The telephone is considered by most to be a necessity and, in our connected world, cell phones are a new necessity. However, a few simple choices can lower your monthly bills. It starts with deciding what, exactly, your own needs are. When you setup service with a telephone company, they will give you their “basic” unlimited plan for local calling. It is just like purchasing a plan with unlimited minutes. It could be more than you actually need. Ask your provider about their limited calling plans and emergency-only lines. You may be able to get away with having a landline for emergencies, security systems and occasional use for under $12/month.
If you primarily use a cell phone, perhaps you don’t even need a home phone at all. The percentage of homes with no land line phone has rapidly increased over the last several years. We actually got rid of our land line a few years ago, but I was hesitant to eliminate a home phone altogether. Our solution was to establish another cell phone line on our family plan. For a mere $9.99, we have a phone dedicated to the house that uses our existing minutes. If a single handset isn’t good enough for you, there are products available that allow you to use your cell phone throughout the house.
Using Bluetooth technology, you can link your cell phone to cordless telephones and even the existing landline wiring in your home. I have the Panasonic Link to Cell cordless phone. I can link my cell phone to the cordless base via Bluetooth, then use the cordless phone. It works well for keeping the home phone upstairs and downstairs, though it is only as good as the technology it uses. Bluetooth has its issues—dropped connections and weak signals can result. I have had my eye on a Bluetooth gateway that allows you to use the wiring in your house through a cell phone line—activating all telephone jacks even without a service provider. I have not had any experience with them yet, but have found the XLink at under $100 is the highest rated. I have also considered the Cell Fusion just because it costs so much less.
Another option for free home calling is using your computer and VoIP (voice over internet protocol) such as Skype or Magic Jack. Again, I have not personally used these for the purposes of calling other phones, but I can tell you the basics. With Skype, you download their program. We have used it for free video calls—the girls love to webcam with their grandparents. Their premium services allow you to dial other phones, as opposed to both parties connecting via computer, for as low as $2.95/month. Magic Jack provides a tool that connects a phone to your computer, allowing you to make phone calls. The equipment is around $40 (and includes a 30-day money back guarantee), with a $19.95/year service fee. It gets decent reviews on actual service, but users report their customer service is practically non-existent, should you ever encounter any problems.
As with any service, it pays to start your search for reduced expenses with your current provider. Let them know you are searching for alternatives and see what they have to offer. You may find that you are eligible for a better deal or that an organization you belong to has a discount option. As with electricity bills, being aware of consumption is the key to lowering your bills. Paying attention to your actual phone use will help you determine which plan or phone alternative may be right for you.
If you have any experience with the alternatives mentioned here, I’d love to hear about it! And, as always, please let us know if you have other ideas. We can work together to lower our budgets, not our standards.
More phone bill savings from around the network:
- Sneaky Phone Charges by Lisa at Savings with Sadie
- Magic Jack Review by Amee at Madame Deals
- Skype: Don’t You Just Love It? by Lisa at Savings with Sadie