Republic Wireless: The Future of Cellular?

Disclaimer: I was given a free Motorola Defy XT and three months of service with Republic Wireless in exchange for an honest review of the service here.

Cellular service has long been dominated by a select few carriers who are essentially free to charge whatever they please for the service that they provide.  Depending on which of the better known carriers you go with, a smart phone with a data plan will cost you anywhere from $50 to $100 a month.  Several months ago, I cancelled my account with one of those carriers and started a trial of Republic Wireless.

What is Republic Wireless?

I think, as part of reviewing the service, that we discuss what it is, exactly, that Republic Wireless is.  The service they offer is something that I like to call Hybrid Cellular.  Traditional cellular service pushes every call off of the carriers cellular towers.  Data, if you have a data plan does the same thing.  If you connect to a Wi-Fi router, some of that data goes over that connection instead, but the calls always go over the cell towers.  Republic’s hybrid cellular system pushes everything over the Wi-Fi signal if you’re connected.  What that means is that both calls and data usage go across your Wi-Fi internet (or whomever’s connection your connected to) whenever you’re connected.  The only time you use a traditional cellular signal is if you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network.

If you think about how often you’re near a Wi-Fi signal, it makes some sense.  And, you’re already paying for your home internet, and you likely have a Wi-Fi router installed.  Starbucks has one.  McDonalds has one.  You probably have one at work.  I do.  Anytime I’m near any public Wi-Fi, I just connect my phone and my calls and data go over that signal instead of the cellular network.

What Phones/Plans does Republic Wireless Offer?

Republic Wireless ReviewHere’s one of the catches to the service.  There isn’t much for selection on phones.  When I first signed up for the service, the only phone available was the Motorola Defy XT.  It was a bit better than the previous phone that they had offered, but it’s still a bit of a budget phone.  I’ve constantly run into issues with it’s small internal memory size, and had plenty of issues with it freezing up and needing to be hard reset (pull the battery).  In November, they’ll begin offering the Motorola Moto X, a significant upgrade to the Defy XT.  As with other non-contract cellular providers, you’ll have to shell out a bit for the phone itself, but you win in the end without a contract.

Plans are a bit of a mixed bag.  When I first started on the service, there were two plans.  The first was a $19 a month plan that offered unlimited everything, and a price tag on the Defy XT of about $200.  The second plan was $29 a month for the same service, but the cost of the phone was about half.  Until the Moto X is released, the only plan is the $19 a month plan with a price on the Defy XT of $99.  Still a pretty good deal.  The Moto X will be released, in November, with four available plans.

  • $5 a month — Unlimited data, voice and text on Wi-Fi only.  You must be connected to a Wi-Fi network for the phone to work.
  • $10 a month — Unlimited data, voice, and text on Wi-Fi plus unlimited voice and text on cellular.
  • $25 a month — Unlimited data, voice, and text on Wi-Fi plus unlimited voice, text and 3G data on cellular.
  • $40 a month — Unlimited data, voice, and text on Wi-Fi plus unlimited voice, text and 4G data on cellular.

You can change plans at anytime during a month (up to 2 times a month), so if you’re planning on going on a long trip and will need the faster data speeds, you can bump the plan up.  Or, if you’re finding that you’re on Wi-Fi everywhere, you can bump it down to a lower plan.  The phone, with all of the plans is going to have a $299 price tag on it.

What’s the Verdict on Republic Wireless?

If you’re like me, you’re thinking that all that info above is really nice, but how’s the service?  Turns out it’s a bit of a mixed bag.  If you’re on a Wi-Fi network with a strong signal, you’re unlikely to be able to tell the difference between the service and any other cellular phone.  It’s when you’re on the cellular network that you might see some issues.  Republic Wireless uses the Sprint network for it’s cellular service, which means that their cellular signal is only as strong as the Sprint signal is in your area.  For me, that means the cellular signal is spotty to non-existent.

The town I live in is the last town, heading west in my state, with any Sprint towers at all.  They’re remainders from the Nextel buyout.  What that means, for me, is that if I head west, I lose all access to data over the cellular signal for at least 1000 miles or more.  Considering I head that direction at least a couple of times a year, it’s almost a deal breaker for me.

The truth is, I don’t travel often.  When I do, the cellular signal is sort of spotty anyways, so it’s not that much of a downgrade.  And, when I’m not traveling, I’m usually at home or at work.  And I have Wi-Fi in both of those places.  90%+ of the time, Republic Wireless gives me just as good of a service as any other carrier for a fraction of the price.

One of the other sore spots for me, at the moment, is the Defy XT phone.  It’s been a bit of a lemon from the word go.  It’s got terribly low amounts of internal memory, which cause all sorts of issues with the phone.  Some apps, unable to be moved to the external memory card, hog up the resources and cause the phone to freeze, halt, and overall perform poorly.  The Moto X, to it’s credit has 16GB of internal memory, which should be about enough for anyone.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do yet.  For sure, I’ll be testing out the Republic Wireless service for a few more months, until the Moto X comes out and deciding if I want to do the upgrade or not.  It seriously pains me to think that I might have to go back to $100 a month service, especially after having paid only $19 a month for the last month or so.

The Bottom Line (TL;DR)

The bottom line is that your results with Republic Wireless will largely depend on how strong the Sprint network is in your area.  If it’s a little weak, like it is in my area, you might find yourself in your grocery store with no way to pull up an electronic coupon (true story).  It it’s a strong Sprint area, you probably won’t have any issues with it at all.  Make sure you check their coverage map before you commit to over $100 in phone costs.  In any case, I think you’ll likely want to wait until November when the current release date for the Moto X is scheduled.

 

Get Yourself and the Kids in the Halloween Spirit for Less

Halloween is right around the corner.  While the stores seem to like to skip Halloween and Thanksgiving and shoot right to Christmas (in September!), the majority of us like to embrace each holiday as it comes.

Halloween is one of those holidays that is fun for both kids and adults.  However, it can also be an expensive holiday, if you’re not careful.  Kids’ costumes alone can run upwards of $50.  Here are some ways you can enjoy the holiday and get a little Halloween spirit for less:

Costumes

Costumes don’t have to cost a fortune.  Using these tactics, you can get what you need for less than a Benjamin (or a Ulysses, as the case may be).

Halloween Spirit for Less1.  Shop resale stores.

National chains like Once Upon a Child or Goodwill have plenty of costumes for $10 or less.  At our local Once Upon a Child, costumes were about $6.50 each.  That beats paying $25 or more.

2.  Put out the word.

Let your friends and family know you’re looking for a costume.  When my son was 18 months old, we borrowed an adorable, homemade Robin Hood costume.  We paid nothing, and my son received many compliments while trick or treating.

3.  Check Craigslist.

Many parents also listed outgrown costumes on Craigslist.  Remember, you’re free to negotiate on Craigslist, so you may be able to haggle for a lower price.

4.  Make your own.

Pinterest is filled with adorable costumes for both those who sew and those who don’t.  You might be able to make a costume from items you have around the house or that you can buy cheaply.  Don’t forget that items can do double duty.  If your son has a fireman raincoat, there’s no reason that can’t be a costume.  Does your child have skeleton pajamas?  Great, there’s a costume.  Does your daughter take ballet?  Her recital costume or her dance leotard and tutu can be her costume.

How to Decorate on a Budget

Part of the fun of Halloween is not only dressing up the kids, but dressing up your home.  If you go all out, decorating your home can be pricey, but it doesn’t have to be.  Try these tips.

1.  Buy on clearance.

As soon as Halloween is over, go to the stores.  You’ll find Halloween decor on sale for 50 to 80% off.  Now is the time to buy decorations for next year.  The same is true for next year’s Halloween costumes.

2.  Pinterest to the rescue again.

Pinterest (Beating Broke on Pinterest) has tons of low cost decor suggestions.  I saw a cute pumpkin decoration for a table top that used old canning jar bands.  If you have those around, your decoration is free.  You can also have the kids create Halloween themed crafts and decorate the house that way.

Halloween is a fabulous holiday for kids and adults.  Decorating and dressing up can be so much fun, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  By using these techniques and taking advantage of the many frugal crafts and ideas on the web, you can have a great Halloween while keeping your hard earned money where it belongs, in your wallet.

How to Make a Million Dollars Through Investment (and Other Ventures)

If you’re set on the idea of earning a million dollars, there are likely tons of people out there telling you that your goal is unattainable.

They’re wrong.

Making a million dollars is feasible as long as you know what you’re doing and have a plan on how to get there. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the following methods and tips on how to earn a million dollars.

Save Your Money

Image via Flickr by kenteegardin

Do you want to earn a million dollars without putting very much extra work into it? Then cut back on your spending habits and put your cash in the bank. If you simply put $5 in a bank account each day with 10 percent interest, you’ll have a million dollars after 42 years. Want to make it quicker? Save even more money.

This tip isn’t all about putting your money in the bank, however. You have to live a frugal life, and most people who succeed at this live below their means. Drive used cars, cut coupons, watch for sales, skip cable, forget the morning coffee — following these frugal tips can help you save to your first million.

Invest in the Stock Market

The stock market could help you earn dollars without stashing it all away. Instead of just saving it, you’re making it.

If you start out with $5,000 and invest $500 per month, perhaps your goal isn’t that far-fetched. If you average 10 percent annual yields, you could reach your goal in 29 years. That’s not a bad retirement fund.

If you do choose to invest in the stock market, it’s a good idea to head to an investment agency such as Fisher Investments to help you manage your portfolio.

Invest in Real Estate

Image via Flickr by Philip Taylor PT

There are many options that you have for making money in real estate, and each method could put you on your way to your first million. Check out these ways you can make money with real estate:

  1. You can purchase homes, fix them up, and make profit by reselling them.
  2. You can rent out your property. You can expect as much as 8 percent annual returns on rent.
  3. Make profits from business ventures that take place on the property, such as farming or mining.

Start a Business

In the book The Millionaire Next Door, the authors state that most millionaires lead normal lives, not the fancy life you see portrayed by Hollywood. The authors outlined several characteristics that they noticed most millionaires share. Among these characteristics, the authors found that most millionaires own their own business and they love what they do.

Don’t jump the gun just yet and believe that this is a get-rich-quick scheme. You can’t just start a business and expect things to run smoothly while watching the profits roll in. There’s a few things you need first:

  • A really good idea
  • A strong business plan
  • A profitable market
  • Money to invest in the business

When starting a business, you can sell products, services, or consultation services, and you can work in a physical location or have a business based online. If you really want to cash in, the secret lies in launching a successful startup and selling your business.

Become an Expert

Image via Flickr by Pete Prodoehl

If you’re really set on your goal of a million dollars, you can quickly claim this by becoming an expert in your field of interest. Invest in your education, take advantage of opportunities, and learn as much as you can.

Once you become an expert, you can charge for consultation services, sell books, give speeches, sell advertising slots on your website, and hold leadership positions. As you do this, you’ll see your income rise.

Before you’re ready to jump into your studies, let’s explore a few tips that can help you earn via this method:

  1. People have to like you. Make sure you practice your public speaking skills.
  2. To make any money, you must have something important to say. If you’re consulting, writing books, or hosting seminars, your success depends on the amount of people who are willing to listen. Again, you’ll only make money advertising on your website if you have people coming to the site interested in your content.
  3. You better make sure you are an expert. A degree doesn’t necessarily make you an expert. Do research and get involved in your field.

If you’re motivated and willing to put in the time, a million dollars isn’t an unrealistic goal. So stop letting people tell you that you’ll never make it! These few suggestions can help make you a millionaire.