The phone of awesomeness

In one of Friday’s posts, I referred to the phone of awesomeness. I thought today might be a good day to talk a little more about that purchase since on first glance, it might not appear to be the most frugal purchase.

My husband and I were both up for new phones this year. He was using a five or six year old phone, which constantly dropped calls. I was using a two year old phone with a broken fliptop. One of the joints was cracked, so when you flipped open the phone the screen would pop out of that joint. Oh the joy!

When we started considering phones, we discussed if we should get smart phones. A few contracts ago, I had gotten a first generation Motorola Q. I hated it. My email never worked very well and it was hard to navigate around. I soon turned off the data plan and next go-round I got a regular phone. As my schedule started getting busier (teaching, running my accounting firm, helping my husband with his business, blogging, etc), I thought a smart phone might be a good idea. Here’s what I wanted my phone to be able to do:

Check my email from all accounts (firm, blog, school)
Have a calendar that was easy to use.
Must have GPS
Some other apps, like a mileage tracker, would be nice

I’m on the road a lot between school and clients so I needed something that could be a personal assistant for me, allowing me to connect with clients and students while I was on the road.

One day I was shopping at BJ’s and wandered over to the Verizon booth inside the store. The salesman told me they were running a B1G1 on the Droid. So, I could get two phones for the price of one and we could still use a family plan. There would be an additional charge for the data plan, but my husband’s discount would still apply (we get a discount on our cell plan because of his employer).

I use Gmail for my personal email and for the hosting of my business email. They were a snap to setup. I can also set up my school email on the phone. Because it’s all Google, my calendar linked to my emails also syncs to the phone. I can also see my husband’s calendar and we can send each other items to put on our calendars.

I’m still testing out a number of mileage calculators, but I think I’ll definitely end up using one of them. There are a ton of free apps which is very nice.

I think I’ve been way more productive since I got the phone. It allows me to get in touch with my clients faster when I’m out of the office, without having to give them my cell phone number. All my voice-mails from my office number go to my email so I can check them on my cell phone. I have my schedule with me wherever I go.

I used to keep multiple calendars so I had one in the car and one in the house. My friend, Doreen Stern, AKA The Life Docktor, thought this was pretty insane. She encouraged me to find a calendar solution that actually worked for me. I think this one finally does. Thanks for the encouragement!

 And the GTalk program is awesome. I can send my husband messages to pick up things at the store on his way home from work or just a quick note to let him know if I’ll be late.

The cost, for all this? Well, the two phones were $150 total. We had a credit on the account and they were B1G1. The service is going to cost about $120 a month, which is about $30 more a month than we were spending. We were spending $10 a month for the GPS service for my phone. Since it was built into the new phone, we no longer had to pay for that service and Jeff actually gets to use it too. I think with the added productivity we are getting, the phones will more than pay for themselves. Since I’ll be teaching full-time in the fall, I’ll be on campus more and the phone helps me stay connected with my clients.

Sometimes when you are weighing the costs of a purchase, you have to look at the benefits you’ll get from said purchase. Smart phones are not a necessity for most people, but when you are trying to run a business from the road, it certainly helps.

One thing that everyone should look into they they renew their phones is discounts! There are lots of discounts out there based on your employer, AAA, clubs and associations, unions and other factors. Make sure to ask your phone supplier if you qualify for a discount. You may also want to inquire to your employer and the other groups I mentioned above. Some of the discounts are as high as 15%, which could save you a few hundred dollars a year depending on your plan and usage.