A friend of mine lives under the shadow of a huge amount of debt. Six figures, I’m talking. All from graduate school. She makes a decent living now, but her monthly payments on her multiple loans suck nearly all her paycheck.
Here are 11 things she does to live with debt – and survive.
1. She has a simple phone, not a smart phone. Using Boost Mobile, she gets unlimited talk, text, and can check her email. But no web browsing. Plus, for every six months that she pays her bill on time, Boost lowers her monthly bill by $5. Her cell phone plan started out costing $50, but now she pays just $35 per month.
2. She lives in a cheap apartment. Instead of living in the city hub, she lives 30-45 minutes on the outskirts. It’s a safe, urban area that affords her many conveniences of city living, but her neighborhood is a far cry from a hot spot.
3. She doesn’t pay for a dedicated Internet connection. Instead, she checks which of her neighbors has an open connection that is strong enough to use.
4. She doesn’t own a car. Perks of living in a major metro area. To get to work, she takes the bus or rides her bike.
5. She hasn’t taken an international trip in years. When she goes on vacation, she usually goes to visit friends. She is luck to have friends with nice vacation retreats!
6. She takes hand me downs from friends and family. This gal never said no to clothes I stopped wearing!
7. She has a side job that boost her take home pay. I don’t envy her workload.
8. She rarely eats out and brings her lunch or dinner to work.
9. She haggles.
10. She shops at a nearby dollar store for home goods. I’m jealous of the classic white dishes she scored!
11. She doesn’t stress about when each payment for each loan (and there are lots of them) is due because she set up auto-pay early on. She pays the minimum on the low-interest loans, and makes bigger payments on the high interest loans. This way she is quickly paying off the loan that is costing her the most money!
Yazmin Cruz says
My dad tried Boost for a while, but dropped the service because he couldn’t get signal anywhere. Check their coverage area carefully before making the switch! Also, you must pay on time (as in a couple days in advance) or the “savings” reverts to what you where paying. Customer service was pretty awful, too. Boost was worst than AT&T — which we use now — if you can believe that.
Dad has always used a “dumb” phone. He’s tried different pay-as-you-go services, and found there are some good ones and plain awful ones. I feel a post coming on…
Bargain Babe says
@Yazmin Yep, that’s right. If you pay even one day late with Boost, any reduction (Boost calls it shrinkage) you’ve earned by paying on time goes away and your bill reverts to the starting price. So if my friend missed even one payment, her bill will zip up from $35 per month to $50 per month. But you can pay ahead three months at a time, I believe (or is it six?)
Curious how many pay as you go cell phone services your dad has tried…I find a lot of it depends on the coverage you happen to get, and the customer service needs that come up.
Boost in New York City (where I live) uses the Sprint network and coverage has been similar for me (I use Boost) to any major other network that I have used (AT&T, Verizon).
There are customer service rep’s at all of the places where you can pay your bill. Part of the greatness of Boost is the simplicity-with one bill rolled into one, there is very little to dispute each month-there’s no way to add in extra costs. You either pay it or you don’t pay-no discussion, and I love that. It is the simplest, easiest cell phone “Plan” i’ve ever used. i LOVE not having to worry about minutes, count texts, or scan my bill to check where I was overcharged and then call the company to haggle and argue with the rep. Simple, cheap, no hassles, no frills-i’m sold.
and at $35/month, i am saving so much money every month compared to friends that pay over $100/month!!!
Yazmin Cruz says
@BB, he’s tried several — T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Boost, and one sold at Walmart (can’t remember the name). His biggest beef with most of them is the bad coverage, and dropped calls. We were not told about paying in advance at Boost, but it may be true.
@Aicha NYC Boost sounds great. If it works for you (as in you actually get a signal bar), then it’s a great deal. We only had one shop near us about 2.5 miles way.
N. Davis says
I have to say #3 seems a bit unethical to me. If she doesn’t want to pay for internet service, then she should go to the library or another place with free wifi. Just because she has neighbors whose networks are unsecured (most likely because they don’t know any better) doesn’t make it right to piggyback on their service, especially if she does anything that will significantly hog the bandwidth and bog down the network, like streaming music or video. In some cities and states it’s even illegal to piggyback wifi, so what she’s doing may even potentially be against the law as well.
Even if you put the ethical issues aside, logging onto an unsecured network also puts you at risk of having your information compromised by someone else on that network. That’s why I never check my bank account or do anything that requires me to enter a password when I’m using the wifi at places like Starbucks.
Bargain Babe says
@N. Davis I’m not sure I agree with you on the ethical point about using an unsecured wifi connection. If someone leaves their connection unlocked, I think it is safe to assume they don’t mind other people using it. I’ve set up Internet connections before, and it’s easy to lock access and set up a password. Don’t think someone would have missed this step, especially because so few people leave their connections open.
Do you read The Ethicist in the Sunday NYTimes? This would be a great question for the column!
N. Davis says
You’d be surprised. Some people don’t realize that if their network isn’t password protected the signal could be strong enough for other people to get on it; even some otherwise tech-savvy people don’t know this. As an example, I used to babysit for a mid-30s very well-off couple, one of whom is a film/TV producer and is on a computer or smartphone pretty much all the time. My first night babysitting (after confirming it was OK to do some work on my laptop after the kids were asleep) I asked what their wifi password was. They had no idea what I was talking about. I explained that it’s a good idea to set up your wireless network to require a password to login because the signal could be strong enough for anyone nearby to jump on it, which they were surprised to hear. They had noticed that sometimes their internet seemed to be extremely slow, so they set up a password right away, and that took care of the problem.
Now imagine if that had been someone who worked from home and depended on a reliable connection to get their work done. Would it be fair to use their connection and slow down their upload/download speeds just because the person didn’t know their network should be password protected? I don’t think so.
Plain and simple, doing this is using bandwidth that someone else is paying for, thus reducing their ability to use it, which in my book makes it unethical. However, even if you don’t see it as an ethical issue, as I mentioned before someone who does this might even be breaking the law. Here’s one article that talks about the legality of it http://smallbusiness.chron.com/legal-piggyback-wifi-28287.html
N. Davis says
Here’s another article that gets into the legality of piggybacking an open wifi connection. It’s a bit more specific than the first one I posted http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/wi-fi-connection-laws.html
Bargain Babe says
@N. Davis I can see you’ve thought a lot about this issue and have done your research. Thanks for sharing these resources!
I have to agree with N.Davis here. It’s definitely unethical, and not at all safe. Anytime she uses her password someone else could get ahold of it. You can bet she isn’t the only one stealing that neighbor’s bandwidth, and one of the others might be an unsavory character.