New Phone and Service

From my previous post on tidying, one of the ways I was going to "tidy my finances" was to switch phone providers.

My coworker has been on Google Fi for a few years, and he has always talked about how he's used so little data, and his monthly payment was in the 30-50 dollar range every month. While jealous of his payment, I always came back with the fact that I get unlimited data. Unlimited Data!! For less than $120 a month. 120 dollars!

The company advertised it as you get unlimited data and calling for $70 a month though. However, I was on a program where you can upgrade to a phone any time you want, up to three times a year. The phone leasing and various taxes and a phone protection plan apparently cost me another $50 a month. However, I don't remember ever asking for the phone protection. I leave the old company a little bit mad at them because of that, a fact that I only discovered when I was switching, and the fact that I couldn't turn my phone in and kill me lease, they would charge me for the remainder of the lease? WTF?!?  I still have the phone as the store said the main HQ will bill me later. At that point I plan on protesting it.

I'm now 10 days in with Google Fi and a new shiny Google Pixel 3 XL. Over those ten days I've used 150 MB of data. Over that same time I've used 15 GB over WiFi. I always thought I'd be crippled without an unlimited data plan, or 6 GB or whatever, but it's actually pretty easy.

Data Saver

Google phones offer a data saver. I thought it was new to my new phone because I never checked, never needed it. But it's there, and you only care if you're not on an unlimited data plan that is over priced. The data saver is an amazing piece of software! It will turn off background data for all apps, except for two by default, and for any that you choose to allow access to background data (none on my phone ...).  My data usage is at an all time low.

To get the data so low, though, you really need to make some sacrafices. No web browsing. No YouTube. No streaming music. These can be alleviated by downloading things over WiFi. I've downloaded a few albums. I download some podcasts before I leave for work or for the office. I have plenty of material to keep me entertained for many drives back and forth to work.

It will get tricky once I need to go somewhere I'm not familiar with, and use the Google Maps app. You can download your area to maps instead of streaming that data, but traffic needs to be real time!  But this isn't a data elimination, just a diet. I might go up to 1-2 GB, and that's fine, as my bill will still be less than $50. $68 less than what I used to pay.

Phone

For the phone, like I said I was leasing phones with the other company. To get rid of leases, I bought the phone on my credit card. $800 total! Yes, it's steep, but I will pay it off quickly. The way Google Fi works, it'll only ever charge you for 6 GB of data if you go over. With $20 base and $60 for data at the most expensive payment (add some taxes) for the Fi a month, I'll still pay $20+ less than the old plan. If I did that and used maximum data every month, the phone and plan switch would pay for itself in 40 months. If I use 1-2 GB a month, figuring my monthly payment is $68 or so less than my old plan, the switch pays for itself in 12 months. If I shut off data completely, I'm $93 cheaper, the switch pays for itself in 10 months.  Figure I'll own this phone for a few years, at which point I can trade it in and get the next faster phone cheaper. This is big time savings and I was stupid for not doing it a while ago.

As long as Google Fi exists, I won't be on a major carrier. It's plain dumb.

Tidying

Over the past few weeks, I've been on a tear with cleaning up my place. I watched the Marie Kondo Netflix series, and I was kind of inspired by it. I decided to try it on my clothes. So I went through everything, got rid of stuff that didnt' "spark joy" (more on this later), and folded everything into tiny little squares!  At the end of my process, I had 2 empty drawers, where they were difficult to shut before they had so much in them! And the folding everything made everything just fit much better.

Inspired by the space saving produced by my clothes experiment, I decided to do the rest of my rooms in the upstairs part of my house. The collection of stuff elsewhere up there wasn't so drastic, so I moved on to the downstairs.

The living room and dining room are particularly cluttered. I have bikes, toys for Genevieve, loads of board games since that's what we like to play, tons of books, various things, video games, pictures, a shovel in case it snows, vacuum, the lone closet on the first floor is packed to the point of overflowing. During my initial flame of inspiration to declutter, I didn't make much progress on the first floor because there was just nowhere to put anything. Because my basement...

My basement is a nightmare!  When I moved back in to my house 4 years ago, everything I brought with me just made it into a pile down there. As I needed things I would bring them up. When I didn't need things, or had loads of boxes from online purchases, they made their way downstairs. I was always afraid to throw things out because I'm not sure of the impact on the environment, if the trash truck would even take them, and probably because I'd always forget.

So yesterday, March 2, I worked all day to clear it up. I threw out a lot of stuff. I found my PS3 during the day and noticed that all the games I have are in mint condition, and they were all in their boxes! I went and sold them, trying to sell my PS3 as well, but I was missing a wire. I ordered it so I should be able to sell it Wednesday. (Hopefully the sale nets me more than $10 :)

I ordered Sterilite boxes to store stuff in, as well as a metal rack. I already had a 4 shelf rack down there which quickly became consumed by bedding and Christmas and Easter decorations. I got a 5 shelf one the other day. The Sterilite boxes I got were four (for lack of a better term) big ones, and 6 (again) small ones. I'm sure they have liter measurements though.  The whole process is nearly complete, and when I'm done here, I'm going to package the rest of the loose ends down there, throw away the remainder of the boxes, figure out what I can sell, and then it will be done!  And I will have room for the rest of the stuff on the first floor, to be packaged up or determined to be sold or trashed. It's a liberating experience. I feel I'm reclaiming my house!

Financial Tidying

At the same time... I'm doing what can only be described as financial tidying. In the same way that I'm making room in my basement for stuff upstairs, I'm making room in my monthly expenses for a new purchase that I'll be making. I mentioned this earlier in my Hybrid Car Shopping post. Some things I'm doing there are

  1. Switching my phone provider to Google Fi. The initial cost is the phone which was $800 (I plan on paying it off quickly), but the monthly cost will be under my control, between as low as $20 and as high as $80. Before taxes I think. However, my current phone bill is $120. The variable pricing with Google Fi is how much data you use, at $10 per GB. So if I can try to limit that, and I typically only use 3GB a month WITHOUT moderation, my bill will probably be $50-60 cheaper, and it'll have paid for the new phone in a year.
  2. Paying off credit cards. These I didn't really used to count as monthly payments for some reason. That was a mistake! I was making a little more than the minimum payment each month, which was something like $200 a month across 2 cards. The debt is not outrageous but if I can get rid of them quickly, I can gain back $200 a month right there! Easy!!
  3. Paying off my lawyer.  However, this is zero interest (so far!) and not of the highest priority. However at the rate I'm going it'll be paid off in a year. He's likely to do more work for me though, but that's ok, and welcomed since he provides a valuable service :)
  4. At some point I'm going to learn Google Cloud stuff and have my websites be functions in the future, and not need a virtual Linux server like this site is running on. I've already moved over all of my private Git repositories to Github since they offer unlimited private repos for free!  FREE!

Those are the things I can do right now. I have no interest in paying extra principle (see what I did there?) on my house since I was going to try to move but now I don't feel I need to. If I can get my house into tip-top shape and be happy living here. There are a few things that I want to do in that regard.

  1. New furniture. This includes a new couch and new mattress. These will likely not happen until I get my monthly payments down to a minimum, namely paying off the credit cards.
  2. New refridgerator. It's just old and the lights don't work, etc. However, this will be very low priority, as I might go in there and reorganize to start feeling better about it.
  3. Fix plumbing. I have a leak in my bathroom piping. This is high priority.
  4. Fix my garage door. This is medium priority.
  5. Nest thermostat. This could also help with my monthly bills.

In terms of the Marie Kondo method, and the "sparking joy" concept of it. It's definitely not only about joy but also function. I'd definitely not throw away a pair of sweatpants because they don't spark joy, but keep them around for the few times I actually feel like lounging around in them. It's hard to assess for me, the joy that is caused by material things, since I'm not a material girl, or even a girl for that matter. I do have a lot of stuff but that's just because I have interests. I have about 50 piano books. Old cameras. Video games and consoles (like an Atari 7800 and a Sega Genesis). Tons of guitar stuff. Computer stuff. My hobbies spark joy. However, the space these things take up while not organized and put away neatly sparked the opposite of joy. And that's what I'm addressing :D

On the financial side of things, credit card debt does not spark joy! :P  Debt in general can kiss my butt. Monthly payments do not spark joy. A new shiny car with sweet tech and high gas mileage though... In order for me to fit that in I had to "make room in the basement". The difference between the financial tidying and the house tidying, is that I am not making room in my house for new stuff. Just making room for breathing, and for joy.

I often think... did watching Marie Kondo light this fire? Or was it the timing of me like, coming to a point in my life where I feel cluttered and overwhelmed with loads of crap, a bit of debt (again, not ridiculous), wanting to introduce something new in my life?  Like a car? Or perhaps start dating?  Or is it all just Marie Kondo and her contagious joy?  I think it was Marie Kondo :)

Thanks for reading! It's a journey.