Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Alternative phone plans

When it comes to savings, if I do not need something I don't buy it. If I do need something I try to find the best price out there. You'd be surprised at the things you can get for free. However the real savings come into play when you start to think about things you previously thought you needed. Take your phone landline for example. How much do you pay in your monthly phone bill? Imagine getting rid of that expense or significantly reducing it. All that money could go into your savings or towards paying down your debt.

It may very well be that you need that landline, but I'm here to tell you that you might not need to pay so much for it. Canceling your landline is a big step but consider the following alternative options:

1) Your cell pone. I do not have a landline. I do have a cell phone. When I tracked my phone usage I realized I was not using my phone all that much. I spend the bulk of the day at work and when I call family members after nine, cell phone minutes are free. For me it made more sense to just have my regular cell phone plan.

2)Skype provides you a "virtual" phone number which allows you to make phone calls and video conference from your computer. Calls from one skype pone number to another are free (a great option for people with relatives overseas). There are also several payment options that allow you to call other regular phone numbers. In pay-as-you-go you can call any U.S. phone number for 2.3 cents a minute. If you purchase a subscription you can choose from several options including unlimited calling for a low monthly rate. There is even a premium option that allows group video calling. If you are all ready paying for internet, Skype may provide you with a way to shave down your phone bill.

3) Magic Jack is a small device that you plug into your computer. You then plug a phone into the device and can make calls from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada, so long as you have internet service. You will need to pay an annual fee to the company and they will provide you with a phone number. In addition you can receive voice mail which will be sent to your email inbox.

4) Google can help you with your phone bill in several ways. If you have gmail (registering and using it is free) then you probably all ready know about gchat, Google's instant messaging system. If your computer has video capability you can video chat with other users for free. This is just like talking on the phone, but with visuals. You can always cover the camera and use the feature for voice communications only.

Google voice will provide you with a virtual phone number for free. You can plug your landline into your internet capable computer and receive phone calls for free. In addition you can set your google voice phone number to forward calls to your cell phone or any other phone if you want to receive them while you are out. You can have all of your phones or none of your phones ring when you receive a call. You can set ringing preference for specific callers. Phone calls within the U.S. and Canada are free. Long distance calls vary by country, but are generally very reasonable. Your voicemail can be forwarded to your email inbox or text message system if you want. It's easy to block unwated calls and there are lots of features packed into this service. It's probably BETTER than your current landline.

Finally if you refuse to let go of that landline, take a look at your bill. Many people sign up for package deals that include phone, internet, cable and other services. While these services can be a great deal they can also be a way for aggressive retailers to upsell you on features you do not use. Look at what features you actually use and compare them to the features you are paying for. It might be better to pay for each individually or work out a better, less inclusive, package.

I'm pretty happy with my cell phone and Google voice. I don't miss my landline at all. I certainly don't miss the phone bill.


Anonymous said...

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WE HAVE A CHOICE! Stop giving your money away to companies you hate. I really believe in Ciao, and don't you ultimately want your dollars going towards a company that you trust and love? They have a great deal going on right now; check them out: Ciaotelecom.com/cloudpbx/freemonth

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