Cell phone bill more than $35/month? You’re Being Ripped Off.

Cell phone bill more than $35/month?  You’re Being Ripped Off.

Hey, Hatters– Do you like unlimited calls, texts, and data?  Do you thrive on keeping up with the latest phones and tablets?  Are you paying more than $35 a month for the cellphone plan that makes it all work for you?  You’re being ripped off.

Let me say that again.  A cell phone bill that’s more than $35 a month for use with an iPhone, Galaxy, whatever much-hipper-than-I-am phone that lives in your pocket is a complete and utter waste of your money, which is a waste of the hours of your life you trade for your money.  That time is precious, and on Life as a Hat, I want you to keep every bit of it you can.

Why am I setting $35 as the limit to what you should spend on your cell?  It’s what I do with the T-Mobile and Walmart team up pre-paid plan.  Here’s what I get for $30 a month ( which comes to a grand total of $33 and change after taxes and fees.)

  • Unlimited texts
  • Unlimited data (5 gigabytes at 4G LTE speeds and unlimited data at 3G speeds after that.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with what those numbers really mean, I use my phone heavily.  I stream music when I workout, I use data for GPS, and I surf the internet prettttttty frequently in my downtime.  I don’t think I’ve ever gone above 3 gigabytes of data usage in a month.)
  • 100 minutes of talk time, which I extend into unlimited talk with Skype.
  • There’s no last bullet point because there’s nothing else you could want from a cellphone plan.  This is unlimited everything for 1/3 of what most consumers pay.

How can you join the ranks of this too good to be true plan?

  1. Own your own phone.  That might mean you don’t have the latest and greatest, but you will have freedom and won’t be locked into a pay off the phone by month plan or a contract with a subsidy.  Check out Ebay, Amazon, or your own network of friends for great deals on used phones you can buy outright.
  2. Purchase a SIM card through T-Mobile or Walmart.  As of last week, T-Mobile had a special where each sim was only $0.99.  That’s my kind of price.
  3. Activate your new sim card ONLINE.  This part is crucial.  Because of the dual nature of the T-Mobile and Walmart plan, you will not be able to purchase the correct plan if you call T-Mobile directly to activate your SIM.  Do you hear me?  Do not call T-Mobile to activate your SIM.  Use the activate online option.
  4. Select the $30 plan with 100 minutes from the dropdown menu.  Reread the options and ensure you’ve selected the correct plan.  This is the best deal on the market and the process is designed to make it difficult to access.

When I set up my plan, it took about an hour of my time, and it’s since saved me $60 a month, every month, and I have the luxury of knowing that I can walk away at any time.

That’s freedom in a phone plan.

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Shop 24/7 and Never Regret a Purchase Again

Shop 24/7 and Never Regret a Purchase Again

When I started thinking about who I wanted to be, I also started thinking about how I wanted to shop.  I’ve realized that deep down, I’ve always believed that when we shop, we’re creating ourselves.  And we are, aren’t we?  Humans live on snap judgments–is someone friend or foe?  Are they like me?  How can I categorize them to know how to interact with them?

When we shop, we’re building the lens that the rest of the world sees us through. We’re telling friends, acquaintances, strangers, “Hey, this?  This is how I want you to tag me in your mind.  I’m like the other people you’ve met who dress like this, but I’m not the ones who dress the opposite.  I like Johnny Cash, or Katy Perry, or raging against the system in clothing the system designed.”  We’re creating our own reality with our purchases.  I didn’t think there was anything more powerful than that.

Well, there’s nothing more powerful than shopping except for the fucking fact that I’d rather not live through categories that someone else created to make money for themselves.  That’s more powerful.

Not all shopping is “wrong.”  Wanting to create an image for yourself isn’t wrong.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is condescending, or misogynistic, but probably both.  Being too caught up in the system, though, is bondage, and we’re about freedom here.  I still love to shop, but I use what I call a 24/7 system now when I do it.

24/7 Shopping to Never Regret a Purchase

What’s the 24/7 system?  It’s a way to shop that makes sure you’re getting the maximum amount of utility for the money (freedom) you exchange for your clothing.  It’s how I can keep my desire to create the me I see in my mind from stopping me from creating the free me I value more than anything.

The 24:

  • If you’re going to use the 24/7 shopping system, you’re not going to buy ANY piece of clothing unless you’ve had 24 hours to think on the decision
  • It’s a flash sale?  It won’t be there tomorrow?  I don’t care.  Those flash sales are design to give you less time to think.  They’re the definition of being enslaved to the system.  You’re better than that.
  • If you want something after 24 hours, it might be a real desire and not just a whim of marketing and pressure.  You’re going to give yourself the chance to find out.

The 7:

  • It’s been a day and you still want that leather jacket?  Awesome.  Now you’re giving yourself a week to find it second hand.
  • Yes, a week.  Entire careers went into making you want that jacket. One day is a joke when it comes to the amount of time you need to separate yourself from the marketing.
  • Yes, secondhand.  Remember, we’re about freedom and sustainability.  Buying your clothing second hand means that it’s already depreciated in value, and you’re paying far closer to its actual worth.  You’re also not participating in the fast fashion marketplace that does a whole hell of a lot of damage to our world and the people in it.

If you haven’t found what you wanted second hand after 7 days, and you’re still thinking about that jacket now 8 days after you saw it, go back to the store and try it on again.  You know what, though?  I bet you’re not thinking about it.  I bet you’ve completely forgotten about it, or you’ve found it second hand for a fraction of the price and guilt.  I bet you’re a step closer to freedom because you shopped 24/7.

On Being Free

On Being Free

Life as a hat is about finding your path, but before we get started, I want to make something clear.

I’m not here to help direct you to your perfect career or the right hobbies to make you marketable.

Don’t get me wrong–I would love if becoming more free led you to find the interests that make you happy and make you money at the same time. The goal here isn’t, though, to put you on a path to the right 9 to 5 for the next forty years. I want you out of the 9 to 5 (or, 7 to 6 with commute for most of us.) I want to give you freedom, even when you’re not yet sure what you’ll do with freedom when you have it.

That brings us to Life as a Hat’s first post. What is freedom, why do we want to be free, and how do we get there?

I started thinking about freedom when I was a few years out of college but hadn’t felt like I found my “calling” yet.  I had skills, but I didn’t have passions.  I had interests, but I didn’t have ambitions to monetize them.

I’m starting to think that’s okay.

It turns out, some pretty smart people agree with me.

We’re ambivalent about work because in our capitalist system it means work-for-pay (wage-labor), not for its own sake…  For most of us, a paying job is still utterly essential — as masses of unemployed people know all too well.  But in our economic system, most of us inevitably see our work as a means to something else: it makes a living, but it doesn’t make a life. — Gary Gutting, The New York Times

So, freedom.  When I talk about it here on Life as a Hat, I mean the ability to make choices without wondering how I’ll put food on the table. I mean “F*ck you!” money–the ability to leave any situation where I’m being taken advantage of, whether that’s on the job or in a relationship. Freedom is being able to say that I choose where I am and whom I’m with because I want to be there.  Freedom means the people around me can trust that I want to be there with them.

Freedom sounds pretty damn good to me.

It doesn’t come by magic, though, or by ambition, or by the right Etsy page, or the right credit card, or the right connections at the right farmer’s market.

We get freedom when we cultivate habits and skills that remove us from the bondage of trading hours of our life for money.  That’s it.  

I’m not free yet.  I’m not even close.  I’m learning, and I’m trying, though.  I’m starting on my path.

And I want you to come with me.