Why I Ditched My Cell Phone

by Tammy Strobel on May 30, 2011

My friend looked at me with wide eyes and exclaimed, “You’re getting rid of your cell phone?! How are you going to survive?”

I giggled and said, “Don’t worry! It’s not like I’m never going to talk on the phone again. We’re going to use Skype for our phone service. And I think we’ll be just fine. I survived the first two decades of my life without a cell phone. Besides, if we discover that we can’t live without one, we can always sign-up with a new cell phone provider.”

***

Since our contract with Sprint ended a few months ago, we’ve been thinking about living without a cell phone. Last week we finally took the plunge and canceled our cell phone service.

The main reason we canceled our cell phone service has to do with mindfulness. It’s not about saving money. Although, it will be nice to save an extra $60 a month.

Cell phones aren’t evil and I’m not saying you shouldn’t have one. Like anything, they are tool that can be used for a lot of cool projects. For example, Freakonomics ran a story last year and noted how “mobile phones in developing countries are now used to provide farmers with agricultural information, remind patients to take their meds, gather health information in the field, and transfer money.”

Cell phones can do a lot of good in the world. However, I don’t need one. At least not right now. I need more time to listen and to pay attention. Unless I’m talking on the phone in a quiet place, I have trouble doing both.

Plus, I don’t want a devise glued to my ear all the time. I want to be in the moment. And I don’t want to be scrolling through my phone, sending text messages, or fielding phone calls when I’m hanging out with friends and family members.

The authors of Buddha’s Brain aptly noted, “Attention is like a spot light, and what it illuminates streams into your mind and shapes your brain. Consequently, developing greater control over your attention is perhaps the single most powerful way to reshape your brain and thus your mind.”

The number of incoming messages we receive in the digital age is never ending; there are cell phone messages, text messages, emails, tweets, Facebook status updates, and more. With no cell phone in my pocket, I have even more control over my attention.

***

Q & A:

Since we ditched our cell phone, friends and family members have been asking us a lot of questions. Below is a brief Q & A:

Question: How much does Skype cost? And how does it work?

Answer: My Skype number is $66 a year; that includes the phone number and unlimited calls. You can view the full price list here.

Skype works on my computer or iPod Touch. Basically, I need an Internet connection to talk on the phone.

Question: What happens if you need to call 911?

Answer: Skype doesn’t allow you to make emergency calls with their service. For now, we’re thinking about using Vonage or we might go with Cricket. Cricket offers a pre-paid cell phone plan and 911 calls are free. The phone would be for emergency calls only. It’s not something we would use on a daily basis.

Question: What if you’re lost in a big crowd and can’t find the person you’re with?

Answer: Going without a cell phone means we have to make plans in advance. If Logan and I are out and about in a big crowd, we set up a meeting spot in advance. That way if we lose each other, it’s not big deal.

Question: Have you noticed any drawbacks of not having a cell phone?

Answer: So far, no. But we’ve only been without a cell phone for a week.

Question: How will you get Internet in your tiny house? Will you still be able to use Skype?

Answer: Yes, we will be able to get Internet in the tiny house. For example, we’re looking into the Peel and a few other wireless broadband services.

For more on this topic, check out:

1 Sam May 30, 2011

Hi Tammy,

I’ve been reading your blog on and off for the past few years (I think when you first started your journey to simplify). I’ve been quite inspired by you and Logan in your journey. I periodically check in and catch up on months worth of posts…sort of a treat for me.

I’ve quit many of the so called essentials many a time. Both in an attempt to simplify and make myself happy, and to save some money as I love to save money. Since I’ve mostly had a pay as you go plan, just not renewing and not recharging my phone helped immensely. I since have carefully stepped back into the cell phone world, but friends and everyone else know that I only return calls at my convenience, not theirs. So the experiment was a useful one for me.

I look forward to reading more about your journey and thank you for sharing your experience :)

2 Tammy May 30, 2011

@Sam – Thanks for checking in and reading! I appreciate it. :) It will be interesting to see how this no cell phone experiment goes. So far I love it. But that could change. I’ll keep everyone posted. Wishing you all the best.

3 Jean Bellinger May 31, 2011

Yah! Better for your health. -Jean Bellinger

4 Lorna May 30, 2011

Very brave of you, Tammy. My cell contract isn’t up until November, but I am always looking for cheaper phone service. Keep us updated on how not having a cell phone works out for you.

5 Chelsea May 30, 2011

Interesting test to see how your life goes with out the cell. I’ve often thought if I didn’t need my cell phone for work I’d try life without it. FYI all cell phones are suppose to be able to call 911 even if not on an active service plan. So if you just want a phone for emergencies you could keep your current cell phone charged up for such an event.

If you ever decide to go back to a cell phone I’d suggest Credo Mobile. They are a company that donates a percentage of your bill to non-profits that you get to choose. I’ve been really happy with my service from them so far.

6 dev May 30, 2011

Indeed, any cell phone that can receive a signal can dial 911 pretty much, even without a plan. Also, another alternative for emergencies is to get a prepaid phone, and not give out the number to anyone (except perhaps your spouse for the reverse type of emergency, when they need to reach you). Instead of cell phone, it’s more like an emergency tool.

The downside is that minute expire, so you have to watch what you buy. Verizon and TMobile supposedly have $100 prepaid plans that don’t expire for a year. Not super cheap, but still cheaper than a normal plan, and then you have it in a pinch.

7 Becky Striepe May 31, 2011

I think the same goes for home phones and 911, but you might want to check on that. Better to find out in advance than at the moment you need it!

8 Tammy May 31, 2011

Good to know! Thanks for all this info. :) Unfortunately we already donated our old cell phones to a non-profit in need. Since we’re still in an apartment I’m going to follow Wine Harlots suggestion. http://rowdykittens.com/2011/05/cellphone/#comment-68670 :)

9 GE Miller May 30, 2011

Tammy – I appreciate the ideology of being more mindful, but isn’t a computer 100 times worse than a phone? It is, for me at least.

If you have a basic call plan (I’m assuming that’s what you had with the phone pictured above, if that’s yours) then the purpose of the phone is to talk and connect with others.

When you’re off in digital land instead, emailing, instant messaging, stuck in your RSS feed, it is much more difficult to be mindful than when you are on the phone talking with friends/family.

Doesn’t this move make you more reliant on digital communication versus actual oral communication? How is that making you more mindful? Help me understand.

10 Tammy May 31, 2011

Hey GE – Thanks for the questions. :) I guess it depends on how you use your computer. For me, I focus on single tasking when I’m online. For instance, when I’m responding to email, I’m only responding to email; the same goes for reading blogs, checking twitter, writing, etc. When you talk about being off in “digital land” that reminds me of the old Tammy (when I used to multi-task). :)

I don’t think this move make me less reliant on oral communication. I’ll probably have more of it. The best thing about Skype is that I can see the person I’m talking too, which is really cool.

For me, my cell phone had become a pain in the butt; another gadget that I had to carry around everyday. Overtime I was getting more and more text messages rather than actual phone calls. Personally, I find that annoying. I’d rather talk to the person instead.

So in some ways, using Skype is my way around dealing with 20 text messages a day. Instead I actually get to see a real face on the computer screen and if that’s not possible I can talk to my friends. Also, the buzzing of my cell phone constantly interrupted conversations with people in real life. I’d gotten to the point where I was leaving it at home all the time.

I hope that helps. And if you haven’t tried Skype, go for it. You can use it for free too.

P.S. Yes, that was my phone pictured above. We had a basic call / text plan.

11 Barb McMahon May 30, 2011

I love the thoughtfulness of this! That process works on every decision we make – asking not, is this a good or bad thing, but, is this the right thing for me?

12 Joshua | The Minimalists May 30, 2011

Nice work. I’ve been considering this for a while.

One thing to note (since I worked in the wireless industry for nearly 12 years): if you still have your old Sprint phones (or any old cellphones), you should still be able to dial 911 for free on them (I believe it has been a federal law in the US since 2004). Double check, but I think that will work for you.

Take care,

Joshua Millburn

13 Tammy May 31, 2011

Thanks Joshua. :) I’m looking forward to meeting you at the World Domination Summit! Have a great day.

14 rob May 30, 2011

fascinating.

I haven’t had a landline since 1999, but have always had a cell phone. I got a smartphone 18 months ago and it was the awesome pocket computer I always wanted. But the joy paled when I got the iPad and it took over all the smartphone duties except actual phone calls and GPS functionality. I’ve been considering more and more whether I’ll keep the service when the contract is up in December. I find it useful. But is it $80/month worth of useful?

Ironically, as time has gone on cell service at my house is actually poorer than it was in 1999, so I broke down and spend $10/month on the cheapest Vonage service. It’s good for me as even their cheapest service includes Canada and I don’t get charged “minutes” if someone else calls me. The quality is substantially better than skype, much as I like skype.

15 Elie May 30, 2011

I’ve been leaving my phone at home more and more, I’ve noticed. That, or I just keep in on silent and use it like a watch. It’s great to hear of someone going all the way…

16 Wine Harlots May 30, 2011

While you’re still living in an apartment, you don’t need to worry about emergency calls. If you have a telephone you can plug it in to any phone jack and make outgoing 911 calls (as well as receive emergency calls.)

17 Jaye May 30, 2011

Hi Tammy,

My niece recently volunteered in a remote village in Honduras. She was without cell phone, texting, and email for 10 days. She loved it, calling the experience “a great detoxification.” Smart girl!

Years ago, I decided that moments of peace and solitude were more important to me then being “on call” 24-7, so I’ve never owned a cell phone. Never regretted it.

Love your blog and am looking forward to your tiny house tales.

18 Tammy May 31, 2011

Thanks Jaye! Tiny house construction starts next week! We’re super excited. I can’t wait to document the process.

19 Jeanie May 30, 2011

I’ve been without a cell phone since March. I’ve been using Verizon Mifi + Skype # while traveling.

Now…that being said, it is a bit of a hassle because I have to carry & charge 2 devices.
In addition, it doesn’t “ring” whenever someone calls me, so that entails listening to voicemail.

Other than that…it’s nice to not have the phone going off constantly. I still carry the smart phone with me for email/Twitter/Facebook. When my mother joins the 21st century, then I’ll be able to keep in touch with everyone I care about with no phone at all.

20 Anna May 30, 2011

I have a cell phone, but I don’t use it much. I call my far away family and friends when I have some time to focus on talking to them (sometimes we skype). I’ve thought about getting rid of it except that sometimes my work needs to get in touch with me when I’m not there. I was a late adopter and I don’t have a smart phone. I’ve never gotten into texting a lot and it is easy for me to be mindful when it comes to my phone, so even though I would rather not have it, it doesn’t control my life like many people’s phones do :)

21 Frank May 30, 2011

Good for you Tammy! You continue to amaze me!!

22 Mary May 30, 2011

Being a single woman with an elderly mother completely giving up the cell phone is not practical for me…I need one when I’m on the road going to visit my daughters out of state and also need to be able to stay in touch with my mom. However….since I can’t get cell phone service at my home (very rural area with mountains all around) I use Tracfone…have for several years. I’m not inclined to talk on the phone much so I very seldom use all my minutes, so it only costs me around $20 every 90 days. I also have a land line bundled with my internet service. Tracfone also has a plan called Straight Talk which a lot of my friends are switching to…no contract, reasonable price and good service from what I hear. I’m in my early 60s so I’ve lived a lot of years without a cell phone…..I do enjoy the security it gives me on the road and the convenience to be able to make a quick call to check my mom’s grocery list when I’m out…but I could live without it very easily.

23 jill May 30, 2011

Hi :) I had a problem with my phone after switching to a new provider last month… haven’t been able to use internet or text (although I can “receive” texts). At first I was upset, but then I realized how nice it is! I’ve even left my phone at home on accident several times. I had my laptop with me, so could basically handle my biz that way from a coffee shop that offers free wifi while I was out and about : )

24 Jesse May 30, 2011

Heya, just to make a point here – if you bought your phone (and don’t mind keeping it around), you can use it for emergency 911 calls even without a contract, so long as it’s charged. Don’t know that you’d want to keep it around, but maybe if you had an emergency kit, you could keep it there? Just a thought. Looking forward to whatever you guys decide, and how it works out for you.

25 Rachel P. May 30, 2011

I am de-lurking to let you know that my husband and I have been without cell phones for a year now. When he suggested we toss our service I nearly choked. I had come to rely on my cell phone for many things and was aghast at the idea of getting rid of it. When he explained his reasons I was so surprised at his thinking that I hesitantly agreed. Now, I periodically thank him for bringing up the idea. The benefits far outweigh the costs.

26 Lisa May 30, 2011

I’ll second the any cell phone will call 911 thing. I’ve used a cell phone without any service to call 911 once before so I can vouch that it works.

27 One Heart May 30, 2011

Hi Tammy,

This may be the first comment from me, but I’m a long time reader :-)

I gave up my cell phone several months ago and don’t miss a thing about it. I feel so much freer specially when going out. And LOVE not paying the high monthly fee and being stuck in a contract. I was a little worried about traveling so at the recommendation of a friend, I purchased a ten dollar Tracfone and pay for minutes as I go. Averages out to 8 dollars per month. But it’s only for necessary calls while out.

Otherwise I use skype too and love it. I also gave away my stereo and DVD player, with the TV going next. I recently bought my first laptop and have it set up for listening to music, playing movies and watching fav TV shows at my convenience.

I want to have the least amount of gadgets for the most functionality I can get. And I’m not glued to my laptop at all. I call the shots and use my time as I please.

28 Tammy May 31, 2011

@One Heart – Sweet! Thanks for reading, leaving your first comment, and sharing your story. :) Super cool!

29 Chez Loulou May 30, 2011

When we moved to France 8 years ago we gave away our cell phones and planned on getting a new phone when we got settled in. A few months went by, then a year, and before we knew it, six years had passed and we still didn’t have one. I can count on one hand the number of times when I thought that it would have been nice (i.e., convenient) to have cell phone during that time.
Then my work situation changed and I was spending more time time driving around rural France by myself, so we bought a little 20€ phone and top up the credits when they get low.

Now Internet service is another matter…I would go through serious withdrawal without it! :)

30 Mike May 30, 2011

I switched from having a smartphone to prepaid service + Skype back in November and I love it. I found I was focusing more on the phone than I was on the conversations that were happening in front of me. Being able to save $65-70/month on phone service is a very nice bonus.

The only “downside” to not having a smartphone is when I travel. It’s nice to have Google Maps available in case you need to find mass transit or a restaurant. It’s not a deal breaker if you do enough research beforehand and keep good notes, especially if you don’t see yourself outside of town that often.

One thing about prepaid plans: Verizon is very expensive, and I believe Sprint is as well. You may want to consider AT&T and/or t-Mobile for prepaid as it is cheaper than the rest. I find that in general AT&T has good prepaid coverage and you can always port your number between carriers. My bill is mostly for a text messaging plan and I average about $15/month.

31 Tammy May 31, 2011

@Mike – Very cool. And thanks for the tips.

Traveling without a phone might be difficult. Then again, I have an iPod Touch, so if I have a wi-fi connection I can always look up directions. Plus, it’s always nice to chat with a local if you get lost or need a recommendation for a restaurant, etc. :)

Have an awesome day and thanks for reading!

32 Stacey May 31, 2011

Rock on!
For years now, I’ve had a prepaid cell phone as my only phone, and love not being stuck in a contract. I refill the card as I use it (which ends up being less than $200 a year), and I still have the convenience of a cell phone.
Good luck in your Skyping, sounds great!

33 Sunday May 31, 2011

I recently finished Twelve By Twelve and after reading about the woman in it who owned a cell phone that she kept powered down all the time except maybe once every couple of weeks to check messages I’ve been fascinated. I mean, why not? I loathe talking on the phone. I keep the phone only for text and email. If I’m not even using it as a phone, ever, why have it? My plan doesn’t expire until March of next year, quite a ways to go, but why not start practicing now to make sure I can really handle life without it? I’m so proud of you and so excited for you, and can’t wait to hear an update!

34 Tammy May 31, 2011

@Sunday – Ohhh I LOVE Twelve By Twelve. I read it twice last year and I’m considering reading it again. Reading about Jackie, her little house, and life philosophy made me rethink a lot of things. Particularly how much I used my cell phone.

Have an awesome day. :)

35 Kelsey June 1, 2011

I barely ever use my cell phone for talking. Last month I used it a grand total of 22 minutes, and that’s pretty average for me. I mostly use it for the GPS function, as a camera, and for occasionally checking email. Before I got my iPhone, I had been without a phone for 3 years, and really, it’s a lot easier than it seems. You just have to go back to *gasp* not knowing instantly about an email, or sticking to plans you’ve made with someone instead of being able to text a change, or having to use a map instead of a gps. I think it made me a better, more competent human being.

36 Robert Sanchez May 31, 2011

Nice to know that more people are re-thinking how the mobile phone is not that essential to one’s survival in the modern age. I too have thought that it has become obsolete but then decided that it was just a tool that one can use or not and that it depends on one’s lifestyle.

37 Jennifer May 31, 2011

We gave up our monthly plan almost a year ago and it’s been so liberating. I don’t feel like my purse is nagging me anymore! We have a land line through our internet provider and it comes with free long distance. Since we have a toddler and my husband has a thirty minute, slightly rural bike ride each way to work, we do have prepaid phones through T-mobile–not quite ready to totally let go of that blanket entirely. I’ve only used about 70 of the 1000 minutes we purchased for the year. And while I’m swinging with the wee one at the park, I’m astonished by the number of moms hunched over their phones, completely absorbed in texting or talking while their children play. It’s a bummer, really. I’d love to have a conversation with them, but they just cannot be bothered to disengage long enough to be part of today.

38 Jean May 31, 2011

I’m on a ‘just for emergency use’ plan with my cell phone carrier, and I would love to do away with the thing, all together. But I like to have it when on the road for highway travel, in case there’s a tree down in the road or I need a tow truck. Cell phone OVER-usage aggravates me to no end. Like those people who are surgically attached to the durn things….I do keep a land line, because it’s the only way that a VERY elderly relative can reach me….she’d never, ever learn a new phone number.

39 Brandi May 31, 2011

I hate cell phones. I consider them leases.. and I’m not a dog!

That said, I always have one on me.. but I actually can’t remember the last time I made a phone call or texted anyone. It often dies and I need to recharge it before I do either.

40 Kane May 31, 2011

I live in the UK and I’m shocked at the rates people pay in the US for a contract. In the UK it is possible to get a Nokia 6303i phone ‘free’ on contract with 300 minutes and unlimited texts for $22.50 a month or less.

Or you can go SIM only on a 30 day rolling contract with 400 minutes 400 texts and 500 MBs of data for $23 and buy a phone outright.

One network ’3 Telecom’ gives unlimited Skype calls on some of their mobiles and plans!

I understand the argument against having a mobile (cell) phone and have started carrying mine a lot less. Yet if one regards it as a tool rather than a ‘lifestyle choice’ I think that one can develop a utilitarian mindset in which it is a functional device and doesn’t assume a inappropriate level of importance in ones life.

41 Roberta May 31, 2011

Good for you, Tammy. I am using Google Voice, a VoiP service. It goes to all my phones (yes, still have them) but my iPhone is now essentially an iTouch – and yes, it drives me nuts to “have” to have it to check on emails, most of which are junk. On the other hand, I have a dog rescue so do need contact for that.

42 adrian May 31, 2011

I’ve been wanting to ditch my cell phone for sometime, but have a hard time figuring out how to – my cell phone is not only my personal phone, but also my business line. But, I could set my business up on Skype and just use my husband’s cell when I need it for personal stuff… It’d be so nice to not spend $94/month for our phones (and that’s just call/text plan!)

43 Forte May 31, 2011

How did we all survive without mobile phones years ago? I believe just fine.
I had a pay as you go phone for emergencies but the carrier cancelled my number due to inactivity. :)

Welcome to your regained freedom!

44 Karen T. May 31, 2011

Never had a cell phone; haven’t missed it. We have a land line bundled with our internet service and that works great for us. I hate to go shopping or to the park and see moms and dads out with their little ones, yakking on the phone and completely ignoring their child. When my kids were little I was always talking/listening to them! My oldest is now married and we keep in touch every day with email and have a face-to-face visit about once a month. Our relationship is tight (actually more peaceful than it was when she still lived at home).

After college I travelled all over Europe with two friends. Cell phones didn’t exist in those days, and somehow we managed to travel lightly on public transport with maps and guidebooks. We weren’t afraid to ask locals for info or directions. I was gone for two months and sent letters and postcards to my family. I guess if I had been hospitalized I (or one of my friends) would have used a land line to call collect, but thankfully that never happened. So when I got back home I hadn’t talked to my family for two months — we spent lots of time hugging and kissing when they picked me up at the airport, and I talked their ears off for hours!

The only reason I would carry a cell phone is if my job required it — say I was a Realtor or something. Good luck on your cell phone free journey!

45 Mike May 31, 2011

I got rid of my land line even before I moved out of my traditional house and into the motorhome, leaving my cellphone as my only phone. Of course it is just a plain dumb phone, not a pocket-sized computer. I think part of the reason a cellphone is such a distraction for some folks is that it has become so much more than just a telephone. As for VOIP, which is the generic term for Skype and similar services, I might consider it, except that I live in the boonies and routinely drive fairly long distances in an older car, so carrying a phone gives me the ability to call for help if I should break down. As for Skype specifically, I’d have to carefully consider if they’d be my first choice as an only phone provider since they’ve been bought out by Microsoft.

46 Tanja May 31, 2011

Hey Tammy,

I’ve got an inkling you’re going to feel liberated without it.

I decided years ago to skip the cell phone thing altogether so I’ve never owned one. I can see them being convenient in certain situations, but the convenience factor hasn’t lured me in yet. I think I’d feel too “wired in” to have a phone with me all the time!

47 Joshua Lance May 31, 2011

Real interesting and cool article Tammy. I’ve had a cellphone for just the past 5 years, and a landline before that. I wouldn’t go back to a landline, but thought about getting an I-Pod with Skype. I’ve even thought about how I could do art lessons or workshops via Skype, I think it has amazing potential. My only concern is if I’m traveling, can I contact anyone, or do they must have Skype for me to talk to them? Especially with emergency calls, thanks!

48 Natasha May 31, 2011

We actually just streamlined all of our phone service into our cellphones. No more landlines. No IM. No Skype. I set up rules for my phone: if I’m busy doing something else, people can leave messages; no messages no callbacks; if I’m on the phone with someone and a call comes in, that incoming call can leave a message — my priority is the person I am talking to right then and there; no messages, no callbacks.

And I try not to use my phone in public spaces. I’ve also limited my email reading to a couple times per day.

I’m just trying to keep a few boundaries but still be accessible. For me, the internet can creep up and take over my life more than my phone ever does so I turn off the computer for most of the day, but I can see how cellphones can be insidious like kudzu vines.

Whatever makes the most sense and works in terms of setting limits and creating personal space. It’s so easy to be plugged in and available 24/7 and lose your perspective. I applaud your efforts to reclaim your space and drop your cellphone!

49 Tammy June 1, 2011

@Natasha – Nice rule list! Thanks for sharing.

50 Vicki June 1, 2011

Hi,

My partner and I both gave up our cell phones in October last year. There has not been one time since then that I have wished I had a cell phone. I am saddened these days to observe people not watching the world around them but watching their screens and texting as they walk. Standing in the grocery store and watching people communicate on the phone “do we have milk?” etc. I agree not having a cell makes you more mindful. I check to see I have the items I need before going the store so I do not have to call back. Personal space is also an issue. I have lost count of the times where I get to hear the phone conversations of others as I sit on the bus or am walking on the street. My opinion is cell phones make people lazy. They are cash grabs for telecommunications conglomerates who bombard us with advertising telling us why we need a phone which is not only a communication tool but can also make us breakfast! Not to mention the waste when we upgrade phones every year. I suggest trying life without a cell phone ( if you can). It is suprising how much you do not actually need to be so “switched on”.

51 Karen T. June 1, 2011

Vicki, I think you’ve expressed my feelings as well! “Cell phones make people lazy.” How did we manage before cell phones to actually communicate with our housemates? We would talk to each other and say “we need milk,” or we’d (gasp) pick up a pencil and write a list! Cell phones don’t improve communication for most people, they worsen it.

And we do miss so much by constantly being hooked into screens (smart phones, computers, whatever) rather than the real world and actual people around us. It will be very hard to convince people to be mindful of conservation and preserving the Earth, or to care about people in need who live in their town (as opposed to anonymous people they’ve heard about on a news feed) if all of their attention is devoted to a screen rather than the real world they inhabit. As I stated in my comment above, it bothers me to see moms and dads engrossed in a screen while they shop with their little children. They are teaching their children to ignore them (just as they are ignoring their children who are right in front of them), and that’s going to bite them later.

52 Patricia Wehner June 1, 2011

Tammy,
I love my Tracfone. I spend about $30 every three months or so and it does exactly what I need. Calls and receives. You can get other stuff on it, but I don’t need it. I fill it up with minutes when I need to, and I don’t have to deal with plans, etc. It has 911 capabilities, plus it stores numbers, etc. It’s small and not in my way – which is the way I like things :)
Patricia

53 Brenda June 1, 2011

Wow! I think I’m definitely obsessed with my cell phone and have pretty good rules about not using during dinner, but overall, I need some fine tuning. Curious to see how this goes.
Best of luck.

54 Acupuncture in Leeds June 2, 2011

Yes. Mobile phones (I’m english) are the bane of modern life, creating anxiety (if you loose it, or heaven forbid I don’t reply straight away!); and interrupting the flow of conversations (I get annoyed when someones phone goes and they HAVE to answer it despite being in mid flow with me . . . I have been known to walk off . . . ). Is this just me? Surely not . . . ?!

55 Jo June 2, 2011

I get excited about things like this because a deliberate choice seems better than grumblingly taking calls (which I used to do). My husband and I gave up our cell phones about 18 months ago. For about 12 months, I migrated my number onto a pay-as-you-go scheme (which cost about $20/3 months), and recently I let that go and have let people have my work number if they feel uncomfortable about not being able to reach me. My husband did the same, but uses a Google Voice number which can ring anywhere and forward to any number, including a cell phone which he has when he’s out or even traveling overseas. Since he is a freelancer, this makes him reachable when he’s not at his desk. I really like this model.

The challenge for me is to keep connecting in a meaningful way with people, as some good friends like to talk by phone, whereas I’m naturally averse to phone conversations. Skype video has been awesome for staying connected, particularly to people who are far away.

56 Brendan Klem June 2, 2011

Hey Tammy

I was wondering if you looked into the phone service through Gmail. It is free for 2011 for calls within North America. You might want to try it before putting any money towards Skype. The service lets you call out as there is no # attached to your account that I can tell and the numbers get routed through California showing a number from there. Hope this might be of help.

57 Desiree June 2, 2011

I didn’t weed through the 56 comments – but have you heard of Ooma? If not, I recommend it! We’ve been using it for almost 2 years, the service is great and we’ve never had issues with it. It’s kinda pricey (about $200), but then the service is totally free.

So, it pays for itself pretty quickly. It is a VOIP, so you do need ‘ net, but you CAN make 911 calls, so that’s a better option IMO ;)

Anyway, sorry if I sound like a advertiser, lol. I’m not. Just a fellow Oregonian with a love for semi-free phone service :D

58 Meg June 2, 2011

What a great idea! I was going to give up my cell phone for the month of July, just to see what it would be like to not have one. The only thing I don’t want to do is rely on my boyfriends phone when I need to make a call which I think would happen. I really need to use skype more though. It is such a great service. I know when me and the boy go travel we will be ditching one of our phones. Probably his, since I have the iphone. Thanks for all the great suggestions and tips. I had no idea you couldn’t call 911 from skype! :)

59 Janice MacLeod June 3, 2011

I loathe my cell phone bill with the white hot heat of a thousand burning suns. However, I enjoy the convenience of it. I have a year left of my contract, so I’m not sure if I should bite the bullet and pay the cancel charge, or hang in there. This honestly preoccupies my mind. Not exactly simplifying. Ack! Also, as for 911. If you put your local police department number or fire department number in your phone, you’ll get help faster than with 911 anyway.

60 Tracy June 3, 2011

I went without a cell phone for two years – 2009/2010. My cell was a dinosaur anyways without all the bells & whistles so I didn’t feel like I used it enough to keep paying for it. I kept in touch with friends and family via email and didn’t miss the phone at all! I recently rejoined the cell phone world just because I am traveling more and like that feeling of security in knowing I can call home anytime. Now the temptation lies in upgrading to the newer models but I am resisting (so far). Good luck to you!

61 Christopher June 3, 2011

I cant wait to get rid of my cell phone! Unfortunately I have 2 years left on my contract and if I break it they will charge me 400 bucks. I figure I will spend way more than that during the 2 years of cell phone use so if I can save up the 400, Im going to axe the sucker! Im so looking forward to that day, it make me kinda giddy! Great blog…

62 Fox June 3, 2011

Why not just go with a “stupid phone” and tell your provider to cut off your ability to send and receive texts?

I’ve got a VERY basic 1000 minutes for $100 pay-as-you-go phone from T-Mobile. No internet, no texts, no Facebook, no Twitter. I answer or not depending on my mood, and if I don’t feel like having people call me, I turn it off. For me, it’s much simpler and more flexible than running Skype through my computer, which doesn’t have a very good microphone.

I’ve been tempted to ditch mine…especially since T-Mobile was bought out by AT&T…lo and behold, I started getting spam texts again…just like I did when I had AT&T. But I think ditching it would be more complicated than keeping the very basic phone I’ve got.

63 Calum June 4, 2011

Hi Tammy,

Very glad to have discovered your blog!

I broke my mobile phone last year and went without one for a few weeks. I absolutely loved it.
We definitely seem to be in a world where constant communication has not only become the “norm” but is also increasingly more expected.

I look forward to reading more posts!

All the best to you and logan,

Calum

64 Another Tammy June 6, 2011

Congrats! I hope to hear a recap in a month or two of how this is going. I think about doing this myself surprisingly often. I don’t like talking on the phone much, but in today’s always connected attitude, I actually get a lot of flack about it. One of my closest friends for the past 10 years has apparently decided she doesn’t want to be friends anymore since I don’t drop everything to answer her calls the second she decides she needs to call and rant about her job/husband/pets-that-she-thinks-are-her-children. That situation alone has made me contemplate whether a phone is really right for me.

But I’m not quite brave or independent enough to give it up, so here is my current solution: I changed my voicemail greeting to inform people that I don’t check my phone often these days so to try emailing me instead since that will probably get a quicker response. I do prefer email for 2 main reasons. 1: I can respond when it is convenient for me. People these days get frustrated when you don’t answer their calls because they know most likely that you have your phone within 2 feet of you at all times. 2: they have to get to the point of their message. None of this rambling without even wondering if I have time for a 30+ minute conversation. Now I only check my phone once or twice a day, and can respond to a short list of emails when i have time.

Thanks for bringing this up!

65 Pamela June 9, 2011

Like almost ALL of your posts, I responded to this by going “D’oh! another thing I should give up so I can be a better person!” accompanied by that gathering sense of negativity and self-dislike that I sometimes get by reading this (and several other blogs) that detail living out values I aspire to. But then! I had a wonderful flash of inspiration – my little sister! She is many years younger than me and a professional ballerina. She lives far away from me (and travels a lot) but we are very close. Our cellphones are like little direct-love-link connections to each other. We share lots of inside jokes, loving encouragement and hard questions via text message throughout the day. Basically, my cellphone brings me a lot of joy. From this post, I am reminded to use it more mindfully and respond with deliberateness to the text messages and calls that come in that aren’t from her (I am notorious for screening my calls/texts – I probably only answer 1 or 2 a day from people other than my sister. then I listen to voice messages once a day and respond at my leisure).

So – thanks for another great opportunity to not only critically examine a common stimulation-maker/brain-fog-inducer, but also to find an authentic “answer” in myself this time around!

66 KG June 12, 2011

Tammy – what a timely post! I lost my phone three weeks ago and still haven’t replaced it. After the first few days, I embraced the circumstance as an experiment to see how long I could go without one. So far, there have been no issues whatsoever. I communicate with folks by email. I invite people to stop by my apartment when they’re ready to meet up.

Like yourself, it’s not a financial thing. My cell phone is only $30 and I’m keeping the service (so I can check my voicemail remotely.) It’s been a huge personal development opportunity, though – when I feel uncomfortable in a social setting, I can’t take out my phone and pretend I just received a very important text. I can’t call someone while walking my dog. I have learned to fully experience and adapt to each moment, and become more self-sufficient.

Highly recommend the experiment.

67 Nina Yau June 29, 2011

You eff’ing rock, Tammy. I’ve been living without a cell phone since end of November 2010. Don’t care at all what people say about it. A person’s gotta do what she’s gotta do, and that includes not being chained to a mobile device.

68 Nicole June 30, 2011

ha! just yesterday I was replacing my old iphone with a new(ish) iphone4 and it got me thinking about the possibility of living without a cellphone. It seemed absurd yesterday but after reading your post I’m fully inspired. Maybe when my (now renewed) contract is up i’ll be ready to kick the cell phone habit! thanks for the inspiration. you are bold and brave.

69 Bob August 7, 2011

You can use your old cell phone for emergency calls even if it isn’t attached to a cell phone plan.

70 Dave August 28, 2011

I have a cell phone but only use it to call AAA if my car breaks down. So the whole idea of “trying” to live without a cell phone is pretty strange to me.

71 Alex Pino September 6, 2011

Andrea and I thought about doing this too. Well, mostly just me. She didn’t seem for it too much. We had the same LG phone that you had only with Verizon instead of Sprint.

A few months ago we got iPhones. I really like having it but I can see what you’re saying about focusing. And when you’re talking about smart phones the monthly bills are quite high so it can be a significant amount of money after a few months.

P.S. I like the blog’s new look! I thought it’d be weird without a sidebar but this is cool.

72 Phillip November 14, 2011

We have Magic Jack in our home. I was able to connect it to a phone jack, and it works all the phone in the house. Costs $20 a year. I also have a Google Voice number, that is free. Google Voice also allows me to text for free.

We have about a year to go on our Sprint wireless contract, and then I am dumping it for good. My cellphone rarely rings, and when it does it’s usually the wife. I do use it when I deliver pizza, but Papa Johns is not paying my cell phone bill so, if I can’t find your house, that’s too freaking bad.

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