The Fall of Landlines and Rise of Cell Phone-Only Households

Here’s an interesting chart from Statista showing how landline telephones are slowly dying away and being replaced by cell phones only.

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In 2004, more than 90 percent of households in the U.S. had an operational landline phone – now it’s (significantly) less than 50 percent.

We use our cell phones almost exclusively, but we technically have a home phone line (though not a landline). If you still want home phone service, consider purchasing an Obi200 VoIP box and use it with Google Voice to get free home phone service over your internet at the great price of $0 a month and no taxes. Setup takes under 15 minutes and you can use your existing landline phones.

We should be thankful that long distance phone calls no longer cost so much, as I still remember the days of calling cards and when 10 cents a minute was cheap. (I’m getting rather old…) Heck, we are only paying $6 a month for unlimited cell phone service this year.

Sprint One Year of Free Unlimited Data Plan: Still Available

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Updated: Offer still available, my 6-month update. Sprint still has a pretty solid promotion that isn’t being advertised (TV, radio, newspaper, etc) and is only available online to new customers. If you bring over your own eligible smartphone and sign up at sprint.com/1yearfree, Sprint will give you a free year of unlimited talk, text, and data. You have to pay $3 a month in taxes and fees per line, but there is no requirement to continue service past that. Offer is valid for 1-5 lines. For example, if your household bill is currently $100 a month, this promotion is worth $1,200. If you pay $150 a month, that’s $1,800 value.

My experience.

  • Offer keeps getting extended. I signed up in June 2017, but they keep extending the offer each month. I guess they are still desperate to grab new customers. It could still end at any time.
  • Sprint will perform a hard credit check. They will check your credit, so be aware. It was worth it to me for the several hundred dollars in savings.
  • The total cost for two SIMs was $15.98 + sales tax ($2.99 each + $10 flat shipping). If you order by 2pm EST, they will send the SIM cards that same day by UPS Next Day Air.
  • Activation was quick and easy. The activation process was done 100% online, and it took under 20 minutes to swap SIM cards and port the existing numbers over. To complete activation after you get the SIM cards, you will need your SIM card #, phone IMEI/MEID #, and current carrier’s account number and PIN.
  • Some people have been successful switching from prepaid service, especially Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile Prepaid. Use the checker tool at sprint.com/1yearfree. Another tactic is to first move to T-Mobile’s cheapest prepaid $3/month plan ($10 minimum load) and then immediately port over to Sprint.
  • My total monthly bill is $6.xx included all taxes and fees. No funny business at all so far. This matches with the online reports of monthly bils in the $3 to $4 range including everything.
  • Sprint coverage is somewhat worse than my previous carrier (Verizon), but it’s acceptable. I only notice this in terms of slower data speeds. I don’t get many bars of 4G LTE and sometimes I am stuck on 3G, which is a bit sad in 2018. (This never happened with Verizon.) I am not a heavy data user (video streaming, etc) so I think the slight inconvenience is well worth the $100 a month in savings. I haven’t had problems with dropped calls or a complete lack of coverage, as I was afraid of initially. Of course, coverage is very local. Check OpenSignal for a better local comparison.

Important requirements and fine print:

  • You must bring over a phone that is already unlocked and compatible with Sprint (so that you just need to switch SIM cards). If you have AT&T or T-Mobile you may need to call them up and ask to unlock your phone. See list below, but enter your MEID and phone number to check eligibility.
  • You must own the phone(s) you’re bringing to Sprint. (Not on a lease plan.)
  • You must still pay a small monthly fee: “standard $1.99 admin fee, $0.40 regulatory fee and other taxes and fees apply.”
  • The $30 activation fee is waived as part of this promotion. The fee will appear on your first bill and a credit will appear within 2 bills.
  • Requires a Sprint SIM card ($2.99 each + $10 shipping), paperless statements and Sprint AutoPay ($5/mo./line discount applied within two invoices). If AutoPay and eBill are removed, a $7.99/mo. charge will apply.
  • This deal is not available in any stores, you must sign up online through the special website above.
  • According to the terms, you must port-in from another postpaid carrier. Sprint requires a hard credit check on all new postpaid customers, including this offer.
  • If you keep the service past the first year, you will then start to pay $60/mo. for line 1, $40/mo. for line 2 & $30/mo./line for lines 3-5.
  • This plan also comes with Sprint Global Roaming, which includes “data up to 2G speeds and text messaging in any of our 165+ Global Roaming countries at no charge, plus calling for just $0.20 a minute.”

Details about the Sprint Unlimited Plan:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data subject to the following limits below. Data deprioritization applies during congestion after 23 GB.
  • Stream video at up to HD 1080p, music at up to 1.5mbps, gaming at up to 8mbps.
  • 10GB of high-speed mobile hotspot data per line. Once your 10GB is used up, continue at up to 2G speeds (32 Kbps) for no additional cost, or purchase more on-network high-speed data for $15/1GB until the monthly billing cycle resets.

The following phones are eligible:

  • Alcatel IDOL5
  • Apple iPhone 5c (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 5s (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 6
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
  • Apple iPhone 6s
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
  • Apple iPhone 7 (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 8 (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone SE
  • Apple iPhone X (Verizon only)
  • BLU S1/VIVO S
  • Essential Phone
  • Google Nexus 5 (16 & 32 GB – black/white/red) (Verizon only)
  • Google Nexus 5X (all versions)
  • Google Nexus 6 (32 & 64 GB – black/white)
  • Google Nexus 6P (all versions)
  • Google Pixel
  • Google Pixel XL
  • Google Pixel 2
  • Google Pixel XL 2
  • HTC One A9 (Sprint Version only)
  • LG X Charge
  • moto e4
  • moto e4 plus
  • moto g4
  • moto g4 play
  • moto g4 plus
  • moto g5 plus
  • moto g5s plus special edition
  • moto x pure edition
  • moto x4
  • moto z2 play
  • Orbic Wonder
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile)
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile)
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ Special Edition

Bottom line. Depending on how much you are paying now, a year of unlimited talk/text/data for $4/month/line could be worth hundreds to over a thousand dollars. I’ve been on this plan since June 2017 and while the coverage is somewhat worse than Verizon in my area, I would say it is 90% as good for 5% of the price. If that sounds like a good deal to you, then grab an eligible phone and sign up while it is still available. If you don’t have one of the phones above, you could probably buy a new Android model for under $300 or a used one for under $100.

If you prefer Apple iPhones, on the cheap end you could get a used iPhone 6 64GB for $200 or used iPhone 6S 64GB for $260 and then get a brand new battery for $29, which should last you a while. Alternatively, you could just take the hundreds of dollars in savings and buy a new phone with it.

Berkshire Hathaway vs. S&P 500: Shrinking Edge?

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It is well-known that the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) is Warren Buffett, and that its long-term performance has crushed the S&P 500. This is usually illustrated with an impressive chart like this one from Business Insider: I'm currently … [Read the rest]

Big List of Free Consumer Data Reports (2/2): See Your Confidential Rental History, Insurance, & Employment Data

Links updated 2018. Here is the second part of my big list of free consumer reports from over 50 different reporting agencies. The first part included your credit, banking, and subprime lending-related information. This part includes your housing, … [Read the rest]

Sam’s Club: Free 3-Month Membership Extension (or Full Refund Upon Cancellation)

Sam's Club is offering all of their members a free 3-month extension if you fill out the linked form by March 31, 2018. This is in response to their sudden closure of 63 Sam's Club locations (about 10% of all stores). Alternatively, you can … [Read the rest]

50% of American Households Don’t Own Any Stocks At All

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Here's another stat to add to your knowledge. For roughly half of Americans, the stock market’s record highs don’t help at all, according to a recent Washington Post article. This chart shows that half of US household have no exposure to stocks, … [Read the rest]

Big List of Free Consumer Data Reports (1/2): See Your Confidential Credit, Banking, and Payday Lending Data

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Links updated for 2018. Since these are available every 12 months, it is a good idea to check these near or around the same time each year. A lot of companies make their money by collecting and selling data - your personal data. In the past, it … [Read the rest]

Markets Rise and Fall: Is Your Portfolio Ready For Both?

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It would be great if you could invest in things with high and reliable returns, going up and up consistently like clockwork and without worry. Unfortunately, that's usually the sign of a Ponzi scheme. The chart above illustrates what you have to … [Read the rest]

What If You Invested $10,000 Every Year For the Last 10 Years? 2008-2017 Edition

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Instead of just looking at one year of returns, here's an annual exercise that helps you look at the bigger picture. You may know the 10-year historical return of the S&P 500, but most of us didn't just invest a big lump sum of money a decade ago, … [Read the rest]

Best Interest Rates on Cash – January 2018

Short-term interest rates are rising. Megabanks make billions by pay you nothing for your idle cash. Here is my monthly roundup of the best safe rates available, roughly sorted from shortest to longest maturities. Check out my Ultimate … [Read the rest]

Navy Federal Credit Union 0% APR No Balance Transfer Fee Promotion

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) has a limited-time promotion where both new and existing NFCU credit cardholders can get 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months. You must transfer a non-Navy Federal credit card balance before February 28, … [Read the rest]

Citi Simplicity Card Review: 0% for 18 Months (1.5 Years), No Late Fees, No Penalty Rates

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One of the most common New Year's resolutions is to pay down debt. Rewards-earning credit cards may not be optimal for those carrying balances and thus more impacted by 18% interest rates than a relatively puny 2% back on purchases. Our partner … [Read the rest]