The other day, my husband Mike and I shocked our children.

What did we do to make our children check to see whether the world had ended?

We changed our cell phone plans.

Correct that; we changed my cell phone plan.

‘Why is that a shock?’ you may ask. Fair enough question, considering that many people change not only their rate plans, but their phones, and their carriers on a frequent basis.

In our situation, the shock is multi-layered. Layer One: Mike and I have been with the same cell phone carrier for over a dozen years. Layer Two: we have only had ‘pay as you go’ pre-paid plans in all those years.

Our loyalty to our present company [T-Mobile] is a multi-layered one. Layer One: they have the best pre-paid plans. Layer Two: we can use our Blackberry phones.

‘Whoa!’ you may gasp. ‘You use Blackberries on a pre-paid plan? Why? How?’

Mike and I bought our Blackberries from eBay [I have a Curve and his is so old it doesn’t have a name, only a number] in order to synchronize our calendars, address book, and other data from Outlook on both our computers.

Since we work from home, we spend about 80% of the time here. We do make a lot of phone calls, but we have Vonage [unlimited local, long-distance, and international calls for $24] so we only use our cell phones when we are away from the house. We don’t even give out our cell phone numbers to friends. I would estimate that our phones are turned on less than 8 hours each week and we use less than $10 worth of cell phone minutes each month. Since T-Mobile doesn’t care what phone you use as long as it takes a SIM card, we chose Blackberries to synchronize our data.

Recently, however, we realized there were times when it would be nice to be able to access the Internet when we are away from home. I like the new app that allows you to scan a UPC code on an item and see where it is selling for the lowest amount. Mike would like to play PacMan online.

We began looking at rate plans. Imagine our shock to discover that many cell phone companies would charge us just for owning a Blackberry. When we looked at the different rate plans, I thought Mike would lose his lunch, and that was before taxes and sundry charges. The smallest totals made me wonder how people can have cell phone rate plans and eat at the same time. Of course, that might explain why some teenagers and college kids are so skinny; they’d rather talk than eat.

It was then that I discovered that T-Mobile had a new monthly rate plan. After much discussion, and checking our budget, we decided that I would upgrade to a monthly pre-paid plan that has 1500 minutes/texts and 30MB of data.

After changing my plan, I immediately texted the kids and told them the news. Their responses ranged from smiley faces with exclamation points to ‘Whoa! Mom!’ to phone calls asking whether we knew what we were getting into.

I honestly can say I don’t know. I can’t imagine using that 1500 minutes/texts in one month and I’m not sure how much data 30MB is, but I checked this morning and, in less than one week, I have used about 169KB. According to a metric conversion website, that comes to 0.1650390625MB. Is that too much? The little bar graph showing my data usage doesn’t have a smidgeon of color on the far end.

If it doesn’t work out, Mike has mentioned learning how to do smoke signals. But, apparently, he enjoyed shocking our children; the other day he decided to buy two pairs of athletic shoes at Wal-Mart.