Frugal Indoor Projects For When It Rains and Rains

It rained all night, and more rain is expected all day. Actually rain is expected for a week. No bike riding in this kind of weather. Usually my criteria to ride is a prediction of less than 40% chance of rain. I just need a half hour window of clear skies at exactly the right time, two times a day and I will ride. It's pretty obvious that summer time in Florida it rains, but I'm determined to not let it side track my plans if I can. So I plan on getting wet.
What about you? Are you going to pout and whine about it raining, or being too hot? Shit happens like this in the summer. Everyday actually. It's either hot or rainy. Both are good things, in their own way. So you have to just live with it. This is NORMAL. Get over it.
Do what you would do anyway. If you can't do anything outdoors, guess what - I bet you could do some indoor projects. There are lots of times during the year when we know we need to do a job but put if off saying "It's too nice out, let's do that some rainy afternoon". Well, here's my list -
  • clean the bathrooms - sink, vanity, mirror, toilet, shower, tub.
  • vacuum the carpets, mop the floors, even get out the attachments 
  • wash laundry
  • change the bed sheets
  • polish and dust the furniture, table tops, vents
  • clean and organize my desk - get rid of the piles of old mail and papers
  • paint touch up spots we missed from our remodel, plus other walls needing it
  • toss expired coupons, booklets and flyers. Label and organize the valid ones. 
  • clean up the pantry and toss old food and spices 
  • bake some cookies like chocolate chip
  • have sex with your partner, or by yourself
  • make some salads - like corn salsa, pea salad or broccoli salad
  • go through closets and clean out those clothes you haven't worn in two years
  • organize your spare room whatever you use it for, there is stuff in there that needs to be tossed out or donated.
The point is there are a lot of productive things you can do when the weather is not cooperative. Just make a "Honey Do" list and post it on the refrigerator. And cross things off as they are accomplished.

How To Apply For A Passport

We just got back from two trips requiring our passports and mine is about to expire in less than 2 weeks. Both times the immigration officer made me aware of that, and I let them know I'm on it and have my new picture at home ready to renew upon return.
It's actually pretty easy these days to get your passport, if you're a US citizen that is. You might think that obtaining, renewing or updating a passport would be a hassle as most dealings with the government are, but they've made it simple. Everything you need to know can be found online at the  U.S. Dept of State website.
To get your first passport
To get your first passport, you'll have to show up in person. Make an appointment at an acceptance facility or passport agency; search for the one closest to you here. You likely live near a facility where you can get a passport. Many post offices and even some public libraries can accept passport applications. Arrive at your passport agency with:
• Your filled-in DS-11 application form.
• Evidence of U.S. citizenship. Find a list of acceptable documents here.
• Valid identification. Find a list of acceptable ID here.
• A photocopy of the front and back of the identification you're bringing on clean, white 8½" x 11" paper.
• Your application fee. For a first-time adult passport, the total fee is $135.
• Passport photos. You can read more about the specifications for passport photos here. But most major drug stores, such as Walgreens or CVS, will sell appropriately sized passport photos that comply with government standards; this makes things a little easier.
Or you can go online to ePassportPhoto and submit your own digital print and they will size it - all for free (this is what we did). It will size 6 2x2 identical face shots on one print. But Walgreens and CVS will not print passport photos because they offer the service, so you need to delete 5 of these and just print one 2x2 per print and they won't notice it and it pass the muster. Just wait for a sale where they offer free prints and submit your digital picture online for free to pick up later that day.
Renewing a passport
You have two options here: Either you have your old passport or you don't. If the former's true, you can apply through the mail as long as your most recent passport is undamaged, was issued when you were at least 16 years old, and isn't more than 15 years old. If you are nodding "yes" to all of that, simply mail in your old passport with the required documents and photos, and you'll receive a new one in the mail in roughly four to six weeks. (Don't worry. You'll get your old passport back.) Here's what you need: Form DS-82, your renewal fee ($110 for an adult), passport photos, and your old passport. Get more information about renewing a passport through the mail here.
Keep in mind that if you've changed your name since your last passport was issued, include an original certificate or court order that documents this; those without such papers must apply for a renewal in person.
Don't have your old passport? Then you can't get a passport renewed by mail. Head to a passport agency in person.
You can check the status of a pending passport application here.
Passports for kids
For children ages 15 and younger, the fees and requirements for getting a passport are a little different than those for adults. Essentially, parents need to provide identification in addition to proof that they are legal guardians for child applicants. Guardians in two-parent households must appear together with the young applicants or provide a notarized statement of consent from the absentee adult. Single parents must appear in person as well. And all parents must show proof of legal guardianship; this would include a birth certificate or a court order.
A passport for a minor costs $105. And the usual—Form DS-11, a standard passport photo, and the appropriate identification for parent(s) and child—must be brought to your local passport office. Read more about getting a passport for a child here.

List of State Free Fishing Days

Alabama 6/8/13
Arkansas Noon 6/7/13 until midnight 6/9/13
Arizona 6/1/13 & 6/8/13
California 7/6/13 & 9/7/13
Colorado 6/1/13 - 6/2/13
Connecticut 5/11/2013
District of Columbia 6/1/13 - 6/9/13
Delaware 6/8/13 & 6/9/13
Florida 4/6/13 & 6/8/13 (fresh)

6/1/13 & 9/1/13 (salt)
Georgia 6/1, 6/8 & 9/28/13
Hawaii 365 days a year (marine)
Iowa 6/7/13 to 6/9/13, IA residents only
Idaho 6/8/2013
Illinois 6/7/13 to 6/10/13
Indiana 6/1/13 & 6/2/13, IN residents only
Kansas 6/1/13 & 6/2/13
Kentucky 6/1/13 & 6/2/13
Maryland 6/1, 6/8 & 7/4/13
Maine 2/16 & 2/17/13; 6/1 & 6/2/13
Michigan 2/16 & 2/17/13; 6/8 & 6/9/13
Minnesota 6/7/13 to 6-9/13, with youth
Missouri 6/8/13 to 6/9/13
Mississippi 6/1 to 6/2/13 (fresh); 7/4/213 (salt)
Montana 6/15/13 to 6/16/13
North Carolina 7/4/13
North Dakota 6/1/13 to 6/2/13, ND residents only
Nebraska 5/18/2013
New Hampshire 6/1/213
New Jersey 6/15/13 & 6/16/13
New Mexico 6/1/13 & 9/28/13
New York 6/29/13 & 6/30/13
Nevada 6/8/13
Ohio 5/4/13 & 5/5/13
Oklahoma 6/1/13 & 6/2/13
Oregon 6/1/13 & 6/2/13
Pennsylvania 5/27/13 & 7/4/13
Rhode Island 5/4/13 & 5/5/13
South Carolina 5/27/13 & 7/4/13
South Dakota 5/17/13 to 5/19/13
Tennessee 6/8/2013
Texas 6/1/213
Utah 6/8/2013
Virginia 6/7/13 to 6/9/13
Vermont 6/8/2013
Washington 6/8/13 & 6/9/13
Wisconsin 6/1/13 & 6/2/13
West Virginia 6/8/13 & 6/9/13
Wyoming 6/1/213

I Found This Wallet In The Road Today

So, as I was riding my bike to work today, I'm always scanning the road ahead to avoid hazards such as glass, nails, staples etc. If you recall, I just got a flat tire last week (almost 80 bike miles ago) so I am extra careful now. Today, I happened upon a bunch of debris, like most days but this little area had some unique and identifiable items, like a smashed cell phone, the squished battery, and a leather wallet. OOOOOOHH, maybe it has a bunch of money! We didn't obviously win the millions on Powerball last night, since I actually have to go to work still.
So, I gracefully did a U turn and scooped up the wallet and took a quick glance to see if it were really worth retrieving. Upon initial inspection I saw it had a Driver's License and a couple credit cards, a workplace door scan card and a five dollar bill. So, I tucked it into one of my pannier pockets and continued on.
During the remainder of my ride I thought about how to go about getting the wallet to the owner. I hate to admit that if there had been a lot of money, I probably would have kept the cash, but for all I know it already has been pilfered and then cast aside on the road. The five bucks was kind of hidden so the original finder probably missed it. But since recent legislation the cost of getting a new driver license is very costly, approaching a hundred bucks, so I figure the owner would appreciate that back at least. The credit cards are probably cancelled already, plus they are all broken and split from being run over by trucks at the asphalt plant right there on the roadside.
Several years ago I lost my wallet. I left my wallet on the counter at Five Guys and someone took it within a few minutes. When I realized it was gone and searched around for it, it was too late. It really sucked because I had hundreds in cash, gift cards and of course my DL and credit cards. It was a hassle to get it all straightened out plus it cost me more money, plus what I lost in the wallet. So, I always like to return things I find - if I can find the owner.
So, I know the dude's phone is smashed on the side of the road so I can't call him even if I did have his phone number. And since I'm on a data diet on my smartphone, I don't check facebook anymore or email pictures or stuff that uses data. (Actually, that's another whole story - it's killin me to go from using over 1 million MB/month down to less than 1000 MB/month!!!).
So, I googled the guys name and found out he's on Facebook. Which is blocked of course - like half the internet at work. Since DH has a secret offline stand alone extra computer for espionage, I asked him to help. So I have DH log into facebook using one of my coupon fake Facebook accounts with no personal information or friends and he left a message for the owner to call our Google voice number which will forward to my phone. I wanted to leave a post and picture on the guys FB Wall so all his friends would see someone found his lost wallet and perhaps tell him to check Facebook - but he has his Wall blocked from posts. I also figured out via google this guy is married and who his wife is, and found her phone number. I can contact her further on FB when I get home and its not blocked on my computer. They live kind of close to my office and if I get in contact they can pick up the wallet from the reception guard at my workplace.
So now it's wait and see. If I hear nothing, I might take the five bucks to pay for postage to ship it to his house.
But of course, there is a lesson to be learned in this. If someone found your wallet, would they be able to contact you and return it? Is your phone number and perhaps a phone number of a friend in your wallet - in case your phone is lost too? Maybe you could even put a note in your wallet if any one finds it that they will discover with information on how to return it to you?

Ride Your Bike Week May 13 - 17, 2013

This week is ride your bike to work week, and this coming Friday May 17, 2013 is Ride Your Bike to Work Day. So far, I've ridden my bike every day and plan to ride the rest of the week as well. The weather here in FL is beautiful, so there is no excuse not to ride. Even if you can't ride to work, you can probably ride a bike to the grocery store or the bank or the library.

Five Steps to Riding Better

1. Follow the Rules of the Road
• Ride with traffic and obey the same laws as motorists.
• Use the rightmost lane that heads in the direction that you are traveling.
• Obey all traffic control devices, such as stop signs, lights, and lane markings.
• Always look back and use hand and arm signals to indicate your intention to stop, merge or turn.
2. Be Visible
• Ride where drivers can see you.
• Wear brightly colored clothing at all times.
• At night, use a white front light and red rear light or reflector. Wear reflective tape or clothing.

3. Be Predictable
• Ride in a straight line and don't swerve between parked cars.
• Make eye contact with motorists to let them know you are there.
• Do not ride on the sidewalk.
4. Anticipate Conflicts
• Be aware of traffic around you and be prepared to take evasive action.
• Learn braking and turning techniques to avoid crashes.
• Be extra alert at intersections.
5. Wear a Helmet
• Make sure that the helmet fits on top of your head, not tipped back or forward.
• After a crash or any impact that affects your helmet, visible or not, replace it immediately.
Follow the links to the right for a wealth of information for cyclist of all types and level of experience. If you don't find what you need under the main headings, visit the miscellaneous link for information on mountain biking, riding with kids, tandem bicycles, emergency maneuvers, and more!
If you are looking for courses to learn more, visit the Bike Education page and sign up for a League class!
Via Bike League

The Price You Pay For Your Life

Today I sat in eight hours of boring meetings, except for the twenty minutes when I gave my presentation of course. Except not really, mine was really boring too. It was all data and numbers that are purely speculative and not very meaningful to the manager's in the audience. They also were bad numbers about how thousands and thousands of cases are stuck in a status where they will not move without our clients cooperation. And that won't happen.
So, In addition to listening to the state of the world at work which was depressing and boring, some of the people (actually a lot of the people) spent over an hour in traffic commuting to our office for this big meeting. Some of the people actually work out of my office and drive over an hour, one lady drives 90 minutes! Just to get to our boring job! But, she's a manager and probably has hopes of climbing up the career ladder and attaining one of the few higher choice positions that will open up in a few years as people retire with their nice thirty years of service and a comfortable pension. But to do this she will have to drive fifteen hours a week(1.5 hr x10) times fifty weeks for a total of 750 hours/year (an equivalent of 18.75 work weeks). This is in addition to her work week of 40 hours, so effectively her work week is 55 hours.
To me this is absolutely ridiculous. There is no way in hell, I would drive more than thirty minutes to work anywhere. I've never done it and I never will. Don't people calculate the cost of the their time and cost of travel when they interview for a job? Maybe not. Maybe those pristine little ponds in their backyards are worth the drive, I don't know. But I do know that some jobs aren't worth the money. The golden handcuffs are not always shiny and bright. There is often a price that people sometimes pay, but forget to calculate into their costs - of their job. Its either the commute, or the stress, or the hours and the fact that you won't really just work the forty hours you're paid for its often more in corporate America. And all the office politics that come into play. It's exhausting. Then the crazy commute home with all those stressed out people texting and driving like they're drunk. It's madness that I want no part of.
Anyway, I enjoy my bike ride to work. It always the highlight of my day.

Expect The Unexpected

It was a beautiful cool morning (65F) for a bike ride. There is practically no chance of rain all week. Part of my route has been newly paved, so I can tolerate the bumpy gravelly surface of the torn up portions of the road. The last part of my ride is on a side road heading due east so I can coast and cool down and watch the sunrise. I was therefore a little surprised when my bike started getting squirrely on me as I rolled along. Looking down, I noticed I had a tire going flat. So, I hopped off and sure enough there was a big construction staple stuck in the side wall of my back tire. Of course, its the back - it always is.
Anyway, my Continental Touring Plus tire has done me good. I think its been about three years since I got a flat tire, thanks to that kevlar puncture protection layer. And believe me, I've pulled out glass, tacks, staples and such from the tire that actually haven't punctured the tire. Of course I've been carrying around tools, a spare tube and my mini pump for all these years and today I finally got to use the stuff. I also had the sense to protect the brand new 1 week old carpet in my office so chunks of black bike goo wouldn't get it dirty.
Always expect the unexpected and you'll be ready for it when it happens. You'll be self sufficient and able to get yourself out of a potential problem. In some cases, it won't even be a problem. Why is everyone so surprised when I tell them I had a flat tire and already fixed it, all by myself. Isn't that what it's all about?
Be ready for anything.

5/5 Sunday Coupon Inserts - RP SS

Redplum 5/5
ACT $1/1 16.9 or 18oz bottle excluding Dry Mouth (6/15/13)
ACT $1/1 Dry Mouth product (6/15/13)
ACT $2/1 33.8oz bottle excluding Dry Mouth (6/15/13)
all $1/1 liquid, powder or mighty pacs ets (6/16/13)
Allegra $1.50/1 anti-itch cream (8/3/13)
Allegra $5/1 30ct+ regular, any D or any Children's (8/3/13)
Angel Soft $.45/1 4pk double roll+ (6/5/13)
Angel Soft $1/2 4pk double roll+ (6/5/13)
Australian Gold $1/1 sun care product 3oz+ excluding lip balm (7/7/13)
Bayer $1/1 Aspirin Regimen product 20ct+ (8/15/13)
C&H $1/1 Organic Light or Amber Blue Agave Nectar (7/28/13)
Caltrate $2/1 calcium & vitamin D3 supplement (8/4/13)
Centrum $3/1 regular, Silver Multivitamin 80ct+, Specialist or Flavor Burst multivitamin 60ct+ (6/1/13)
Cortizone-10 $1.50/1 item 1oz+ (7/7/13)
Cortizone-10 $1.50/1 poison ivy relief pads (7/7/13)
DermaSilk %$5/1 full size product (5/18/13)
Garnier Fructis B1G1 free shampoo or conditioner 13oz (6/2/13)
got2b $2/1 styling item (6/15/13)
Hefty $.55/1 waste bags (8/31/13)
i-cool $2/1 For Menopause or Bone Builder +D (7/5/13)
Icy Hot $2/1 Advanced product (8/31/13)
Icy Hot $2/1 arthritis lotion product excludes 1ct back patch (8/31/13)
Icy Hot/Aspercreme/Capzasin $1/1 product
L'Oreal $2/1 haircolor product (6/29/13)
NeilMed $3/1 NasaMist All-in-One, NasaMist Extra Strength or Nasaflo Neti Pot (5/31/13)
Osteo Bi-Flex $3/1 30-60ct (6/20/13)
Osteo Bi-Flex $5/1 70ct+ (6/20/13)
Peanuts & Panko$1/1 box (6/30/13)
Pedigree $1/1 dry dog food 3.5lb+ (6/30/13)
Pedigree $1/1 Little Champions variety pack 8 or 12ct or 6 single pouches, 6 trays or 6 13.2oz cans (6/30/13)
Pure Protein $1/1 4pk 23g shakes, 1 or 2lb protein powder or value packs (6/23/13)
Pure Protein $1/2 bars (6/23/13)
Sally Hansen $4/1 nail color minimum $4.99 purchase excluding Hard as Nails and Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear (6/5/13)
Sally Hansen $5/1 Salon Insta-Gel Strips starter kit or Salon Insta-Gel Strips (6/5/13)
Soft Scrub $1/1 Advanced Surface (6/1/13)
Soft Scrub $1/1 product (6/1/13)
Sparkle $.25/1 3pk roll or smaller (6/15/13)
Sparkle $1/1 6pk roll+ (6/15/13)
Sundown Naturals $1/1 vitamin or supplement product (6/4/13)
Weight Watchers $3/10 Smart Ones frozen products (6/16/13)
Welch's $1/2 refrigerated juice cocktails 59oz (7/31/13)
Smartsource 5/5
Atkins $1/1 bar 5pk dnd (7/31/13)

Atkins $1/1 frozen meal dnd (7/31/13)
Atkins $1/1 shake 4pk dnd (7/31/13)
Aveeno $2/1 hair care or body wash product ets (6/30/13)
Benadryl $1/1 topical product (5/31/13)
Bengay $3/1 pain relief product ets (5/31/13)
BIC $3/1 Soleil disposable razor ets (6/2/13)
BIC $1/1 For Her product (7/31/13)
Carefree $.50/1 product 36ct+ (7/31/13)
Claritin $2/1 10ct+ (6/2/13)
Claritin $4/1 D 15ct+ (6/2/13)
Claritin $5/1 24ct+ (6/2/13)
Clean & Clear $1/1 product ets (6/30/13)
Clean & Clear $3/2 Advantage products ets (6/30/13)
Clear Care $1.50/1 solution 12oz (6/14/13)
Delimex $1/1 product (6/16/13)
Destin $.75/1 diaper rash ointment product ets (6/30/13)
Ensure $5/2 shakes or Ensure Clear multi-packs (6/30/13)
Farmer John $2/1 smoked sausage (7/5/13)
Febreze $.50/1 carpet deodorizing powder (6/30/13)
Fiber One $.50/2 Chewy Bars, 90 Calorie Chewy Bars, 90 Calorie Brownies or Protein Chewy Bars (6/29/13)
French's $1/1 dijon or honey dijon mustard (7/31/13)
General Mills $1/3 Big G cereals (6/15/13)
Glade $.75/1 fragrance mist starter (6/29/13)
Glade $1.50/1 PlugIns Scented Oil twin refill or 2 single refills (6/29/13)
Glade $1/1 Decor Scents holder, twin refill or 2 single refills (6/29/13)
Glade $2/1 Sense & Spray starter kit (6/29/13)
Glucerna $1/1 multi-pack bars (6/30/13)
Glucerna $5/2 multi-pack shakes (6/30/13)
Hershey's $1/1 chocolates bag 8oz+ (7/28/13)
Hormel $1/1 Compleats microwave meal (7/1/13)
ICaps $3/1 eye vitamin formula (6/14/13)
Johnson's $.50/1 baby product excluding 1-4oz size, hand & face wipes and Buddies and Kids 1ct sudsizing bar (6/30/13)
Johnson's $.75/1 baby hair care product excluding sizes 1-4oz (6/30/13)
Johnsonville $.75/1 breakfast sausage (6/30/13)
Joint Juice $1/1 product (1/31/14)
Ken's $1/1 16oz dressing (6/30/13)
Kraft $1/2 natural cheese slices (6/5/13)
Lactaid $1/1 fast act dietary supplement 32ct+ dnd (8/5/13)
MiraLAX $1/1 10ct or 14 dose+ (6/16/13)
MiraLAX $3/1 30 dose (6/16/13)
Mitchum $1/1 Men or Women excludes trial and multipacks (6/9/13)
Neutrogena $1.50/1 sunless product ets (9/1/13)
Neutrogena $1/1 cosmetics product (5/31/13)
Neutrogena $1/1 facial cleanser or moisturizer (6/5/13)
Neutrogena $1/1 hair or body product ets (6/8/13)
Neutrogena $1/1 suncare product ets (9/1/13)
Neutrogena $2.50 off cleanser& moisturizer (6/5/13)
Neutrogena $3/2 cosmetics products (5/31/13)
Nexcare $.55/1 bandages (6/30/13)
Nexcare $.55/1 first aid tape (6/30/13)
O-Cel-O $.75/2 scrub or plain sponges (6/30/13)
OPTI-FREE $1.50/1 solution 10oz+ (6/14/13)
Ore-Ida $1.50/2 products 16oz+ (6/16/13)
Pasta Prima $1/1 pasta or sauce (6/30/13)
Philadelphia $.50/1 cream cheese spread (6/8/13)
Philips Sonicare $10/1 rechargeable toothbrush or Sonicare Airfloss excludes Essence & Xtreme models (6/30/13)
Philips Sonicare $15/1 DiamondClean, Flexcare+ or Flexcare rechargeable toothbrush (6/30/13)
Philips Sonicare $4/1 brush heads or Essence or Xtreme toothbrush (6/30/13)
RoC $3/1 anti-aging product ets (6/30/13)
Rug Doctor $3/1 pet formula carpet cleaner 48oz+ (7/31/13)
Rug Doctor $5/1 rental (7/31/13)
Scrubbing Bubbles $1/2 bathroom cleaners or toilet cleaning products (6/16/13)
Seattle's Best Coffee $3/2 12 or 20oz bags (7/7/13)
Sergeant's $.75/1 shampoo (7/31/13)
Sergeant's $1/1 Vetscriptions product (7/31/13)
Sergeant's $3/1 Pronyl OTC product for dogs or cats 3 dose+ (7/31/13)
Sergeant's $5/1 Pronyl OTC Max product for dogs or cats (7/31/13)
So Delicious Dairy Free $1/1 purchase (7/31/13)
Spam $1/2 products 10oz (7/1/13)
Spam $1/2 single products (7/1/13)
Stayfree $1/1 product (7/31/13)
SYSTANE $1.50/1 lubricant eye drop or gel formula (6/14/13)
TGI Fridays $2/3 frozen snacks (6/16/13)
Tree Top .75/1 100% juice blends 64oz (6/16/13)
TruBiotics $1/1 probiotic supplement product (7/31/13)
Tyson $1/1 stuffed mini bread bowls, breakfast bowls or mini chicken sandwiches (8/5/13)
VanCamp's $.40/1 baked beans (6/15/13)
Windex $1/2 products (6/16/13)
Windex/Scrubbing Bubbles $5/5 bathroom or toilet cleaning products (6/16/13)
Yoplait $.50/1 Greek yogurt 4pk or Greek yogurt with granola 2pk (6/29/13)
Yoplait $.75/2 Go-Gurt, Kids Cup, Trix multipack, Pro-Force or Baby (6/29/13)
Zadiator $2.50/1 5ML+ (7/31/13)
Ziploc $1/3 bags (6/15/13)
Ziploc $1/3 slider bags (6/15/13)

thanks to

$25 Amazon Gift Card #Giveaway

In case you missed this announcement, there is a $25 Amazon GC Giveaway with low entries. Take a few minutes and enter now!

How I Left Sprint and Kept My Same Smartphone

I admit that I'm hooked on my smartphone, an older model Samsung Epic 4G. I signed up with Sprint a little over two years ago and was hoping to switch over to DH's Sprint SERO plan when my contract was up. Well, Sprint won't let his grandfathered $30 plan have any extra lines at that price. So, I'm quitting Sprint. Actually, I already quit and it happened overnight.
I'm now up and running on my same phone with same phone number after porting my number to Ting (#ad). I used to pay $80.10 for a monthly plan that gave me unlimited everything, but month after month my usage is around 250 minutes calling, 250 texts and 1GB of data. I just signed up for Ting at $44/month for 500 minutes calling, 1000 texts and 1000 MB of data.  And I have no contract so I am free to change carriers if this does not work. But for saving $36 a month on my smartphone, I will make it work. I've effectively cut my bill in half, so now my phone will cost just over $500 a year, rather than $961/year. 
If you're interested in switching, Ting runs on the Sprint network, so if you have a Sprint phone (no iphones allowed on Ting though) you can bring your own device and it will work. You can also buy a phone from them or use an unlocked phone from another provider. Ting has a referral program where you would get $25 in phone credit or services credit by using this link.
I realized while on a cruise last week, that I can get by without constantly checking my phone, since it was out of commission as I was out of the country. Sure I had thousands of feeds and emails and texts when I signed back on - but I didn't have to have all that stuff. I just deleted without reading to start fresh. Now I will need to try to change my usage behavior and use Wi-fi more which won't use my data plan. There are lots of places that have free Wi-fi like the grocery stores, libraries, and my home. I sit at a computer all day long and can check my finances and weather on the PC rather than using my phone. I've started putting it in a drawer instead of being plugged in on top of my desk  beckoning me to check something every five minutes.
As part of my frugal lifestyle, I'm seeking to minimize wasteful, costly activities and behaviors in my daily life. Getting a cheaper phone plan is a step in the right direction. I realize there are more options, and LIfehacker outlines a lot of them here. So, if you are out of contract, check out your options before you commit to that expensive plan.