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Decisions, decisions

J will be 12 in just over a week. We decided now was a good time to get her a cell phone. The vast majority of kids in her class have a phone; some have had one for years. J never needed one until this past school year, when she joined the drama club, which sometimes resulted in play practices being cancelled, added, or ending early or late. During those occasions, she had to borrow someone else's phone, which was not so convenient, to text the hubby, who, like many of us, hates to answer his phone for a number he does not recognize.

What solidified the decision was last month, when J spent a week at a Carnegie Museum day camp. I signed her up as a self-sign out, which meant, as the name suggests, that she could sign herself out each day, rather than wait for me. I had no intention of her actually doing that, but I figured if I ever ran late getting there (I was a 5-minute drive or a 9-minute walk), then I could just meet her at the entrance. Unfortunately, her very first day there, 6.5 hours after I left an extremely nervous child, I got stuck outside of the parking lot on my way to pick her up. There was a malfunction in the gate, and I did not get to a parking space until 10 minutes after sign-out. I was panicking like crazy the entire time, wondering if she would be sitting by herself somewhere. When I finally got out of my car, she was, in fact, standing alone, but, fortunately, she was quite cheerful. Still, the thought of my baby being outside in the city alone was quite unsettling. I very much regretted that she did not have a phone at that point.

So I have spent quite a few hours in the past week researching options. Having been with Verizon for most of the past 20 years, I have not really looked into anything else in a long time (lazy!). But when you are about to incur an additional monthly expense, and neither your nor your hubby's pay is going up, well, you should put some thought into it.

What I have found is that you can expect to pay around $30 to $40 per month for unlimited text and talk and some data. In many cases, it pays to have multiple people on the plan. I really, stupidly, thought I could add J onto my Verizon plan and pay only another $15 to $20 per months, but, alas, that is not the case. I get a 20 percent discount through work, but that is now on the data, not the phone lines, and data is the thing I don't need a lot of. In fact, after over 2 years on my current plan, I have yet to hit 1 gig in any month. J understands this phone is to be used for texing and talking primarily; data will only be used when she is home using the wifi. So getting a plan with a lot of data is just wasting money.

Fortunately, because I am indecisive and throw out many things to my FB friends, I took that route to ask for people's wireless experiences. A friend posted that Verizon is changing its plans this coming Thursday. That was surprising to me, as I had just read last week that they were going to a non-contract model. But this new plan/deal is actually pretty good. For $50 a month, a person can have unlimited text and talk plus a gig of data ($20 for the phone and $30 or the data). You can add another phone for another $20. Right now, I pay about $67 (with my discount) plus taxes to get 450 minutes of talking (and unlimited mobile-to-mobile), 250 texts, and 2 gigs of data. If I go with this plan, I will pay just $3 more to add my kid (but I lose a gig of data). I don't get the discount on data since I would be going with the smallest plan, but, still, you can't really beat that. I will, however, have to buy J a phone, so there is that additional expense. But one I feel okay about.

However, as I said on FB, I would not be surprised to find out that I really can't do this; the article the friend forwarded to me said, "Current customers can keep their existing plan or move to the new plan, with some restrictions." Hopefully the V-chat transcript I printed out from today will be the "proof" I need when I walk into the store later this week and a salesperson tries to tell me I can't do this.

Stay tuned. Here's hoping my next post sings Verizon's praises.

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