Tamara's employer decided she needs a smart phone (or at least something better than the circa 2010 phone she's been using since, well, circa 2010), and authorized $X per month, first year paid in advance, for her to get cell and data service.
After some research, we decided that FreedomPop (yes, that's an affiliate link) made the most sense.
For less than the amount she received to cover the first year of service, she was able to get a pretty decent phone (a refurbished Samsung S5) and a year of one of their premium service tiers (unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1gb data). I expect that's going to be plenty of data for her needs, since she can just hook to wifi at home and work if necessary.
FreedomPop also has a free plan with 500 texts, 200 minutes of talk and 500mb of data. They sell phones for as little as $39.99, or for $1.99 you can get a FreedomPop SIM card and move any unlocked phone to their service. On top of the data that comes with whatever plan you choose, you can earn more by referring friends (there's that affiliate link) or completing offers.
So far, so good -- making and receiving calls and texts, downloading and installing apps over a wifi connection, etc. Tamara is traveling at the moment, so I haven't heard whether or not she's had occasion to really put cellular data to the test.
She wanted to keep the phone number she's had for more than 20 years. Instead of porting it from her previous carrier to FreedomPop, I am in the process of porting it to Google Voice. That way she never has to mess with porting it again. When she changes carriers or phones she can just change the forwarding.
Absent some horrifying as yet unseen development (I'll update this post in that case), I'm sold on FreedomPop. If I'm in a future position where a client isn't keeping me on their cell plan, that's where I'll plan on going. Maybe you should consider it too. One tip: Don't go for their cheapest phones. Old Android rigs are, so far as I can tell, slow and cranky.