In July of 2014 I got hit with a $400 phone bill. Thanks to poor coverage and some weekend road trips I’d managed to rack up a bunch of roaming charges.
The next day I canceled my service and decided to see how long I could last without an actual phone. It’s been almost six months and here’s what I’ve learned:
Technology limits your freedom
There’s an old Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin’s dad laments the march of time. “If we wanted more leisure we’d invent machines that do things less efficiently,” he observes.
And he’s right.
When I had a smartphone I couldn’t put it down. Every 10 minutes I’d take a peak. If no one had messaged I’d go on Twitter, or browse the web. To call it distracting would be the understatement of a lifetime.
My phone browsing got so bad that I had to stop buying Kindle books. Every time I purchased one it would go unread. I’d look at it for five minutes and then go back to goofing off.
Can you still get in touch with people?
When people hear that I don’t have a phone they immediately assume that I can’t communicate with others. But that’s actually the farthest thing from the truth. I kept the physical phone and threw out the contract. Now I can make calls, send texts, and video chat without spending a dime. My 2015 phone bill will be around one dollar. And I’ll explain why…
How to make your own free phone service
Apps have come a long way. If you’re smart you’ll be able to build your own phone service for free.
- Whatsapp – If you’re doing any travel or hooking up with foreign girls, this is the app for you. Virtually everyone I’ve met abroad uses Whatsapp to message each other. It’s an international service and has a really simple interface. This is actually one of my all time favorite apps and one I’d highly recommend.
- Skype – Although I’m not a huge fan of Skype, I do like its calling feature. You can buy $10 of Skype credit and ring up any phone number out there. On the rare occasions when I have to call a home phone or business line, I use this.
- GrooVe IP – This app is a bit spotty, but still put up with it. GrooVe IP is a free phone service that allows you to call anyone in the United States. If you need to make a lengthy call to the bank, hospital, or insurance agency,you can save some money with this. For utilitarian purposes it does a fine job.
- Various social media accounts – If you have Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram you can probably get by without actual phone service. Direct messaging and snapping seem to be in vogue right now and you could probably get by on those alone.
Out of all my peers I can’t really think of anyone who actually uses the phone part of their phone. Calls are outdated and apps have taken center stage. Because of this it seems a little weird that most people are still paying $80 to $300 a month on phone service. You can use the exact same channels of communication for free.
Additionally, when you want to unplug you can simply go somewhere without WiFi. If you want to read your Kindle or avoid disruptions, go to the park or a coffee shop you’ve never visited. It will keep you focused as you work.