What’s the difference between a locked and unlocked phone?

And does “jailbroken” refer to a cell phone that’s been in the slammer?

It’s tough, not to mention confusing, to keep up with all the terms that surround technology today. Terms like “locked,” “unlocked,” and “jailbroken” – what do they even mean and how, for the love of Pete, do they pertain to your smartphone?

Don’t worry. We’ve got you.

An unlocked phone is a phone that’s not associated with a particular wireless carrier. One of the big benefits of this is that you can switch providers anytime you want – like when you find a plan that gives you all the bells and whistles the pricey wireless companies promise at half the price. (But we’ll get to that in a minute.)

On the other hand, a locked phone is a device that’s tied to a carrier like AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon. These carriers “lock” your device to their network to prevent you from using it on another one.

Now what you need to know about a jailbroken phone is that it’s not the same as an unlocked phone and anyone who tries to tell you so is utterly incorrect. Jailbreaking a phone means messing around with its software and possibly installing a different operating system or tweaking the device so that, for example, apps that come loaded onto your phone that typically cannot be deleted, are deleted or hidden. It might sound like if you jailbreak a phone it would result in unlocking it, but it doesn’t. A jailbroken phone is still connected to its particular carrier. Don’t be fooled by someone offering to sell you a jailbroken phone and claiming, “It’s just like an unlocked phone!” It isn’t.

 

Why would a wireless company sell locked phones?

Excellent question. Locked phones are usually sold at a significant discount. You, or any consumer, sees an iPhone at a really low price at an AT&T or Verizon or T-Mobile store, and think “Wow!  What a deal!” Then you buy it – and pat yourself on the back for saving big time – but you also have to sign a lengthy contract which makes up for the price you paid. These carriers lock your phone so you can’t switch networks, get out of your contract, or sell your phone until they’ve recouped their loss. And lots of them lock your phone for two to three years. That’s rather extreme.

How can I tell if my phone locked or unlocked?

If you bought your phone from, say, AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile, and you have a monthly contract with them, your phone is most likely locked to their network. That’s just how they roll. If you bought your phone at Best Buy or at an Apple store or on Amazon, or someplace else entirely, it is most likely unlocked. They key phrase there is “most likely.” You can’t be certain until you check.

How to determine if your phone is locked or unlocked

 

1.

Check your settings: iPhone

One way to tell if your iPhone is unlocked is to go to Settings, then Cellular, then Cellular Data. If the words “Cellular Data Network” appear, it’s most likely – but not definitely – that your phone is unlocked. The pricey wireless providers really make you jump through hoops.

Check your settings: Android

One way to tell if your Android phone is unlocked is to go to Settings, then Connections, then Mobile Networks, then Network Operators. While in Network Operators, click on “search now.” If a variety of wireless carries names pop up, it’s most likely – but not definitely – that your phone is unlocked. Once again, pricey wireless providers will work your last nerve.

2.

Contact your wireless provider

You can call the customer service department for your carrier and ask them to see if your phone is locked. You can also request that they unlock it. If you’d prefer to talk with someone in person, you can always visit one of your carrier’s stores and do the same thing. For those who are more tech confident, it’s worth checking out your provider’s website to see if it offers information on how to unlock your phone. It’s important to note that, once you’ve requested your phone be unlocked, it can take your carrier 48 to 72 hours to do so. After that time has elapsed, call them to confirm that they have indeed unlocked your phone. You don’t want them conveniently – or inconveniently, for you – forgetting to do so.

Customer Service Numbers for:

AT&T: 1-800-331-0500

Verizon: 1-800-922-0204

T-Mobile: 1-877-453-1304

Cricket Wireless: 1-800-274-2538

Mint Mobile: 1-800-683-7392.

Straight Talk: 1-877-430-2355

Boost Mobile: 1-833-502-6678

3.

Try switching SIM cards
Another way to determine if your phone is locked or unlocked is by switching out the SIM card. Don’t worry, it’s easy. Simply borrow one from a family member or friend whose service is provided by a carrier different from yours.  Then test it out in this manner:

Shut down your phone.

Remove it from the case, if it’s in one, and then remove your SIM card.

The SIM card will most likely be located on the right or left side of your device. You can pop it out using what’s called a SIM ejector tool or – why give yourself a headache? – a paper clip. Press the clip into the small hole on the SIM tray panel and it will pop open.

Next, remove your SIM card and put in the one you borrowed. Close the SIM tray.

Now, turn your phone back on.

If you get a message requesting a code to unlock the SIM, your phone is locked to your network provider. If you can use your phone like you always do, make and receive calls, send and receive text messages, your phone is unlocked.

My phone is locked. Now what do I do?

If you’d like to unlock your phone – and why wouldn’t you? It’s your phone and you deserve the freedom to make provider and plan choices for yourself – you need to contact your provider. Again, you can visit your carrier’s store or see if there’s assistance on its website, and of course you can call. If you do, be sure to have your account password and IMEI number handy. You can obtain your IMEI number by dialing #06# on your device’s keypad.

It sounds like unlocking my phone is the way to go. But what are all the benefits to it?

  1. If you want to switch service providers for any reason at any time, it’s a whole lot easier – not to mention a whole lot less expensive – to unlock your phone than to go buy a new one. Think about it. Spend a few minutes getting your current device unlocked or plunk down $600 on a new one? We spending a few minutes is the way to go and we think you’ll agree.
  2. If you would like to sell your device there’s no wondering or hoping that the purchaser’s provider is compatible. When your device is unlocked, anyone can buy it and start using it immediately. No hassles. Now down time. An unlocked phone makes that transaction nice and easy.
  3. When traveling internationally or just making international calls, an unlocked phone allows you to use local SIM cards rather than paying the super high prices many providers charge. If you make a lots of international calls on a regular basis, you can save hundreds of dollars each year.

In short, the greatest benefit to unlocking your phone is the ability to change carriers because… you’re not getting great coverage…. or your sell signal is spotty… or because you discovered a plan with such tremendous savings for yourself and your family that it would be crazy not to switch.

Bring your unlocked phone (and your phone number, if you like) to PureTalk and save

At PureTalk we’re proud to offer you plans starting as low as $20 a month for unlimited talk and text and 2GB of data. We’re on the same 5G network – the most reliable network in the country – as the pricey wireless companies and, among families of four who switch to PureTalk? They save $75 a month for an average of $900 a year.

More about PureTalk’s plans: They’re all flexible, flexible, flexible. If you need more data one month, you can simply go into your account portal and add more. When next month rolls around, if you need less data, you can go right back into your portal and reduce it. Simply log on to PureTalk.com, click on My Account, and select Manage My Data. Make your changes, save them, and log out. It’s that simple.

More about that 5G network: As we mentioned, PureTalk is on the same 5G network – the most reliable network in the country – as the pricey wireless companies. The 5G network provides significantly greater speed and is more flexible, reliable, and secure than any network before it. What does this mean to you? It means not having to worry about whether or not you’ll miss your favorite podcast – you won’t, or connect with your college-age child or grandchild before he or she takes off on spring break – you will.

And more about those big savings: Because saving nearly a thousand bucks a year bears repeating! Families of four who switch to PureTalk save $75 a month for an average of $900 a year. That’s a lot of money; money that can certainly go toward better things than your cell phone bill.

Why choose PureTalk?
When you choose PureTalk, you’re choosing to support a company whose values align with your own. You’re choosing to support a company whose CEO is a U.S. veteran. And you’re also choosing to support American jobs: 100% of our customer service is based right here in the United States.

Even more importantly, PureTalk offers a risk-free, thirty-day money back guarantee. That means you have nothing to lose. Sign up and give us a try for one month. We know you’ll love us. But if you don’t, simply cancel your service within thirty-days and we’ll return your money without any penalties. Plus, with PureTalk, you can bring your (unlocked!) phone and keep your phone number or choose from our terrific selection of the latest iPhones and Androids.

So, you’ve got your phone unlocked or you just bought one right here. The next step is to pick a plan that meets your needs, suits your lifestyle, and helps you save.

Don’t wait a moment more. Get the most out of your unlocked phone today!

5G. 4G. 3G. What’s the difference and why should I care?

It’s everywhere: the announcements of the 3G shutdown, talk of 4G, and the new, improved – will someone please explain to me what it is! – 5G. Ads on television and radio. Ads in magazines. On enormous billboards. Ads everywhere and none of them explaining:

what 5G is

why poor 3G has to be shutdown

and where 4G fits in

It’s enough to make you want to crawl under a rock and not come out until someone sounds the all clear.

Well, consider the “all clear!” sounded. Right here, right now, we’re going to take the mystery out of all this G business. And believe it or not, it’s simple.

For starters, we’re going to break down 4G and 5G. We’ll circle back to poor, beleaguered, 3G later. Because by then its situation will be crystal clear.

Let’s address the G business first

G stands for generation of mobile communication. 5G is the fifth generation, 4G was the fourth generation, and 3G was the third generation. (I know, I said we’d address 3G later, but this tidbit you need to know now.) Each new generation is an improvement in mobile communication speed and other factors over the last. Having said that it should come as no surprise that….

5G is faster than 4G

Of course it is. But 5G has a lot more going for it than just that. Among other pluses, 5G also offers better bandwidth than 4G. Bandwidth is the amount of data, say, photos of your children or grandchildren, that can be transmitted over a network connection. And coupled with superior latency, which is the speed with which your photos of your children or grandchildren can be uploaded to Facebook or texted to friends, 5G trumps 4G every time. In fact, 5G will at some point be one hundred times faster than 4G.

Poor 4G. Can’t you just feel it going the way of the Dodo like sweet 3G?

Even though 4G can transmit those sweet smiling faces you adore in just 50 milliseconds, 5G – at some point soon – will be able to do so in 1 millisecond. 1 millisecond! It takes longer to blink your eyes!

5G also offers stronger connectivity, better coverage, and more reliability. That means your calls go through no matter where you’re calling from, or where you’re calling to. And that’s not all.

5G is also capable of handling hundreds of thousands of people being on their cell phones at the exact same time with far fewer disruptions in service. In geek speak, this is known as network density, and 5G’s is huge in comparison to 4G. To put it in layman’s terms – with 4G, if you’re at a pro sports game and try to send photos or texts, your smartphone probably runs more slowly than usual due to the number of other people doing the same thing at the same time in the same place with their smartphones.

With 5G you can forget those slow speeds, dropped calls and lousy connections. You’ll never again be able to tell your boss or your mother in law “You’re breaking up! I’ll call you as soon as I get reception!”

Hmm. Maybe we need to rethink this 5G business.

5G though is a huge deal for wireless companies and, more importantly, people who count on their smartphones to stay connected with their kids and grandkids, and who want to be able to call for help when their car breaks down in the middle of the night, on a dark road, in some little town they find themselves lost in.

Sorry. One of us has been watching far too much Virgin River. But you get my point.

5G is the pinnacle. Which is why 3G has to go bye-bye to make room for this incredible new technology.

But more about 3G… in a minute.

Right now, let’s delve deeper into the differences between 5G and 4G. You know you want to geek out and get into the nitty gritty.

The nitty gritty

So 5G is stronger, faster, so reliable it leaps tall buildings in a single bound (actually it does better than that: it can blow right through walls and buildings) and is the Superman of mobile communication.

But how does it actually work?

All mobile communication works by sending information over the air. 5G does as well,  but at much higher, much cleaner frequencies. This means those photos of your kids, grandkids, new car, new haircut, new house, are transmitted faster than ever before.

5G’s with the band. Actually, 3 bands

Remember how we mentioned that bandwidth is the amount of data, say, photos of your children or grandchildren, that can be transmitted over a network connection? 5G actually has three bands – a high band, a low band, and a mid-band. That’s another one of the reasons it’s better than 4G. As you can probably guess, the different bands operate at different speeds. The high band operates fastest, the low band operates slowest (relatively speaking; it’s still incredibly fast), and the mid-band operates at a speed between those two. Now here’s what’s cool about that. At some point, each band could be dedicated to a different user group. One for consumers, one for businesses, and the third for…. a variety of industries, or security measures, or… who knows? There are so many options and opportunities for 5G to improve our lives.

And, along those lines...

5G can be sliced and diced for further flexibility

Along with the three different bands, 5G networks can be used as separate networks. This is called network slicing. (Now we’re really geeking out!) The result of this capability is that each separate network can be used for a different purpose and a different form of mobile communication. 4G could never provide this kind of flexibility and the opportunities for new mobile communication improvements and advancements that come with it.

So, 5G will replace 4G, right?

At some point, yes. But not in the near future. As we mentioned, 4G is more available, and 5G is pretty much still in the starting block. For the time being, both networks will be utilized which is fine as most phones are 4G and 5G compatible.

How can I be sure my phone is 4G or 5G compatible?

You can check the box or manual, which should be accurate, but for safety’s sake, I’d go online and ask Google. I did, and was promptly informed that my iPhone 11 Pro Max is, sadly, not 5G compatible.

So I guess I need a 5G phone to get 5G, right? 

Exactly. You also need to be in an area where 5G is available. If you’re with PureTalk, you’re in luck as we operate America’s most reliable 5G network. Visit our coverage map and type in your zip code, hit enter, and in seconds you can see if your home is in a 5G area.

As we’ve already mentioned, the 5G network provides the best cell coverage at significantly greater speed and is more flexible, reliable, and secure than any network before it. This means not having to worry about whether or not you’ll miss your favorite podcast – you won’t, or connect with your college-age child or grandchild before he or she takes off on spring break – you will.

Now what if, like me, you need a 5G phone? PureTalk has you covered there, too. The iPhone SE 3rd Gen, iPhone 12, to name just a few, and many new Android devices, like the Samsung Galaxy 21 FE 5G, all support 5G and are available right here.

5G coverage. 5G phones. And plans that start at just $20 a month. That’s right. Switching to PureTalk saves the average family of four $75 a month. That’s $900 a year.

In addition, PureTalk offers a risk-free, thirty-day money back guarantee. That means you have absolutely nothing to lose. Sign up and give us a try for one month. We know you’ll love us. But if you don’t, simply cancel your service within thirty-days and we’ll return your money without any penalties.

But… back to 5G. Or more accurately, the fate of 3G. Because I promised I’d cover that and I keep my promises.

So what happened to poor, beleaguered 3G?

In general, 3G networks simply became outdated. And specifically, they became too slow. Really slow. As that happened, they began draining cell phone batteries faster and faster. The 3G network simply couldn’t keep up with the hundreds of thousands of cell phone users sending data over it. It wasn’t powerful enough, although it was a heck of a lot faster than 2G (as in second generation mobile communication because geeking out about this stuff is what it’s all about). Each generation of this technology gets bigger, better, faster, and more reliable. 3G, like 2G before it, got put out to pasture to make room first for 4G networks and now 5G networks.

Hold on, let me clarify that: 3G is getting put out to pasture. And it should be there by end the end of this year.

Wait. I thought 3G was already shutdown.

Not completely. Some 3G networks were shut down early this year, some are shutting down now, over the summer, and others will shut down by the end of 2022.

Once the 3G shutdown is complete, you’ll be unable to call for emergency assistance or call and text those children and grandchildren you love so much. I don’t know about you, but the latter part of that sentence is the one that worries me most! 

Of course the PureTalk 3G shutdown has already happened, so making the switch to PureTalk now guarantees you won’t be affected by it.

We’re sure you love your 3G phone, but it’s time to say “Thanks for the memories” and stroll confidently into the future. And we’ve got some terrific phone plans and phones that can help you do just that.

Hold on a sec. Are they going to get rid of 4G too?

The short answer is no. The long answer is also no. 4G has at least ten to fifteen good years ahead of it. All you need to be attuned to right now is the 3G shutdown and the fact that if your current phone is 3G and your wireless company is on a 3G network, you need to get that situation “sorted,” as our British friends like to say.

Why has the cell phone become today’s back-to-school essential?

There are dozens of reasons parents – even grandparents – need to be able to connect to kids during the school day.

For starters there’s the matter of “forgotten items.” You know, they call and beg you to drop what you’re doing to deliver … the homework they need now, the sports gear they’ll need later, the musical instruments the band instructor inspects daily, the egg they’re supposed to watch and care for like it’s a baby…

For forgotten items, they need a cell phone.

Then there’s the “I don’t feel well,” “My braces broke,” “They made us run in gym and now I think I have heat stroke” stuff.

And of course there’s the “I forgot to tell you I’m going to a friend’s house after school,”  “I need to stay for rehearsal so my friend Cody will drive me home later,” and the inevitable “What’s for dinner? If it’s meatloaf, can I order pizza?” communications.

For all of these announcements and requests – and many others – kids need to have a cell phone.

But that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to get them one.  

Get unlimited talk, text, and 2GB of data for $20 a month

Pure Talk is proud to offer you – and your student – plans starting as low as $20 a month for unlimited talk and text and 2GB of data. And even though our plans are budget-friendly, our service is priceless. PureTalk is on the same 5G network – the most reliable network in the country – as Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The 5G network provides the best cell coverage at significantly greater speed and is more flexible, reliable, and secure than any network before it. What does this mean to you? It means not having to worry about whether or not you’ll miss your favorite podcast – you won’t, or connect with your college student before he or she takes off on spring break – you will.

And speaking of kids, families of four who switch to PureTalk save $75 a month for an average of $900 a year. That’s a lot of money; money that can certainly go toward ordering pizza for your non-meatloaf loving student, fixing those braces, or paying for that spring break trip.

Just as importantly, PureTalk offers a risk-free, thirty-day money back guarantee. That means you have absolutely nothing to lose. Sign up and give us a try for one month. We know you and your student will love us. But if you don’t, simply cancel your service within thirty-days and we’ll return your money without any penalties. Plus, with PureTalk, you can bring your phone and keep your phone number or choose from our terrific selection of the latest iPhones and Androids.

Select the PureTalk plan that’s perfect for you and your student and start saving – and staying in touch – today.

Things to know once your student has a cell phone.

Once your student has a cell phone it’s practically guaranteed that he or she will be glued to it, or at least attempt to be glued to it. It’s kind of understandable, particularly if they’ve waited a long time to get one. But being glued to anything – a smartphone, tablet, television, gaming system, etc. – is never a good thing. So it’s up to you to set boundaries and direct your student’s digital consumption. Of course it goes without saying that they’ll roll their eyes and give you an attitude but remember: your house, your rules. And besides it’s for their own good.

Following are a few ideas for managing your student’s screen time.

Limit the amount of time your student can be on his or her cell phone. All kids – young ones, tweens, and teens – need boundaries and it’s up to parents to set them. Maybe allow them 15 minutes before they leave for school in the morning, half an hour before homework time after school, and an hour after their homework is completed in the evening to be on their phone. Limiting screen time is of increasing importance as studies have shown that mental health issues like depression, self-harm and suicide among US adolescents and young adults began to rise in the 2010s, not long after social-media platforms and smartphones were introduced. 

Get into their business. Know who your kids’ friends are, both online and off. Know their parents, if possible. And definitely know what social media platforms they’re on, what sites they go to online, and exactly what they’re doing on those sites. It’s also an excellent idea to be friends with your child on whatever social media platforms they are on: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. This way you can keep an eye on the user names of people who follow your child and also see if any of your child’s videos are being saved far too many times. Disturbing user names and videos that have been saved thousands of times are enormous red flags that require immediate parental involvement. Your student might not like being “friends” with you online, and you might hear, “You don’t trust me!” but stay strong and vigilant. There are, sadly, lots of parents out there who wished they had known who their kids were interacting with and what sites they were on.

Set the example. Consider ditching social media or limiting your own use to no more than 30 minutes a day. Your student may not follow your lead immediately, but give it time and spend the time you would have been on your phone doing things with them and others in your community. Real life friendships offer deeper levels of well-being than any friendship struck up online and spending more time with your kids is always the best investment.

Make certain areas and activities tech-free. No cell phones or tablets at the family dinner (breakfast and lunch, too) table and in restaurants. Same goes for family gatherings and social gatherings including things like church services. Keep televisions out of your student’s bedroom and resist the urge to have the television on as “background noise.” Create a cell phone station in the kitchen or other easily accessible common area where phones and other electronic devices can be charged overnight. The last thing you want is the light from a smart phone or tablet keeping your student awake or tempting her to chat into the wee morning hours with friends. If you don’t already have these “regulations” in place, it will take your kids time to get used to them but – hang in there. Studies show that the results of making these changes are more frequent and better family time, better sleep, better eating habits, and better academic performance.

Talk to your child about the realities of online privacy. Unfortunately, most teens – and even many adults – think that using a social media platform’s privacy settings means their words, photos, and videos are private. Far from it. Anything and everything your child posts instantly becomes part of his or her digital footprint – and anyone can access it. Colleges, future employers, clubs or associations they might one day like to join can and do find it all. And that includes photos sent while sexting. Your child might not post those images to a website or platform, but the mere act of sending them to someone means that photo is forever “out there,” unable to be deleted or removed and thus able to be found. Encourage your kids to think before they post or sext and to come to you if they make a mistake. Let them know that, while you don’t condone that kind of behavior, you will be there to help if necessary.

Talk to your child about online predators and sex offenders. These bottom feeders are everywhere. Social media platforms. Chat rooms. Gaming sites. Websites designed to look like gaming sites or online stores, etc. They prey on kids who appear, by virtue of their posts, to be vulnerable. Depressed, lonely, feeling alienated, bullied, abused in some way – kids opening themselves up about these and other emotions are the siren call to sex offenders and sex traffickers. The best thing your child can do is not post these feelings anywhere online. Instead, encourage them to come to you to talk or, if they’re too embarrassed, to seek the counsel of a trusted adult. A teacher, coach, grandparent, the mom or dad of their best friend. Kids this vulnerable need real help and posting on social media can only get them hurt or lead them to hurt themselves.

Screen time best practices for young children or grandchildren

Communicate face to face. Remember that little ones learn best by communicating face to face. Talking back and forth in a face to face conversation is critical for language development and learning to read social cues. They can’t get those skills from gaming or watching a show or movie. Two way communication is the key to strong language skills. And while in person is best, chatting with parents, grandparents, older siblings or far flung family members via FaceTime or Zoom works too and goes a long way toward helping kids become good communicators and students.

The importance of play. On the weekends, during school breaks, and over summer vacation, set limits as to how much time your child can be on the phone. Otherwise, frankly, they’ll be hunched over scrolling away for hours at a clip.  We know a woman who gives her kids an hour of screen time in the morning, another hour after lunch, and two hours in the evening to be on their phones or gaming systems whenever there’s no school. Other than those times, they need to be involved in unstructured playtime. That can be running around outside, reading, writing, pursuing a hobby, practicing a musical instrument, daydreaming, etc. All of these activities – including daydreaming – stimulate creativity. If you have very young children or grandchildren, daily playtime needs to be a priority.

Get in on their act. Play video games with your children or grandchildren. Watch a show or movie with them. Doing these things promotes social interaction and bonding. It also gives you a chance to share your own life experiences and encourage good sportsmanship. So get down on the floor, grab a controller, and let the games begin. Your kids will think you’re the coolest. And that kind of connection improves trust and honest communication. Something you’ll value greatly when they enter high school.

 

Want more to spend on what really matters?

Reduce these expenses

Everything – from groceries to gas to rent – is becoming more expensive. Just look at the cost of bread. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June of this year, the cost of white bread jumped 10.1% compared to June 2021. And the price of wheat bread and other “fancier” favorites spiked an even higher 11.6%. In terms of dollars that means that, right this instant, the cost of white bread per pound is $1.69. It’s insane. And it’s not going to get better anytime soon.

So, what can you do? You can reduce what you’re spending in other areas. It takes a little work, but it’s worth it. Here are several ideas – from packing your lunch to auditing your expenses to switching to a budget friendly cell phone plan – to get you started.

Pack your lunch

It’s easy to give in to the convenience of fast food. But going out to get lunch every day, at $10 or so a pop, is $50 you could’ve saved. And you could’ve eaten healthier, too. We know of one woman in the U.K. who has come up with time-saving way to make lunch sandwiches for her kids and herself. She pre-makes all the sandwiches in one sitting and freezes them, pulling them out on the morning she needs them. Her trick to preventing sogginess: she doesn’t use butter and she squeezes all the air out of the sandwich bag. One of the tricks to this is getting into the habit of shopping for lunch foods and preparing tomorrow’s meal before you go to bed. And until this habit gets really ingrained, leave yourself a note for the morning or you might just leave your lunch in the refrigerator!

Cancel those sneaky subscriptions

Cable television. Magazines. Gym memberships. Weight loss and meditation apps. These and others like them are subscriptions so many of us forget about, but still get charged for. Set aside time to review your credit card statements and checking account statements and you might be amazed at the number of items you thought you cancelled but are still paying for. Don’t have time to do it yourself? That’s ok. Try Truebill. The site searches forgotten subscriptions on your behalf quickly and easily. But just be aware that for every dollar you save by using the service, Truebill takes 40% as what it calls a “savings fee.” So if they save you $500 annually on a particular bill, they’ll charge you $200.

Do a home energy audit

Did you know that your coffee maker, toaster, phone charger and other devices suck up energy even when you’re not using them? They do – and they can account for as much as 20% of your monthly electric bill. In fact, according to the Alliance to Save Energy, the average U.S. household spends $5,550 a year on energy. Take a walk around your home and unplug the items mentioned here and others you’re bound to discover. You can also make your home more energy efficient by replacing air filters every three to six months, and making sure your windows, vents, and even the space around electrical outlets are properly insulated. This prevents your A/C in the summer and heat in the winter from being wasted. To see how you’re doing, ask your utility company to provide you a year over year expenditures statement so you can see if any of your bills are trending upward. If that’s the case, take steps immediately to stop it.

Lower your auto insurance payment

You compare the prices of electronics and pet food and clothes before you buy them, so why not compare auto insurance quotes? You can do it two ways. One, you can call around for quotes. It sounds old fashioned but we know one woman who made a few phone calls and replaced her $300 a month auto insurance plan with one for $55. In less than 20-minutes, she saved $2,940 a year. The other way is to go out to Experian.com or TheZebra.com. Both provide multiple auto insurance quotes in minutes. You can see all the best rates side-by-side, request information on the one that best meets your needs, and quite possibly save yourself more than $900 this year.

Delete delivery apps

It’s so tempting to have ready to eat meals delivered right to your door. And while they might make your stomach happy, your wallet won’t feel the same. If you’ve got apps like UberEats, DoorDash, and GrubHub on your phone, delete them. You can still treat yourself to occasional takeout meals that you pick up yourself, or an evening or two out at a restaurant, but those apps are notorious for charging exorbitant fees on orders. On top of that, you also have to pay the delivery fee and tip the driver.

Ask for a lower interest rate

Are you paying a high interest rate on your credit card or cards? Contact your credit card company or companies and ask them to lower it. They won’t offer to do it, but if you have a history of making your payments on time and for at least the minimum payment required, pick up the phone and call. It’s really quite possible they’ll agree to lower your current interest rate. Remember: if you don’t ask, the answer is always no. So ask.

Audit your expenses for 30-days

To really get a handle on your cash flow, you need to take a close look at what exactly you’re spending money on. From fixed expenses like car payments to variable expenses like groceries and entertainment, take the time to log them every day for one month. You can do this with an Excel spreadsheet, a Google sheet, even a notepad and pen. Of course you can also use your banking app or one like YNAB (You Need a Budget), which is terrific for IOS users, and 1Money, which is growing in popularity among Android users. At the end of the 30-days, you’ll see what you’re spending money on, how much, and where you could cut back. We know one woman who suspected she had an office supply “addiction,” so to speak. After her 30-day audit she realized she’d spent $212 on Sharpie pens, pretty folders, and notebooks she absolutely did not need. We’re pleased to report that it took her a whole minute to recover. 

Switch cell phone carriers

If you’re using one of the pricy wireless providers – Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile – you could save yourself a bundle by switching to PureTalk.

Pure Talk is proud to offer you plans starting as low as $20 a month for unlimited talk and text and 2GB of data. Even better, all our phone plans are flexible. If you need more data one month, you can simply go into your account portal and add more. When next month rolls around, if you need less data, you can go right back into your portal and reduce it. Simply log onto PureTalk.com, click on My Account, and select Manage My Data. Make your changes, save them, and log out. It’s that simple.

Just as importantly, PureTalk is on the same 5G network – the most reliable network in the country – as the pricey wireless companies. The 5G network provides the best cell coverage at significantly greater speed and is more flexible, reliable, and secure than any network before it. What does this mean to you? It means not having to worry about whether or not you’ll miss your favorite podcast – you won’t, or connect with your college student before he or she takes off on spring break – you will.

And speaking of kids, families of four who switch to PureTalk save $75 a month for an average of $900 a year. That’s a lot of money; money that can certainly go toward better things than your cell phone bill.

Why choose PureTalk?
When you choose PureTalk, you’re choosing to support a company whose values align with your own. You’re choosing to support a company whose CEO is a U.S. veteran. And you’re also choosing to support American jobs: 100% of our customer service is based right here in the United States of America.

Even more importantly, PureTalk offers a risk-free, thirty-day money back guarantee. That means you have absolutely nothing to lose. Sign up and give us a try for one month. We know you’ll love us. But if you don’t, simply cancel your service within thirty-days and we’ll return your money without any penalties. With PureTalk, you can even bring your phone and keep your phone number, if you like.

Select the PureTalk plan that’s perfect for your lifestyle and start saving today. We can’t bring down the cost of bread – or gas or clothes or pet food – but we’re happy to leave more in your pocket to put toward them.

What You Need to Know About the Best Mobile Phone Plans on the Market

With so many cellular phone businesses vying for your money, it’s difficult to tell which you can trust. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile all clamber, “Pick me!” with promises of low cost, unlimited data plans. But do you really need an unlimited amount of data?

About data

The majority of cell phone plans that feature unlimited data have what’s called as a deprioritization threshold. It’s like a cap on your data and, if you reach it, your activities like web browsing, watching videos on Facebook, etc., might be slower than you’re used to.

The standard data deprioritization threshold is 23GB, but most people use just 2-5GB per billing cycle. If you’re on the high end, at 5GB, that’s 18GB left on the table. The result is that you end up paying a hefty sum for something you aren’t using.

And that’s a waste of your hard earned money.

A PureTalk customer who switched from Verizon shared their bill with PureTalk and the bill showed the account holder paying $70 a month for 8GB of data, plus an extra 6.128GB. That’s just over 14GB.

Now, on the bill under Shared data usage the account holder has used just 3.7GB – across three devices – in the past month. With 14GB at their disposal that’s a lot of data left unused for a plan that costs close to $100. No wonder that customer was excited to switch over to PureTalk!  

The bottom line:

If you’re on a $70 a month plan which gives you up to 23GB of data (remember that threshold), this means you’re paying $3.04 per GB of data. And if you’re using just under 4GB a month, you’re paying $57.40 per month for data you’re not using. Ouch.   

How to find out how much data you’re using

If you receive a paper bill from your provider, the data usage information is most likely on the second or third page of your invoice. If your provider doesn’t include it, you can call or go online to request a more detailed bill. You can also do the following:

  • Log into your account from your computer and check the Usage tab.
  • Download your provider’s app and check the Usage tab.
  • Call your provider from your wireless phone:

AT&T: Dial *3282#

T-Mobile: Dial #web#

Verizon: Dial #DATA

 

Reasons to love data

Data lets you check in on your college student or grandkids via Facetime and Facebook. It lets you send pictures of your dining room redo to your best friend and receive photos of your buddy’s new boat (and fishing poles!) via text messages. It allows you tune in to your favorite podcasts, stream your favorite music, and watch as many movies as you like. And of course it lets you read and respond to email, shop online, and even shop IRL – in real life – by getting you to your destination using Google Maps.

Data is the secret sauce that fuels almost everything you love to do and because it does, you might think you need a lot of it.

Funnily enough, you don’t.

Web Browsing:

If you spend a lot of time on the Internet shopping or doing research, reading, checking sports scores, or making travel reservations, it’s quite possible to believe these activities take up a lot of data. But they don’t. In fact, even if you spent most of your time on photo-heavy websites, which use more data than those with lots of text, you still wouldn’t come close to the 23GB data threshold. And, more importantly, you wouldn’t even come close to going beyond the 2-5GB most people use per billing cycle.

One hour of web browsing = 60MB of data

60MB of data = 0.06GB

 

Facebook:

Once again it’s easy to assume that because you can easily get sucked into Facebook it uses a lot of your data. It really doesn’t. An hour scrolling through posts from your high school friends, neighbors you used to live next door to, far flung family members (or those you wish were far flung!), and community groups, uses about 80MB of data. That’s more than shopping online or doing research, but only because Facebook has so many photos on it. And an hour on Facebook watching cat videos, clips of Dancing with the Stars, and footage of puppies so cute you could cry, uses 160MB of data. Still, not a lot of data consumption.

One hour browsing on Facebook = 80MB of data

80MB of data = 0.08GB

One hour watching videos on Facebook = 160MB

160MB = 0.16GB

 

FaceTime:

FaceTime is great for dozens of activities. Keeping up with your kids, viewing prospective vacation properties from afar, and staying in touch with family and friends. And, like web browsing, it doesn’t use a lot of data.

One hour FaceTime call = 85MB of data

85MB of data = 0.085GB

 

Listening to Podcasts:

The typical podcast uses about 1MB of data per minute. So if you’re listening to a 60-minute show, you’ll use about 60MB of data. That’s so little data, you might as well listen to several episodes in a row!

One hour podcast = 60MB of data

60MB of data = 0.06GB

 

Let’s tally it up

60MB for 1-hour of web browsing

+

80MB for 1-hour of Facebook browsing

+

160MB for 1-hour watching videos on Facebook

+

85MB for 1-hour on FaceTime

+

60MB to listen to a 1-hour podcast

=

445MB or 0.445GB

That’s not even half a gigabyte. And it’s nowhere near the 1,000MB that equals 1GB.

 

The bottom line:

There’s a reason most people use only 2-5GB of data per billing cycle. And that’s because you’d have to spend every waking moment, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, online to exceed that amount. The average consumer doesn’t spend 24-hours, seven days a week online. That’s why the average consumer doesn’t need a $50, $60, or $70 a month unlimited cell phone plan.

 

The PureTalk approach

At PureTalk we don’t think you should pay for data you don’t need and aren’t going to use. That’s why we’re proud to offer you plans starting as low as $20 a month for unlimited talk and text and 2GB of data. Even better, all our plans are flexible. If you need more data one month, you can simply go into your account portal and add more. When next month rolls around, if you need less data, you can go right back into your portal and reduce it. Simply log onto PureTalk.com, click on My Account, and select Manage My Data. Make your changes, save them, and log out. It’s that simple.

Just as importantly, PureTalk is on the same 5G network – the most reliable network in the country – as the pricey wireless companies. The 5G network provides significantly greater speed and is more flexible, reliable, and secure than any network before it. What does this mean to you? It means not having to worry about whether or not you’ll miss your favorite podcast – you won’t, or connect with your college student before he or she takes off on spring break – you will.

And speaking of kids, families of four who switch to PureTalk save $75 a month for an average of $900 a year. That’s a lot of money; money that can certainly go toward better things than your cell phone bill.

Why choose PureTalk?
When you choose PureTalk, you’re choosing to support a company whose values align with your own. You’re choosing to support a company whose CEO is a U.S. veteran. And you’re also choosing to support American jobs: 100% of our customer service is based right here in the United States.

Even more importantly, PureTalk offers a risk-free, thirty-day money back guarantee. That means you have nothing to lose. Sign up and give us a try for one month. We know you’ll love us. But if you don’t, simply cancel your service within thirty-days and we’ll return your money without any penalties. With PureTalk, you can even bring your phone and keep your phone number, if you like.

And you can select the plan that’s perfect for your lifestyle and your data usage.

So take a moment to review your current cell phone plan. If the cost doesn’t align with how much data you’re actually using, check out PureTalk’s plans. Unlike those overpriced wireless companies, our plans are based in reality. And the reality is that you’re highly unlikely to ever use more than 2-5GB of data during a billing cycle and you shouldn’t be paying for data you don’t need, don’t use, and that – along with your money – is simply going to waste. Don’t spend more than you need to on your cell phone plan. Keep it in your pocket with PureTalk.

Get started here.