carried a Crackberry for years and got accustomed to the life of quick Yes or No emails, but once I gave up a road warrior job, I gladly handed it over.

Mr. ToughMoneyLove February 13, 2009 at 1:40 pm

If you bought a Windows Mobile phone instead of old school Blackberry technology, you could get a straight data plan and get corporate email with full calendar and contacts sync (assuming your company has an Exchange Server) for no extra cost. Blackberry is like Bose = better technology through marketing.

Christina @ Northern Cheapskate February 13, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I don’t think you’re being frivolous at all! You’ve clearly done the math, weighed the options, and considered your needs vs. wants. I say, “Go for it!”

We share a family plan with my parents and it saved all of us $20 a month on our phone bill. The bill is in my name, and my parents just pay half the bill to us every month. It works great for us!

Mrs. Accountability February 13, 2009 at 3:19 pm

I just wondered if you checked for the deals you could get through Costco. Before Christmas, I got an email from Costco and I could have bought the Blackberry for $35 after rebates. I didn’t know our CEO was looking to buy one, until he got his in January. !! Anyway, I think it’s ridiculous that you have to pay extra money to talk for a few minutes on the thing. I barely text, I rarely take photos using my phone (carry my digital camera with me), but I do actually TALK on my cell phone. 😉 Thankfully this is a “want” that isn’t on my list.

outlaw February 13, 2009 at 5:20 pm

I have to agree with tough Money. A Windows based phone is great. I use the Motorola Q and it is great. Save money by not getting a blackberry.

Mary February 14, 2009 at 4:59 am

I think you should let your mom have her plan for what it will cost you – $9.99, and that she shouldn’t be financing part of your Blackberry, just because you want one. If you want it, you should pay for it.

Elena February 14, 2009 at 6:08 am

Don’t forget to add the additional service charges on all lines. Ho ho ho!

philip February 14, 2009 at 12:18 pm

To Mary, why not let his wife have the $9.99 plan and charge his mom the full cost of the other line instead? Really the $9.99 plan is being subsidized across all the phones.

Kevin February 14, 2009 at 12:29 pm

@Philip: Every situation is different. Make wise choices. I was turned off by the extra costs involved with the iPhone (texting is a lot extra, blahblahblah).

@Matt: Definitely. I’m planning on using it quite heavily for side business projects — which means I need to get going on having one other than this blog!

@ToughMoney: I can’t stand Windows Mobile. Just a personal choice.

@Christina: Cool stuff. Did you discount your parents cost, split it evenly, or…?

@Mrs. Accountability: If I am renewing with the same phone lines and same carrier then I don’t believe you can use any Costco deals. I wanted to get the loyalty plan which wouldn’t have been possible with an authorized reseller. Amazon had a $99 deal on the Storm but it was for new accounts, etc.

@outlaw: See my comments above 🙂

@Mary: I agree with Philip’s second comment. The line is being subsidized across all lines, and my Mom is fine with it.

@Elena: Yea, but there is only one additional line. I have a corporate discount which usually negates all of the taxes and fees.

erika February 14, 2009 at 2:46 pm

enjoy your blackberry – i just got one through verizon and it’s quite fun…i did the same thing – in looking at the discount i get w/ verizon from my company, it was worth the blackberry internet to keep my price the same as my other carrier 🙂
have FUN!!!!

Mrs. Accountability February 14, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Oh, Kevin you are probably right on that. I guess at the time my son was looking at getting a Blackberry and it would have been a new line for him. We have T-Mobile.

Christina @ Northern Cheapskate February 14, 2009 at 5:58 pm

We split the total bill in half, since there are four phones on the plan. It still ended up being cheaper for all of us than what we were paying individually.

We currently don’t have a data plan, but if we ever added one, we would pay for it… I wouldn’t make my parents split the cost with us unless all four phones had the data plan.

Before I became a stay-at-home mom, my parents did day care for our son. They refused any payment for the day care so we would just pay their part of the cell bill. (Talk about a great deal!) Now that I’m a stay-at-home mom, though, I make them pay their share. 🙂

DanL February 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Another thing that others may not have considered is the added business value of a Blackberry. I too just purchased a “crackberry” (well I wouldn’t say purchased, rather negotiated with Sprint to pay $150 instead of $450 without extending my contract!). The opportunity to address money making, or losing, business matters that a Blackberry provides is immeasurable. I work in the mortgage industry and I can credit at least one deal to the quick email response at 11:00 pm on a Friday night from my Blackberry. The money made from that deal covers the additional cost of my Blackberry for the next 3 years!
If it makes you money, and the money offsets the cost, is it a worthwhile luxury?

Pyrblue February 16, 2009 at 11:17 pm

I switched! To a “cranbarry”–it’s a blackbarry however RED. I too was non-texter, AND questioned why would I need access to my email when I have access to the WWW ALL DAY at work and home.
However I quickly discovered, as will you, that TEXTING ROCKS. It is so easy to text my boyfriend and ask him to stop at the store, rather than call. It is so easy to text my girlfriend and leave a silly comment….wow–life changing. Access to email and web, I still feel the same about…over-rated and cost way to much. However my service package is a “package” and unable to be “unbundled” I was told. Blah blah.
Enjoy your new phone!!!

Start-Up February 17, 2009 at 12:13 pm

I just posted on frugal splurging. I absolutely agree that you have to live a little. Life’s too short to not enjoy some of the finer things (keyword: some). I just bought a new laptop and while my old laptop still works, it doesn’t even function as a laptop (it has to be plugged in). Even though I spent some money when I didn’t need to (read as being unfrugal), I will be much happier with my new laptop and I saved a good amount on my purchase. I’m all about frugal splurging.

Kevin February 22, 2009 at 4:06 pm

@erika: I’ve enjoyed it thus far!

@Christina: Sounds like you are doing right by your parents. Good stuff.

@DanL: Great point. I don’t have much of a product — other than this blog — but I do hope to open up a side business in the future and use it that function then.

@Pyrblue: Yea texting is definitely new to us… I type really slow. Getting better.

@Start-Up: Exactly. The frugal life is not the hermit life… or at least it shouldn’t be.

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