For the last few years, I was in a long distance relationship. Now, I'm not. You might suspect that I performed some sort of cost-benefit analysis of the relationship and made a calculated decision that it wasn't compatible with my financial goals, given that I have written here before about how expensive such a relationship can be. I can reassure you that I am not that cold and unemotional a person! There were many other reasons why I cut things off. But I'll confess the money aspect was a teensy tiny smidgen of a reason to shed a few less tears over it!
My ex- lived in another country. This led me to investigate a variety of strategies for cheaper telephone calls, including an international calling plan with AT&T and online calling cards. After moving to my current home a year ago, I never reinstated my AT&T international plan and just used the calling cards. Unfortunately, with those cards you sometimes get what you pay for-- the sound quality can be lousy. When you're trying to have a meaningful conversation about your future with someone, or lack thereof, it sucks to have to keep saying "what? I can't hear you!" So there were a couple of times when I called back on my home phone without thinking too much about it. I knew I didn't have the international plan any more but I thought, ok, maybe it cost 10 cents a minute with that plan, so without it, it will probably cost $1 or $2 a minute. Unfortunately, as I discovered when my phone bill arrived, it was actually about $5.00 a minute!
At this point, my volume of international calling has dropped quite a bit... but since we're trying to "stay friends," it hasn't gone away entirely. I decided to look into signing up for another international plan with AT&T so as not to have to keep committing myself to phone cards in $20 increments. Option 1, "Worldwide Value Calling," costs $5.00 a month, plus $0.08 per minute. Option 2, "Worldwide Occasional Calling," costs only $1.00 a month, plus $2.24 a minute. I used a little basic algebra to determine the break-even point:
Let X= the number of minutesSo, are we going to stay good enough friends to talk on the phone 1.85 minutes every month? I optimistically decided yes, and signed up for Worldwide Value Calling. I mean, I'd feel a little guilty relegating someone who's been so important to me to just "occasional" rather than "value." (At least until a decent period of time goes by!) If we talk one hour per month, I'll save $125.60 vs. the other plan. I budgeted $1,200 for telephone expenses this year, and am currently at over $1,300. Next year's spending should be far less... but keep an eye out for future posts on the costs of dating and new relationships, which I'm sure will wipe out any savings!
5+.08X = 1+2.24X
5-1= 2.24X - .08X