Some of you might understand the irony of this post, but I am going to post it anyway. The home phone is starting to become an archaic system that only telemarketers contact me on. I am glued to my Blackberry and have had the same phone number for the last 10 years, and because I travel and commute so much, my Blackberry is my lifeline to my everyday life. And even though I have a home phone, no one calls me on it. EVER. I think that might be a result of no one having my home phone number. The odd thing is that we all feel like we need a home phone, meanwhile everyone communicates on our cell phones. I take all of this a step further and have moved into texts, and emails. Sidenote: We really don’t need to have a 30 minute conversation when 1 text message would suffice. Besides being useless in today’s day and age, home phone providers charge fees that not even the phone company can understand. We all complain about those surprises we get on our phone bills. Television sitcoms can spin entire episodes on the topic. But, surprise phone bills are no laughing matter.
When you set a budgeted amount for phone service, items like going over minutes, long distance fees, texting, mobile internet usage, and information calls can leave you frustrated. This is not a good thing by any means. If it has gotten downright scary to open that phone bill, it’s time to take control. Let’s take a hard look at a few places to cut back:
1. Do you really need a home phone? This is the most obvious cut to consider. Does anyone even call it, other than telemarketers? It’s probably time to cut the cord. Be sure first that your land-line connection is not bundled with another utility, like cable, before you get rid of it. Compare the savings before you decide, then if it makes sense, let go of that home phone.
2. Ring tones and apps that charge a monthly fee are for the birds. If it was a one-time charge, then fine, just don’t buy any more. A new ring tone for every family member, a few fun apps, and a fresh wallpaper or two can add up fast. Use the built-in ring tones. You already paid for them when you bought your phone and your plan.
3. Review your minutes routinely. Are you going over your allotted plan minutes every month and getting dinged with extra fees for it? Or, do you not even come close to using the plan max? Find out if there is a better plan for you and your family and make the change. I can’t stress this enough. No ONE needs an unlimited plan. You are not that popular. There is no reason for you to pay $40-$50 extra for the privilege of that.
4. Block information calls to eliminate this useless fee. It really is unnecessary and, more than likely, can wait until you get home. You can Google practically any phone number you need for free. This goes for any type of ‘operator assisted’ calls. That is so 20th Century, really. You can find out anything you need to know free of charge. I don’t think I have called the operator in 5 years, or looked in the phone book to be honest. God invented Google for this.
5. Long distance charges are old school. If your carrier still charges long distance, ditch them now. There are many alternatives available for very cheap long distance calls, even overseas calls. Calling plans are quickly getting on board with the flat fee rates, so compare and save. Calling cards, third party LD companies, Skype numbers are way to go. Also, most wireless companies provide discount packages for long distance as well. Take a few minutes and check out your provider’s website.
6. Use the web to phone home. One popular choice is a web-based call through Skype. Skype-to-Skype calls are free so have everyone you call sign up and you’re good to go. And, don’t let it scare you. You don’t have to put on makeup and do your hair for Skype. You can turn off the video feature and just use the audio feature either with your built-in microphone in your computer or with a simple headphone. There are a few neat options on the market. Rogers One Number for example is worth exploring for those who live in Canada.
7. Cancel the broadband. There. I said it. It’s out in the open. It may hurt but if you are really intent on trimming your expenses, you need to cut out broadband. You can live without checking your email or Facebook status every 30 seconds. You did it before; you can do it again. This is suggestion, I know it will be very difficult for most of us to do so.
When cutting costs in your or your family’s budget, it’s hard to give up the things we’ve become accustomed to having. With many phone plans, however, there is a lot of fluff that could be trimmed without a bit of pain. Get your family on board with your plan and go ahead and streamline you phone service. Think about it. Most cell phone plans offer unlimited evening and weekends; times when most of the family is home. Why would have 2 numbers for someone to reach when one is more convenient.
And finally check your bill EVERY month and call to check for different packages and plans at least once every 6-8 months. Promotions change with every season and there might be something new that could save you money.
Have you thought about cutting your home phone?