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The Bucket

The Bucket
by Gary Woods

Always before when you went to buy a cell phone you would select how many minutes of talk time you would use every month. You'd have to figure out whether 450 minutes a month was enough or whether you were better off with 550 minutes or more.

After that if you wanted add-ons like text messages you had to determine what was good for you. Is 500 texts a month a lot or a little? Then when smartphones became a big deal we all had to add data plans to our already burgeoning cell phone bills.

Some data plans have unlimited data, some have a few gigabytes of data and some even have just a few megabytes of information that can be used a month without experiencing some serious penalties.

The problem I saw with all the plans was that almost inevitability you ended up not using the allotted talk minutes, text messages and downloadable data and for us that was spread across 3 bills. I monitor my data usage pretty carefully and of that 5 GB of data I was allotted I used roughly 500 MB per month or 1/10th of my allotment which is about average according to wireless providers.

All of that figuring gave me a headache so I combined our multiple cell bills into one with Verizon and went to what they call their Shared Data plans and I call "The Bucket." The plan is really simple; you get unlimited talking minutes and unlimited texting for $40 per month per smartphone or $30 per month per non-smartphone. Then, if you have a wireless Hotspot its $20 per month or $10 month per month for a cell connected Tablet.

We have 2 iPhones so that's $80 and a MiFi Wireless Hotspot which is accessed by our 2 iPads so that's another $20. After that all you have to do is choose a data plan which will be shared by all your devices. Plans start at $40 per month for 300MB and go up to 30GB for $200. Verizon monitors your account data usage, and alerts you if you are close to your allotment. If you get close to your cap you than can bump it up in $10, 2gig increments. The plan allows for 10 phone numbers (devices) on one shared account versus the old limit of 5. I chose 2GB for $60 per month because we don't stream music and movies on our cell phones and it hasn't been a problem for us.

Since we don't use much data the new Verizon system has been a little cheaper for us than what we were previously paying and definitely a whole lot simpler. To get a Verizon dealer's perspective I checked with Alan Gold of Santa Barbara Auto Stereo & Wireless and he said that some of his customers are saving a fortune with the new plan. He continued "one of my business accounts said their bill went from $2,700 a month to $1,400 and another went from $2,200 a month to $1,100." In conclusion Alan added that 95% of my consumer accounts also are saving a lot of money a month migrating to this new plan as well."

If you've got several cell phones and devices on your Verizon wireless account it's definitely worth checking out. Besides I know you love to Share, and that's the Plan.

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at or see my column on the Internet at or call me at (805) 729-0910

Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc