Public Mobile: How I Saved 24% on My Cell Phone Plan

Public Mobile: How I Saved 24% on My Cell Phone Plan

If you kids are anything like me, you’re pretty much unappealing in every way.

You’re also complete cheap asses. It’s okay to admit it. When it comes to things I don’t care about, I will always choose the cheapest option. I carry around my laptop in a free backpack with Lays emblazoned on it because it was a free gift when I worked for that particular chip company. That backpack has been places, man. It has stories that would make the hair on the back of your neck stand STRAIGHT UP.

I can think of a million other examples. I buy dollar store Kleenex, because my nose can’t tell the difference. I haven’t bought a pen in years; I’m still using ones stolen from a nameless hotel three years ago. The scrap paper on my desk is the backside of documents I discarded months ago. Hell, even my post-its were free, a gift from the Egg Farmers of Alberta. Thanks, chicken lovers.

My cell phone is the same. As long as the thing rings when somebody calls me and connects when I want to EVISCERATE y’all on the Twitter, I’m good. Whatever cell phone plan lets me do that in the cheapest way is a-okay with me.

Previous cell phone plan

Right around a year ago I made the switch from iPhone to Android after I noticed my old iPhone 4s would need a little boost in the middle of the day to ensure it wouldn’t run out of juice.

It’s not like I was constantly on it, cruising Facebook or Instagram or whatever it is you kids do. I’d mostly just put it on my desk and work, periodically responding to stuff. It was just old and bloated with crapware over the years. I’m also 100% convinced Apple designs the software updates so old phones run slower than Don Cherry doing trigonometry.

So I got a new phone and a new plan with it. For $50 a month I got unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and one GB of data, a promo deal from Koodo.

There were a couple of issues with the transaction, however. The first was buying the phone outright, which confused the hell out of the guy at the kiosk in the Wal-Mart electronics department. It turns out nobody buys their phone outright anymore. He eventually figured it out and I got a $100 Wal-Mart gift card just for buying my phone there and going on a month-to-month contract.

A couple of weeks after I bought the phone, it messed up and I had to return it to said kiosk. They replaced it for me, and I’ve been using this new phone since without incident.

Enter Public Mobile

The whole reason why I bought my phone outright is because I wanted the freedom to jump to another carrier if they were offering a better deal. That finally happened last week.

I discovered Public Mobile is offering a terrific new plan to new users. For $120 every three months, I could get unlimited in province calling (receive calls from anywhere, dial out to anyone in the same province), unlimited global texting (DONG PICS FOR EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE), and 12GB of data. Twelve. I’ll finally be able to live my dream of watching the Blue Jays lose where ever I am.

Like any good millennial, I try to avoid talking to people on the phone. What an inefficient way to communicate. So the somewhat limited minutes weren’t a big concern. Every plan these days offers unlimited texts, so that wasn’t very exciting either. But the 12GB of data over three months sounded pretty fantastic.

In short, I was getting more than what I had, and for $10 per month cheaper. Not bad.

It gets better. Public Mobile is big on getting people to sign up for pre-authorized billing. So they offer a $2 per month discount if you give them your credit card information.

This decreased my monthly cost to $38 per month, a full 24% lower than I was paying before. THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT, BITCHES.

(Promptly goes out and buys $12 worth of temporary tattoos) SHUT UP THESE ARE BASICALLY FREE.

Limited time only

Public Mobile is a little different from the average cell phone provider. You do most everything yourself.

The first step is you gotta order your own SIM card. When I did this months ago, it was free. It’s now $5.00. Don’t sweat it, you’ll quickly save much more money than that.

The next step is you gotta unlock your phone. This is easily done. Just Google “unlock (model)” and you’ll have a million guys selling you unlock codes for the price of a decent burger. Don’t pay your current carrier $35 to do it.

Once the sim card shows up, punch out the size you need and then head on over to the website to register it.

Next, you’ll have to pick your plan. The best deals are only available if you sign up for 90-day plans, rather than the 30-day plans which are the norm. And everything from Public Mobile is pre-paid, so you’ll have to shell out the cost of your plan up front. Still, it’s worth every penny.

There are a few steps after that, but they’re not hard. If you’ve every bought anything online, you can navigate the process. It was easy.

Remember, this deal is only good until November 20th. So don’t slack, slacker.

How does it work?

It’s been a couple of days since I made the switch, and I haven’t noticed any difference at all. Public Mobile and Telus use the same network because Telus bought it out back in 2014. Telus also owns Koodo. So there was no change in my performance.

One downfall is there’s no contracts with Public Mobile. You’ll have to buy a phone before you can do anything.

I’d sure recommend y’all buy your phones outright. Sure, it costs more day one, but you’ve got the ability to hop from one carrier to the other, whoring yourself out to the lowest rate.

The other big downfall is you have to do everything yourself, from unlocking the phone in the first place to ordering the sim card. You can’t just go to some mall kiosk and get this stuff done. It’s a total DYI solution. That’s probably okay for most of you–like I mentioned, it isn’t hard to do the process, even if you’re porting from Koodo, like I did, which makes things a little more tricky–but it’s still something to keep in mind.

Special Koodo note

If you’re coming over from Koodo (or Telus), don’t pay to get your phone unlocked. It’s the same network, so there’s no need. All you need to do is sign up for a new (temporary) phone number, and then fill out the form on the Public Mobile website requesting to port your number to the new carrier.

It literally takes two minutes if you give them your Koodo/Telus account number. It was super easy.

Conclusion

Okay kids, here’s the deal. I can get up to $5 per month off my cell phone bill if I recommend five of you. I’m not about to give out my phone number to the masses, but if you found this valuable and are switching, I’d appreciate it if you’d email me (financialuproar [at] gmail [dot] com and I can save a few bucks.

How I Buy (Almost) Anything For 50-75% Off

How I Buy (Almost) Anything For 50-75% Off

I’m currently sitting in my office, with Franz Ferdinand blaring from the stereo. Ron Swanson’s bobblehead guards the one corner of my desk, while the other part is guarded by Jamie and Adam from Mythbusters, along with a couple of extra Diet Pepsi bottles.

In case that first paragraph wasn’t depressing enough for you, allow me to continue. I’m currently shoeless, wearing socks, jeans, and a dress shirt from The Hudson Room, which is a brand sold by Hudson’s Bay.

Such a dress shirt normally sold for $59.99. I picked mine up for $12–a discount of 80%.

How did I do it? Magic? Thievery? Charming people into giving me a deal? Nah, especially the third one. I can barely charm more than two napkins out of the Subway attendant. WHY ARE YOU SO STINGY? THEY’RE JUST NAPKINS. EVIL BASTARD.

It’s simple. I buy my dress clothes second-hand.

What? Gross

It all started back in about 2009.

I used to have a very specific clothes buying strategy that consisted of me going to the hottest employee in a store and telling her to find me some cheap, not ugly dress shirts in my size. This worked pretty well, actually. Most of the time these ladies seemed glad to help.

I was then dragged into Value Village by my grandmother, who was looking for a new dress. Because shopping with your grandmother is worse than death, I made a mad dash to the men’s section. I browsed, really not expecting to find anything worth buying. After all, Value Village is full of reject clothes.

And there it was.

It was a brand new dress shirt, a good brand that has long slipped my memory. It still had the price tag on it. $70.

I could buy it for $10.

I examined it closely, determined to find the fatal flaw. After all, I’ve been investing long enough to know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There had to be something wrong with it.

I checked the stitching up and down the sides, looking for loose threads. I checked the armpits and the neck for that gross brown sweat stain that builds up over time. Each of the buttons was examined and reexamined.

As far as I could tell, there was nothing wrong with it. So I went to try it on.

It fit, so I decided to buy it, mostly as a science experiment. I wore it to work the next day (this was back when I was a mortgage broker/realtor), and just sort of hung around the office’s two women. I awaited their feedback with all together too much enthusiasm.

“Hey Nels. Is that a new shirt?”

“Yeah, it is.”

“It looks nice. Where’d you get it?”

“Uh…”

“Seriously, where’d you get it? I want to buy one for my husband.”

“Well, I bought it at Value Village. It was $10.”

“Good choice. It looks like a $100 shirt.”

And that was all the encouragement I needed. I became a Value Village devotee.

There is one exception. I don’t buy my underwear there. That’s just gross.

Not just Value Village

Value Village isn’t the only place to buy second-hand stuff. The internet has made it much easier to to through other people’s junk.

20 years ago, going to yard sales was a morning-long affair, even in my small town. Dad would load up the kids in the car, cut out the list of sales from the local paper, and off we’d go.

I didn’t hate going to yard sales. I liked going browsing through the unique items, and I knew my chances of getting my parents to buy me something was much greater if it was 80% off retail.

Fortunately, yard sales really aren’t a thing anymore. You can accomplish the same thing on the internet in a fraction of the time using Facebook and Kijiji.

Here’s how you do it.

First, find your city’s buy and sell page, and its auction page. Trust me, they exist.

Now there’s two ways you can go about buying stuff on these pages. There’s the easy way when you’re looking for a specific item, and the hard way, which is browsing for deals. Feel free to use one or both, depending on your goals.

The easy way is to use the “search group” function. Type in what you’re looking for, and go to town. Use the same strategy on Kijiji, although be warned, there aren’t that many people who still use Kijiji. Facebook has taken over the market.

Case study: used washer

Used appliances are probably the most inefficient market I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing.

No buyer trusts someone selling a used washing machine. Why would the seller replace a perfectly good washing machine? Even if it does work, the average person doesn’t have the tools needed to transport it home, and most want that sweet, sweet one-year warranty that comes with buying new.

Because these barriers exist, you can make bank buying used appliances.

A friend sold his used washer a few months ago. There was nothing wrong with it; he just replaced it because he got a free front-loader from his parents, who decided to replace their whole set.

So he threw the old one on the Facebook bidding wars, with an opening bid of $50.

He didn’t get a bite, so he lowered the opening bid to $30. After a furious 24 hours of bidding, he got… wait for it…

$32.

Naturally, he was pissed. Sure, it was 10 years old, but the thing still worked. He never had an issue with it.

His story sealed it. When my washer dies, I’m buying a used one. If a new washer is $600, and I buy one for $50, I”m saving 92%.

The browsing method

The browsing method is the most similar to going to yard sales. At least you don’t have to put on pants to do so.

Basically, you go on Facebook and scroll…

And scroll…

And scroll…

Looking for stuff to buy. Some of this stuff might be things you need, but most of it will likely be stuff you can flip. Take advantage of markets you know well to make a little extra cash.

The big problem with the browsing method? It’s easy to get sucked into a Facebook wormhole, emerging 45 minutes later with disheveled clothes smelling vaguely of gin. Even if you already smell like gin, this isn’t a good use of your time.

And there you go

Embracing the second-hand market has saved me a lot of money over the years, even if the average person assumes I’m poor for buying my dress shirts at the thrift store. Go ahead. Make fun. I’m getting the same stuff as you, for 50%, 75%, even 95% off. Who’s laughing now?

Professional Drivers and Your Finances

Professional Drivers and Your Finances

After spending most of the long weekend in the bustling metropolis of Calgary, I’ve come to realize something.

Most of y’all are terrible drivers.

Not you, of course. Just like with sex, you are the best of the best. Dudes from far away come just to see a glimpse of your driving ability. Hollywood is constantly on the phone, begging you to show up and drive in whatever Fast and Furious movie they’re currently making. I think they’re up to number 26.

All of your friends, though, suck. They constantly do unsafe things like switch lanes every 40 seconds, follow too closely, go way too fast for driving conditions, pass on solid lines, and about a billion other sins. We’ve all seen those dash cam videos on Reddit.

I’m the first to admit I’m not a perfect driver, especially when I’m in the city and I don’t really know where I’m going. But unlike the 90% of us who self-identify as being better than average, I’m 100% certain I am in the top 50% of drivers. Why? Because I’ve taken a defensive driving course.

Seriously, that will change your life. I know it changed mine.

Professional vs. amateur drivers

There’s a quote on value investing that really applies to defensive driving, too.

“Value investing is like an inoculation. It either takes right away or it doesn’t.” — Warren Buffett

Most of us learn the basics of defensive driving when we’re teenagers, and then promptly forget them until we hit 82 and probably shouldn’t be driving anymore.

When I sold chips for a living, we were ushered into the office one day to take a defensive driving course. It turns out that because fleet insurance was so expensive, the company just went with the bare minimum and paid for damages out of pocket. And it turned out to be cheaper.

If a company is paying out of pocket for any collisions, you can bet your ass it’s in their best interest to educate their drivers on at least the basics of defensive driving.

Defensive driving is a pretty simple concept. If a driver follows a few simple ground rules, they can eliminate most instances that cause accidents. These rules are:

  • Leave a minimum of two seconds following time between you and the car ahead
  • Minimize lane changes. Pick a lane and stay in it.
  • Accelerate smoothly and avoid braking. Coast up to traffic lights instead of going up to the light and hitting the brakes
  • Look into the future (focus on what will happen, not what is happening)
  • Look around rather than just staring forward
  • Make eye contact with other drivers, pedestrians, etc.

How many of you are following these rules? I bet very few do — except those who are professional drivers. They’re much more likely to do so. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, so it must be true.

How this relates to your finances

I guarantee most of you either just skimmed that last section, or read it and immediately ignored it. “I drive just fine, Judgey McJudgerson. We don’t need no wussy rules on how to drive like a wuss. Stop driving like a wuss.”

And yet, just about every Fortune 500 company that employs professional drivers have invested in some sort of driver training. The Smith System is the most popular, and there are countless imitators.

The overall point is a relatively simple one. If you keep doing things the same, you’ll get the same results. It doesn’t matter if the scenario is driving or if it’s your money.

According to the world of personal finance, there’s really only one way to get ahead. The road map looks something like this. Create a budget. Set up an emergency fund. Take excess savings and channel it into a portfolio of ETFs. And then increase your income through a side hustle.

These are all great pieces of advice. But they’ve been repeated often enough that they’re all but useless to anyone who isn’t a beginner.

Take investing as an example. I think people who take all of their cash and put it into Canadian or U.S. broad-market ETFs are going to be regretting the decision a few years from now. North American stocks are quite expensive. I’ve been telling y’all to check out alternative investments for months now, recommending everything from private businesses to buying mobile homes.

My private mortgage business is a great example. Despite housing bears calling the private loan market in Canada words like “toxic” and “dangerous”, I continue to make loans to people that make sense. These loans are covered by equity even if the housing market falls by 20-30%.

I’ve created a lucrative business with equity-like returns by venturing into part of the market where few others dare tread. And I did so intelligently, regularly rejecting loans that don’t come with my required margin of safety.

Wrapping it up

This isn’t to say you should rush out and get into the private lending business, because chances are there are already 14 lenders already in your market and you don’t really know squat about the business. But I bet there is a business you know pretty well.

The average person throwing money at an ETF is like a mediocre driver. Even the bottom 10% of drivers still regularly get from point A to point B without incident. As long as the average ETF investor has a high enough savings rate, they’ll do just fine too. But is it really an ideal result? Wouldn’t you rather get higher returns by thinking a little outside of the box?

Professional drivers drive different than most of us. They look at the road differently. It’s time to bring a similar attitude to our investments. Many people look at investing as a savings problem. Just throw more money at it, and the problem goes away.

But you can’t look at it like that. Savings rates will only do so much. It’s up to you to figure out how to maximize those savings rates.

Is The Latte Factor Really Making People Poor?

Is The Latte Factor Really Making People Poor?

Let’s talk a little bit about the latte factor, a phrase coined actually trademarked(!) by David Bach in one of six books that really just say the same thing over and over again.

You’ve seen this tweet before, but screw it. I’m including it again.

It goes something like this. If a young lady were to cut out her daily $4 fancy coffee and invest that cash for 40 years instead, she’d end up with a metric assload of money. According to my compound interest calculator, $4 per day invested at a 10% return over four decades works out to a nest egg of $776,882.16. That’s probably enough for a pretty comfortable middle class retirement assuming inflation stays reasonable.

The whole point isn’t anti-coffee, much to my chagrin. How do you people drink that stuff, anyway?The point i  little costs have a way of adding up and becoming a big deal. Cutting out just a few of these costs and channeling the cash into savings will have a positive impact.

This is a valuable message for many personal finance newbies, and maybe even a nice reminder for the rest of us. Last week when I argued that cable is pretty cheap entertainment all things considered, regular reader Ricardo reminded me in the comments that $2 or $3 per day for cable still adds up. And he’s right. You will be richer if you don’t have cable, don’t go for coffee, or whatever.

So while I agree with the overall message, I’d argue the latte factor itself is kinda dumb. Here’s why.

Making more is far better

I’ve never really been a big fan of micro frugality, even though my wife can attest just how painful it is for me to spend money sometimes. Y’all should have seen how stained my hat got before I bought a new one.

Don’t you know how to wash things?

DON’T YOU KNOW HOW TO SHUT UP?

I’d much rather find a way to make more money. A lot of times this involves working longer or harder, but most of the time it involves getting some sort of passive income. I invest a lot in private mortgages, dividend paying stocks, real estate, and other passive pursuits.

Start earning passive income today!

Use Questrade to invest in REITs, ETFs, and other vehicles that will produce passive income. Sign up today and you’ll be rich in no time!

Say I’m just starting on my financial journey and I’ve managed to save an extra $10,000. If I invest that at 8%, I’ve generated an additional $800 per year in income. That works out to $2.19 per day or… about the cost of a latte.

It’s like the latte factor but in reverse.

This gets all the more powerful the more you have saved up. $100,000 at 8% works out to an extra $8,000 per year. Or, to put it in latte factor terms, an extra $21.92 per day.

Let’s look at it another way. Say you work really hard and get yourself a 5% raise each year for a decade. You start out making $40,000. After ten years you’re up to just over $65,000. Even after taxes, you’re generating huge amounts of extra cash that can be invested. It’s a lot easier to save money if you make more of it.

Focus on big wins

I’ve said this so many times I feel like I’m repeating myself, but whatevs. Maybe you kids will figure it out this way.

Small things have a way of adding up. But it’s the big things that matter.

I know normally smart people who willingly sign up for crazy-long commutes, have houses with way too much space in them, or who don’t bother to ever shop around for some of their big annual expenses. These folks could easily put thousands of dollars in their pockets by moving close enough to work to walk or cutting their family down from two vehicles to one.

In the two vehicles post, I figured it would cost us an extra $3,000 per year if we had two vehicles. To use the latte factor math, that works out to about $8.25 per day. By making one big decision, I was able to make a bigger impact than making a number of small decisions. Do that a few times and you’re really making progress.

Look, a lot of you reading this don’t really have to optimize your finances. If you’re here, chances are you’re already much better at saving than the average slack-jawed yokel. You already watch the little things and probably most of the big things too, on your way to a 15% or 30% or even 50% savings rate. If you’re saving a third of your income, who cares if you have a latte. Double fist those bad boys for all I care. Raising your savings rate from 33% to 35% is going to do nothing but get you slightly richer in the long run. Whoop-de-do.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to cut some of the little things from your life–provided you’re sure these things bring you no value. But ultimately what bugs me about the latte factor is the limitation it implies. Cutting expenses is good. Increasing income is better. Much better.

The Canadian Guide To Streaming NFL Games

WHO’S READY FOR SOME FOOTBAW?!?!?!?!?!

I could take it or leave it personally. I like football and I even contemplated joining one of those fantasy teams just to get the opportunity to tell people about it. Because if there’s one thing people care about, it’s the performance of your imaginary football players.

If you’re a casual fan like me, you’re probably not going to spend much to make sure you have access to all the games. But at the same time, you probably want the option to watch every now and again, mostly because you’re a millennial who hates actual contact with human beings. ENJOY YOUR SCREEN, JERK.

I’m here to help and hopefully amuse a little too. Please laugh with me and not at me.

Here’s your guide to streaming NFL games, 2016 edition.

Twitter/Yahoo

For whatever reason, Twitter signed a deal for streaming NFL games this season. It’ll offer 10 different Thursday night games for the low, low price of exactly zero dollars. Some of the games are actually good!

Here’s a list:

  • Sept. 15: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
  • Sept. 22: Houston Texans at New England Patriots
  • Oct. 6: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
  • Oct. 13: Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
  • Oct. 20: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
  • Nov. 17: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
  • Dec. 1: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
  • Dec. 8: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
  • Dec. 15: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
  • Dec. 22: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

Twitter reportedly paid just $10 million for the rights to stream all 10 of these games, versus the $45 million or so per game CBS paid for the rights for broadcast TV. I’m guessing the NFL just did this to gain a little publicity, and we’re cool with that.

The downside to this arrangement is, of course, you’re stuck watching NFL games on your laptop or phone. Why even have a 60 inch TV?

Yahoo live-streamed a game from London last year, but it doesn’t look like the website will do it again, choosing to show NHL games instead.

NFL Game Pass

For the low, low price of US330 (or four payments of $99.99 for those of you either cash-strapped or bad at math), you can buy a NFL Game Pass, which gives you the option to watch any NFL game.

The NFL Game Pass app works through Apple TV, Roku, smart TVs, and both Playstation 3 and Playstation 4. There is the possibility that Sunday night and Monday night games will be blacked out because TSN pays the NFL a lot of money for those games. I couldn’t find a definitive answer to this question online.

 

Do you have credit card debt? 

Paying 18% (or even more!) annually in interest charges is just plain dumb. Borrowell gives unsecured loans with rates as low as 5.6%. Plus, they'll let you check your credit score for free, baby!

 

Cable subscribers

Nelson, if I was a cable subscriber, I’d just watch it on TV. What a dummy.

Here’s what you do. First, you suck up to somebody who has cable or satellite, and get their password. They’ll have to set up some sort of online access first, but that’s easy and most probably already have it. You then use the password to log into the TSN website to watch live TV when football is on. Boom.

That solves the getting access to the game issue, but it doesn’t solve the watching the game on a crummy laptop issue. You’d then use a Chromecast to watch the game on your 60 incher. What, you don’t have a 60 inch? Wuss.

Why does he keep talking about 60 inches? Is he obsessed with his penis or something?

Illegal methods

GASP BETTER HIDE THE CHILDREN AND COVER THEIR EARS TOO.

Some people have a problem with unauthorized streaming, others think the NFL brings it upon itself by charging more than $300 for streaming the games. Do whatever you want, I’m not here to pass judgement. That’s for tomorrow’s post, called Seriously, How Do You Live With Yourself?

Here’s what you do.

First, you go on the Reddit and search for NFL streams. Such a subreddit exists, but people also post streams in other places too. Next, find the game you’re looking for. This won’t be hard. You’ll have a smorgasbord of feeds to choose from.

My, uh, friend has had the most success with the Youtube streams. These tend to be fast and somewhat reliable. There are plenty of other options available, but I find they tend to be burdened with too many annoying pop-up ads.

Any other ideas on streaming NFL games? Comment away, yo.