Is AT&T Really A Good Deal?

It seems that everywhere I drive in our area lately, there are service trucks and huge spools of bright orange fiber-optic cable being installed in the ground. Our local cable company has had the really fast cable for years, and AT&T has lagged behind in speed as well as price. But now they are installing new cable, making a huge push to speed up their internet and re-gain customers that they have lost over the years.

At least twice a week we get mail from AT&T, telling us how our family will save money if we switch back to them. The most recent was an offer of $94.99 a month for TV, home phone, and internet service. The same deal is offered online:

ATT deals

When you click on the details, the fine print lists a 24-month commitment, and says you must enroll in autopay and paperless billing to get this deal. After the first 12 months, the monthly cost jumps from $94.99 to $137.99 per month. But the initial page just said 12-months. Is it a 12-month commitment or a 24-month commitment? Not sure.

ATT deal 2

On top of the monthly fee, you have “taxes, $19.95 activation fee, applicable use tax expense surcharge on retail value of installation, equipment upgrades/add one, and certain other add’l fees & chrges.”

ATT deal 3

Although it’s not a perfect comparison to the AT&T deal, let’s look at what our family is doing for phone, internet, and TV services:

Phone service: We have two inexpensive cell phones, and put a Simple Mobile $25.00 card on each month. While the final cost with taxes used to be $26.50 for each phone, there have been more surcharges tacked on, so now each phone is $28.13 a month for unlimited nationwide calling/texting, international texting, and 3GB data.
Total for both phones: $56.26 per month

Internet service: Early in the year, we turned off our internet service with Comcast cable because we had used up all the good deals. After about five months without service, we were once again considered “new customers”, and able to take advantage of the good deals. I found an online offer with Comcast/Xfinity for $19.99 a month for 12 months. It’s their starter level, which gives us the 25 Mbps speed – not the fastest, but we are able to stream videos with no problem. (This is the same speed internet that AT&T is offering in their deal.) We have our own router and wifi devices, so there are no monthly rental equipment fees. Amazingly, there are no taxes or surcharges on our bill!
Total for internet service: $19.99 per month

Xfinity bill amount

TV service: We had been checking out DVDs from our local library, or watching some of our own DVDs. But on Thanksgiving weekend, Hulu offered a deal so sweet that I could not resist: 99 cents a month for a year! It only allows viewing on one device at a time, and there are commercials, but our family doesn’t watch tv very much. So I signed us up, and we’ve been happy with the selection of programs to watch when we get the itch for a little tv. No taxes or surcharges either! We also have our over-the-air antenna on the roof, which allows us to watch free live broadcast tv.
Total for tv service: $.99 a month

Hulu special deal

The grand total of our phone, internet, and tv service: $77.24 a month. That still beats out the AT&T offer, hands down. Our next challenge may be to try to bring down the phone cost, but it will probably not be feasible to go down to one phone. I encourage you to take a fine-tooth comb to your family’s budget, and see if you can get a better deal on your phone, internet, and tv costs. Don’t forget to read the fine print!

To read more about our family’s experiment, check out these posts:







The Green Glass Sea – by Ellen Klages (2006)

The Green Glass Sea

It was a strange and unsettled time for Dewey Kerrigan. The world was at war, and her father had joined a group of scientists in a secluded area of New Mexico. What they were working on was top-secret, and the little town did not appear on any maps. With her dad constantly working, and the other girls at school treating her with scorn, Dewey was lonely. To keep her mind occupied, she salvaged metal parts from the scientists’ junkyard and built all sorts of gadgets. As time went on, she did develop some friendships, but never felt completely at home.

I enjoyed the historic setting of this novel. It portrayed the frantic rush of scientists, the daily life on the compound, how children often fended for themselves, what the bomb site looked like, and the secrecy of the government. This book received the Scott O’Dell Award For Historic Fiction, and several other awards. It is definitely worth reading.

Gone Feral -by Novella Carpenter (2014)

Gone Feral

Novella, the author, grew up in a most unusual household. Her parents were hippie lovebirds who shunned modern conveniences and grew their own food. But after having two daughters, things changed. Novella’s mother was tired of the back-to-nature lifestyle, and just wanted a normal bathroom and a washing machine. But Novella’s father, George, loved being out in nature, cutting down trees, fishing, and being away from people. One day he simply walked out of their lives and never returned. So Novella and her sister grew up knowing almost nothing about their father.

The bulk of the story is about Novella trying to find her father and build a relationship with him. This proved to be a difficult and frustrating venture, as George did not appear to want to be found. His behavior was bizarre and suggested either post-traumatic-stress disorder or some sort of psychological condition.

I loved Novella’s perseverance in seeking out her father and attempting to build a relationship. Most people would have given up. Although George never really let her get close, it was probably about as good a father-daughter relationship as they would ever have. She made the effort to love her dad, and it brought peace and forgiveness into her heart. The take-away from this book? Family is family, no matter how crazy they are!

The Virtue Of Self-Control


I recently drove by a school that had the virtue of the month on its billboard: Self-Control. The irony, of course, is that during the month of December, almost no one exhibits self-control. It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or a teen or an adult. Come December, most folks seem to go into a state of temporary insanity.

They eat whatever they want. It doesn’t matter if they know they’re diabetic, heart-attack prone, or artery-clogged. People gorge themselves on sweet, cholesterol-laden goodies of infinite variety all month. They give it to other people, even if they know those people shouldn’t be eating the things they’re offering.

They spend w-a-a-a-a-y more than they can afford to buy. Everyone mentally compares what they are spending with what the other people at work, school, or church say they bought their loved ones. Guilt sets in. Gee, I love my family just as much as they do. What will my kids/co-workers think if I don’t spend at least close to what they spent? And kids listen to what other kids are bragging about getting for Christmas, and ask their parents why they can’t have the same things.

And sadly, many adults will have no self-control of their drinking at holiday parties. Later, they won’t remember much of their conversations with people, or what outrageous behavior they may have displayed.

Instead of waiting till January to come up with those great resolutions, how about starting now, in December? Make decisions that help you control your behavior as well as your wallet, and you’ll be a lot happier at the end of the year.

Snow Treasure – by Marie McSwigan (1942)

Snow Treasure

When our first snowfall of the season hit, it seemed the perfect time to pull out one of my favorite childhood novels, “Snow Treasure”. The book was written in 1942, while World War II was still going on. It’s about a small community in Norway in 1940 that is on the verge of becoming Nazi-occupied. A local banker devises a scheme to smuggle a large amount of gold bullion out of the country so that the occupying forces cannot take it. The village children will put bricks of gold on their sleds, and slide down the hill right past the soldiers, then pull the sleds the rest of the way to Uncle Victor’s ship, which will transport it to the United States.

I must say I found the story to be more exciting when I was a kid, believing it to actually be true! As an adult, I can see the improbability of this plan working. There was a fair amount of gold smuggled out of the country, but not by children on sleds. That being said, it makes an inspiring story for children, and shows that even if you’re only ten or twelve, there’s a lot you can do for your community.

About That Font Size…

This morning I started to work on a blog post for the audio-book I had listened to, and found that WordPress had totally changed their “editor” while I slept! Everything looks different now. I usually start off with a picture for my post. How do I add a photo? Well, maybe I’ll just do text today. Hey, why can’t I choose the font size I want? There are no font size measurements, just “small”, “normal”, “medium”, “large”, and “huge”.

(Ha, I figured out how to add photos!)

Gee, I hope this isn’t like Bible font sizes. If you’ve ever tried picking out a Bible at Barnes and Noble bookstore, you know that 95% of the Bibles have a font of size of 8 or 9, which the publishers seem to consider normal. Large-print Bibles run about size 11, while giant print is about size 14.

Compare this to any other book in the store. Most books have size 12 letters, with large print being about 14-16, and giant size about 18. I have asked myself many times over the years: Why would Bibles have a totally different idea of “normal”?

I think the answer is just that they are trying to include so much supplemental material that they have to use tiny print to get everything in. Depending on the Bible, they add commentaries, responsive readings, concordances, and study aids. While those are all helpful things, they often render the book itself bulky and heavy. No wonder so many people have switched to just reading their Bible on their phones or e-readers, where the font size can be adjusted.

Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In – by Louis Zamperini and David Rensin (2014)

Don't Give Up


Having read Mr. Zamperini’s thick, detailed biography “Unbroken”, I was excited to find another book about him at my local library. This book is much shorter, and is not a biography. It’s a collection of Mr. Zamperini’s reflections as he looked back over his life. He shared thoughts on how he survived many nearly impossible obstacles in life, and how to keep going when all the odds are against you.

Mr. Zamperini was 97 years old when he co-wrote the book with Mr. Rensin. Just two days after the manuscript was completed and sent off to the publisher, he passed from this life to the next. His work on earth was complete, and he left when he was finished.

On this last day of the Thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful for people like Mr. Zamperini who are willing to share their wisdom with the rest of us. He did it in such a humble way that it doesn’t come across as superior or preachy, and I look forward to meeting him someday.