Can't Bring Myself to Pay for a Data Plan! Help!
April 8, 2009 11:58 AM   Subscribe

RidiculousFilter: How can I make an extra $30 a month to ease a psychological itch? Details inside!!

I decided that I want an iPhone. I see them all over the place and they look so fun and useful that I simply cannot live without one. Alas, my psychological barriers won't allow me to pay the extra monthly fee for the data plan. :(

I've conditioned myself to avoid unnecessary recurring fees like the plague in past attempts at frugality. Of course it never really helped me save money - I still bought (and buy) single items all willy-nilly, which is why I don't have a problem buying an iPhone in the first place. Just the extra monthly cost associated with it.

So in order to trick myself into willingly paying the extra $30 each month, I need to make an extra $30 each month. Here's the hard part - I can't just save that thirty dollars elsewhere. I need to perform an action that results in $30 or more being paid to me so I can look at the check (or deposit notice) and think to myself, "Well there that offsets the extra data plan cost! You can feel better now!" Oh, and I'm salaried so just putting in an extra hour at work wouldn't... uh, work.

Am I being neurotic about the whole thing? Yeah. Should I just get over it and pay the measly thirty bones? Probably. Should I skip the iPhone if I feel I can't afford it? Most definitely! But I don't care. I want that beer drinker app so bad I can taste it.

So what can I easily do to score a $30+ paycheck every month? Help a crazy walk around with an unnecessary, trendy electronic gadget!

P.S. Bonus points for covering the rest of the cell phone bill as well.
posted by Willie0248 to Work & Money (32 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Dog walking

Paper editing

posted by availablelight at 12:00 PM on April 8, 2009

Put $9,000 in a 4% CD
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:06 PM on April 8, 2009 [5 favorites]

If you live in an urban area, you can easily find $30 worth of things in the garbage to resell on craigslist.

My wife does this all the time. If you're interested, msg or email me and I'll tell you our dumpster diving secrets.

posted by allthewhile at 12:07 PM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Get yourself a credit card that gives you cash back on all your purchases, and pay for everything with it. Then make sure you pay it off every month, even twice a month to avoid ever paying financing fees. If you get 1% cash back on all your purchases, you only need to spend $3000 in a month. Consider the extra time spent online making sure your payments are current 'work.'
posted by rocketpup at 12:07 PM on April 8, 2009

Deliver pizzas for 2 weeks and bank the paycheck and tips. You've just paid for your data plan for a year.
posted by COD at 12:11 PM on April 8, 2009

Response by poster: Man, great suggestions guys. Keep em coming!
posted by Willie0248 at 12:16 PM on April 8, 2009

Sell whatever you can on eBay. Keep selling stuff and bank the money until you have a comfortable cushion to cover several months. When you get to the end of the cushion, sell more stuff, or go to another fund-raising plan.

Also: there are lots of ways to freelance, with very basic skills. Scan photos. Create resumes and other documents in Word (use templates, even), etc. Make an inventory of your skills (even if they are rudimentary) and figure out which ones are marketable.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 12:17 PM on April 8, 2009

Do a few mystery-shopper gigs each month.

Check out Total Research Solutions's mystery shopper program, called Field Force. You try products and services, evaluate them, and you make a few bucks for each one. You'd probably have to do between 4 and 7 of these a month to make the $30 you're talking about.

There are many mystery shop sites on the web that are scams. Total Research is not one of them (They were an employer of mine some years ago, and they're a legit research outfit).
posted by DWRoelands at 12:18 PM on April 8, 2009 [4 favorites]

See if you can get your employer to pay for all or part of it. This only works if you're not self-employed and your job involves email/technology in some way of course.
posted by zachlipton at 12:26 PM on April 8, 2009

I you currently have AT&T and have been a long time customer, email them describing what a great customer you are and how you want to get the data plan. Then ask them to give you a 10% discount on your phone plan and data plan.

I did this with Sprint. At first they said no, then a month later I started getting 10% off my bill.

It may only save you $10/month, but then you only need to work to get $20/month t and this was a one time letter.

Good luck!
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 12:26 PM on April 8, 2009

Wait tables once or twice a week.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:27 PM on April 8, 2009

Take the bike or walk, refund yourself for estimated saved gasoline and add a bonus for future saved doctor costs.
Bake your own bread and put the saved amount into a shoebox.
Skip all prefab meals, useless magazine buys and soft drinks and learn to make your own awesome cappuccino. Shoebox again.
posted by Namlit at 12:36 PM on April 8, 2009

Teach a night class at your local vocational or technical school. Danger: you might make more than $30/month.
posted by jessamyn at 12:37 PM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Note that AT&T will not give you a discount on your iPhone plan. Steve Jobs rules over iPhone pricing parameters with an iron fist. AT&T is even prohibited from offering early upgrades to the iPhone from other devices.
posted by rocketpup at 12:39 PM on April 8, 2009

posted by deadcrow at 12:43 PM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Babysitting. You could probably make $30 in one night babysitting.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:45 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hmmm, I made several times that when I was running affiliate marketing ads on my blog...
posted by chez shoes at 12:48 PM on April 8, 2009

This won't cover the full $30, but find out whether your employer has any agreement with AT&T for discounts on employees' personal plans. Mine didn't when I first got my iPhone, but a few months later they started offering it, and I signed up. So now I get 15% (a little more than $10) off my AT&T bill every month with no strings attached.
posted by Nothlit at 12:49 PM on April 8, 2009

My city's local blog pays about $8 per article- maybe you could become a blogger.

Sell your crap on Craigislist. Go for a walk on garbage day every week & find something sellable, or visit a local Goodwill or Salvation Army to find something you can re-sell. A friend re-sold her own junk + roadside finds like small desks, lamps, mirrors, books, office chairs, etc. You could also pick up & re-sell stuff from the Ikea as-is section or weird overstock stores. Once I even sold my old bedsheets for $10/set... they were faded old jersey sheets, nothing special. A nicely-dressed woman drove halfway across the city to buy them for her cottage, it was amazing.

Rent your home's driveway as a parking space (again, use Craigslist). $50/month is customary in my neck of the woods. Or could you sublet a room or floor in your place? That could get you much more than $30.

Partake in a research study at your local college (Craigslist: search "study", there will likely be a whole section of these where a focus group or experiment pays $10-$40).

Sell blood or other, uh, fluids?

Ask your landlord if you can get a $30 rent break in exchange for domestic chores like yard work or cleaning the common areas of the building, etc.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:51 PM on April 8, 2009

Be a life drawing model at your local art college. There will be nude paintings of you kicking around, but it pays about $50/hr.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:53 PM on April 8, 2009

skip the iPhone and get an iPod Touch instead, which has no monthly fee. keep in mind that if you sell something for, say, $120, that's 4 months of $30 monthly fees.
posted by mrg at 1:03 PM on April 8, 2009

If you have other subscription services with monthly fees that you'll use less because you're spending your time on the iPhone, (e.g., Netflix, satellite radio, MMOs, the gym!!) dump 'em.

If you buy lunch every day, vow to bring it from home at least once or twice a week.
posted by gnomeloaf at 1:38 PM on April 8, 2009

You can't sell blood to be transfused, but you can sell plasma at a plasma center (it's an automated system where they filter out your plasma but you keep all the other blood components). The plasma is used for medical products, research, etc. You will probably make $30 per visit.
posted by radioamy at 1:41 PM on April 8, 2009

Oh yeah, babysitting is the way to go. Try to find someone with really young kids and a pleasant house (they sleep the whole time and you get to curl up with your iPhone on a comfy couch).
posted by cranberrymonger at 1:54 PM on April 8, 2009

Write an iPhone app.
posted by bendy at 1:54 PM on April 8, 2009

Do check the fine print if AT&T gives a discount for your employer. I have a 25% discount, but it doesn't cover iPhone data plans.

Awesome question, btw. I have been pining for an iPhone for a while and I'm holding out from the same ridiculous philosophical objection. Even the 25% off of the rest of my wireless plan isn't enough for me.
posted by ellenaim at 1:58 PM on April 8, 2009

The extra money you will be reciving each paycheck from the Stimulus bill will probably be about $30/mo.
posted by itsamonkeytree at 2:32 PM on April 8, 2009

When I had a medium-sized lawn in front of my house and was too busy/lazy to mow, edge, rake and sweep every week, the going rate was 40$. Get a used lawn mower and hit up the neighborhood.

If just a few people want that, it'll cost you 1-1.5 hours each on a weekend, but totally pay for the data plan and the mower, with plenty left over.
posted by ctmf at 3:20 PM on April 8, 2009

Walk the neighborhood, offer to rake yards, do gardening, etc.

Put up a flyer at a retirement community offering to clean viruses off pcs at 50/hour.

What Jessamyn said, adding Adult Education classes. Can you teach people how to make the perfect lemon meringue pie in 1 evening? Or do a workshop on making glass blob magnets, how to do mailmerge from Word, how to speedclean a house? The people at my Adult Ed. program will try just about any offering. You have to go to them with some sort of curriculum, but it's easy, and really fun.
posted by theora55 at 5:16 PM on April 8, 2009

Ha, I need some help at my house and scanning material and I can definitly support someone at $30 a month.

Other suggestions include cleaning houses and that can be very good money if you are reliable and produce a very clean house.
posted by jadepearl at 5:32 PM on April 8, 2009

Long time ATT customer? I am, from way back in the dizay before our local company was ATT. Like, from 1999. Anyway, my data plan is $15 a month. It's an option. I can tether too, although I don't use an iPhone, and really I think it's the iPhone software that makes it easy to restrict tethering. WinMo 6.1 for the win.

But I digress. Call 'em up and say your buddy has a $15 unlimited data plan, and you want it too, and yes it means you'll order the new phone TODAY and yes yes YES you'll sign up for the BS 30 day software trial crap that you have to remember to cancel in time. See, they get cash for everything they up-sell you on.

When I got my new tele from ATT a couple months ago, I called, told 'em the phone I wanted, what voice plan I wanted, and that I wanted cheap data and a discount on my bill OR the activation waived. I got all 3. :)

Worth a shot!

By the way, you might have a better shot saying you'll take a gen 2 right before (or after) the 3.0's come out, but if I were you I'd want the 3.0.
posted by TomMelee at 6:37 PM on April 8, 2009

I'm seconding the iPod Touch suggestion. I have a Verizon account that I prefer to keep but love the iPhone, so I got the best of both worlds by purchasing the iPod Touch. It does just about everything the iPhone does except take pictures and make cell calls. However, with the $29 mic/headphone set I can make internet-based voice calls (e.g. skype-to-skype) or voIP calls to cell phones and landlines via wifi. But that's just some added fun and totally not necessary for enjoying the iPod Touch.
posted by Piscean at 12:21 PM on April 9, 2009

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