Great Savings 31 – Talk $ense

 

Dialing on a land line.

How much are you spending for phone service every month? Are you getting your money’s worth?

When it comes to talking, texting, playing games or surfing the internet, we all like our phones. Whether they’re land lines or smart phones with all the latest applications, phones have a way of bringing us together or getting us out of a jam in an emergency. That makes them convenient, but is the convenience really worth the cost? If you have both a land line and mobile phone you can easily be spending $200 a month or more for phone service. That’s $2400 a year or $24,000 over the next 10 years—an incredible sum when you stop to consider it. If you’d like to start spending less, maybe it’s time to consider the options.

 

If you’re currently tied into a cell phone contract you already know the monthly pain associated with all that convenience it provides. However, you may not realize some people are paying far less than you are. How? For one, they aren’t buying as many “monthly minutes” up front. Two, they may have opted out of typical “smart phone” options in favor of basic cell coverage. Three, they may have a “no contract” voice data plan from their carrier. Four, they may have decided an Apple or Android phone just isn’t worth the monthly cost since they already have all that functionality on a laptop. So how can you spend less on your phone service? Start by considering these 4 steps:

 

Is all the convenience really worth it?

How do you use your phones? Do you only make calls? Mostly text? Surf the net?

(1) Before doing anything else analyze your current phone usage. Are you using your land line? On average, how many calls do you make on it each day? Do you have trouble hearing your cell phone? Are you on the phone all the time? Do you text? Do you see a need for texting? Does your mobile phone battery allow for sufficient talk time? Does everyone in the household already own a mobile phone? Asking basic questions like these can tell you if paying for both mobile and land line service is worthwhile. Land lines typically offer better sound quality as they operate within a larger range of frequencies than digital cell phones. That can make picking up the detail of a conversation easier. However if you really only use your land line once or twice a day, you might easily do away with it.

 

I like my new smart phone. It's got tons of features.

Prepaid plans vary substantially. Check around to make sure you’re getting the best deal for the way you use your phone.

(2) Think prepaid not contract. Even if you decide to keep your landline, you should carefully consider how you use your mobile phone. By all means, if you’re in a position to change or renew your service, consider skipping a new contract altogether. Phone companies have set up the system to make it look like contracting to buy more monthly minutes is your best and cheapest option. Unless you make a lot of calls or spends hours talking on the phone that may not be true. Most people don’t use up all the talk minutes they contract for. If that’s you consider some companies offer plans that require no contract and turn out to be cheaper from the get-go. For example, as we write this, Virgin Atlantic is offering a no contract plan with 300 anytime talk minutes and unlimited texting and data for $35 a month. Depending on the way you use your phone that could easily cut your monthly charges in half or more. Of course, plans and prices change all the time and if you don’t need data or text you may do even better by checking around. For a website that compares prepaid plans see PrepaidReviews.com.

 

You can save big with our Great Savings Tips.(3) Check into VOIP. VOIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol now comes in a variety of forms, but the basic idea is to use the internet to make phone calls. This can be free in some cases, but you will need to be hooked up to the internet. Thus, as you likely pay for internet service “free” comes with a price tag.

 

Companies such as Skype use VOIP technology without special equipment. Skype is a free downloadable application which enables callers to talk “face to face” with people around the globe. However, Skype can also be used for sharing data like pictures, music, and large text files. Skype applications are available for PC’s, laptops, pads and smart phones.

 

Companies such as Vonage provide VOIP service by charging a monthly rate for various plans. Vonage and many others require an adaptor which connects to your internet or phone. Once you plug it in and depending on your plan’s options calls can be made using a regular touch tone phone, your mobile or perhaps a household computer.

 

Caller’s using VOIP typically talk through their computer’s microphone and/or webcam, their mobile phone, a regular touch tone phone, or even a television.

 

As more options become available for VOIP, check the internet for customer complaints before signing up for a particular service. A couple other tips: Make sure your VOIP provider has a working customer service phone number in case you get stuck. Many don’t which can make getting help or getting your money back next to impossible. Also, avoid an extended prepaid option for VOIP service as this is still a high growth industry and many companies will no doubt go out of business. For more details on VOIP phone plans available for your area code see VOIPReview.Org.

 

Taking a call on the land line.

How often are you using that old land line? If it’s only a few calls per day it may not be worth the added expense.

(4) Get rid of your landline. Depending on your circumstances your land line could be costing more per month than your mobile phone. If you’re ready to get rid of it, decide: (1) Whether your internet connection requires a landline connection. If it does you’ll need to switch to cable or do something like get a wireless satellite modem that connects your laptop to the internet using a 3G or 4G satellite connection—that’s the same type of connection your smart phone uses to make calls. (2) You should also determine if your cell phone, cable, TV and/or internet service are already tied together or “bundled”. If they are bundled, you probably have a contract with the phone or cable company and that can mean paying a termination fee for opting out. If you’re uncertain about fees, you can call your provider to find out, but be prepared to say, “No, no, and no!” when they want to offer you some special deal to keep or upgrade your existing service.

 

 

A few important notes: Before you turn off a land line be sure to (1) Upgrade all your bank, investment, credit card and utility accounts with your mobile number. (2) Send a postcard and/or email everyone you know to tell them what’s up. (3) Let doctor’s offices, your dentist, your lawyer, accountant, and particularly your child’s school or daycare in on the change. (4) Make sure family members memorize your mobile phone number as it won’t be listed in any directory. This can be critical if they lose their phone and need to contact you. (5) Find out whether or how 911 calls may be affected if you dial from your Mobile or VOIP service. In some cases these calls are routed nationally instead of locally which can increase response time.

 

Action Item: Review your current phone plan and usage and decide if there is any room for improvement. Any monthly amount you can save is money you can apply to debt or sock away in savings. Don’t delay putting off a change just because you fear technology. Instead, ask a tech savvy friend or youngster for help.

 

Need to save money? Are you following along? Check out our complete list of Great Savings Tips by clicking here.

 

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