How I shaved 8000 yen off my phone bill

Our mobile provider is au, and back in 2011 I picked it for its favourable reviews (everybody told me Softbank had lousy coverage while docomo was expensive) and its campaign featuring Arashi at the time (I’ve been an Arashi fan for 15 years; all the members are my favourite).

An screenshot from that era; image ripped from Google

I have been a satisfied customer of au, but I’ve always found the bill expensive. Up until January this year my husband and I each owned a smartphone. Our bill, including the monthly instalment for our phones (zero-dollar phones are not unheard of here, but we wanted to choose the model we liked) would add up to about 7000 to 8000 yen each. That’s about 14 000 to 15 000 yen a month.

Still, I wanted to stick with au because their customer support is excellent – I like being able to head down to the shops to ask them for advice, like which plan should I switch to if I want to save money, how should I get a tablet with minimal costs, etc. They’ve never sought to deceive me and sometimes even give me tips on how to take advantage of their plans ^^;; (Not explicitly, of course.)

So stick with au I did, until we noticed that Husband wasn’t really using his phone and the 7000 yen he was paying every month wasn’t justified. The only person he was calling was me; his friends would just Line him or Whatsapp him. He did surf the internet on his phone, though not frequently and upon coming home he’d switch to WiFi. This made his phone greatly underused, but he had a solution.

He was going phoneless.

It made a lot of sense. Husband is either with me or at work (I know it sounds like he has no life; he assures me he is living his best life) so he will always be reachable in emergencies because someone around him will always have a phone. If not, someone who knows him and is reachable by a number (i.e. his workplace or me) will have his Line contact and thus have the ability to call him via their own mobile internet/chat app. Husband didn’t need a number. All he needed was a mobile device connected to the internet.


I had just upgraded to a 30GB data plan with all outgoing calls made within five minutes free. Husband’s phone contract was ending. He also wanted an iPad Pro.

au was selling iPad Pros.

The timing was perfect.

So we went to au, said we weren’t renewing Husband’s phone plan, cancelled that number, bought an iPad Pro under my number, and had it hooked up to my 30GB plan, sharing data with my smartphone. This meant Husband and I would have 30GB to play with every month, and get this – any data leftover for the month would roll over to the next month, so technically every day we have a crapload of mobile internet to spend on frivolities like streaming Netflix from Kagohara all the way to Tokyo. (That trip is over an hour long, by the way.)

I got my phone bill for March a couple days ago and am happy to report we are spending slightly over 8000 yen for two devices and 30GB of data. It is a really sweet deal and the best decision we’ve made for our finances this year. Yay for savings, and being able to spend on more frivolities 😉


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