7 Phone Extras That You Need to Stop Paying

by Marissa on April 3, 2012 · 30 comments

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?

  • http://www.brokeprofessionals.com Broke Professionals

    I cancelled our home phone a year ago this month. The only people calling me on it were telemarketers, my alma mater (asking for money) and my mother-in-law. I don’t miss any of the above (well, don’t tell my husband that…)…

    • Marissa

      haha! Those are the only people who call me, too.

  • http://add-vodka.com Daisy @ Add Vodka

    I have never had a home phone and I use Worldline for long distance .My dad has found an awesome system by using wordline and only keeping his phone bill to $25/month, but, of course he doesn’t text or anything like that.

    • Marissa

      I don’t think I can survive without email on my phone.

  • http://www.newlywedsonabudget.com/ Newlyweds on a Budget

    this is ironic because we JUST got a home phone on Saturday. I know, i know, i know!! but hear me out–i was totally like “we’re never getting a home phone EVER!” but ever since we moved, we get horrible reception in our new place and calls cut out all the time. I would have put up with it, but my husband recently got injured and his cell doesn’t even ring in the house. So we sucked it up and got a home phone. It’s only $20 a month though, thank goodness.

    • http://yourlifeforless.com yourlifeforless

      You should check out Ooma. It’s a device that hooks into your home internet connection. Once you buy the device, you get free phone service for the life of the company.

    • HB

      I’ve got AT&T and my home reception is one notch ..if I’m lucky.
      So I complained to At&T and told them about this. They suggested to get their MICRO-Cell. I never heard about such a device. She suggested a refurbished unit (which was awash with the credit they gave me back). It connects to a router like all other gizmos. Now I have a strong signal throughout the house and there are no monthly charges. These devices are sold on ebay too.

  • http://www.modestmoney.com/ Modest Money

    I have a home phone line, but no phone plugged in lol. The only reason I got it is because our cable & internet are much cheaper when bundled all together with the phone. I just have to remember to cancel the phone service when the promotion expires. I do keep costs way down on my cell phone. I don’t even have a smart phone. So I’m not tempted by the data packages and all that fanciness. I just realized the other day that I don’t even have any full games on there…just some basic demos that came pre-installed.

  • http://www.thefrugaltoad.com Paul @ The Frugal Toad

    I do most of my blogging from home so there is no way I would cut the broadband. We did however cut the landline a couple of years ago. One way to save on bandwidth with your cell carrier is to use free wifi whenever you can, that includes at home!

  • http://www.themoneyprinciple.co.uk John@MoneyPrinciple

    I would hate to depend only on my mobile, excellent though it is. We need a lot of broadband as we both work at home (and have others) so the 100GB allowance would cost a fortune if we got that via a mobile. So we have two land lines (about £30 for both a month) two mobile smartphones (about £70 a month for both) and rock solid business internet (another £30 a month) on top of this! I did look at having domestic internet but there is often contention on those services in the evening when people start gaming and streaming. We never use our minutes or text allowance up although we came close with the bandwidth once.

  • http://onecentatatime.com/ SB @ One Cent At A Time

    Many of my friends pay a lot of extra buck on their phone bills. They text without a tetx plan. They download ring tones. Good list of tips.

  • http://www.stepawayfromthemall.com Nick

    Watch out – #7 could get you killed, haha! I’m 6 for 7 on these… guess which one I’m paying still…

    I’m with you though – If stuff hits the fan, broadband is an unnecessary luxury and “gotsta go” :)

  • http://www.jaicatalano.com/blog.html Jai Catalano

    I have boost mobile and don’t ever worry about extra fees. I never do ringtones or apps. I can’t commit to anything so that’s easy.

  • http://blog.impulsesave.com ImpulseSave

    I just love your sense of humor! And these are some excellent tips as well :) My parents still have a home phone, but that’s really because there are still kids at the house without cell phones, and my dad doesn’t have a cell phone. It’s the easiest way for a lot of people to get in touch with them. As for my cell phone, I have the smallest plan possible and enver even get close to meeting my minutes limit each month! I am thinking of upgrading to a smart phone soon and was wondering if you have any advice for how much data you use. Any tips?

  • Tips4savingmoney

    I liked the ideas in this articles. I also wrote an article similar on this http://tips4savingmoney.com/2011/07/18/why-take-a-mobile-contract-when-you-can-take-sim-only-contract/
    In this article I talked about ways of saving money on mobile by getting a sim-only contract instead of a mobile contract.

  • http://www.earthandmoney.ca Earth and Money

    I took the plunge and cut the home phone about a year ago. Never looked back, though I am almost now too dependent on my cell phone I will admit. I also took the plunge and cut broadband – I tether my cell phone to my computer and use the data plan as my internet connection. Its worked out pretty well so far, the speed drop is barely noticeable!

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  • George

    You’re kidding with #7, right? But here’s another suggestion for those who just don’t want to give up on a landline (maybe you’re like me and just hate the thought of holding a source of RF radiation up against your head for several minutes at a time). A company called Obihai Technologies makes a couple of devices, the OBi100 and the Obi110, and you can get these on Amazon or Newegg (not 100% sure about Newegg, but think I saw them there). What they do is for under $50 they let you use a regular telephone to make and receive calls via Google Voice. All outgoing calls to the United States and Canada are free, and all incoming calls to your Google Voice number are free. The only downside is that Google Voice does not provide any way to access 911 so if you don’t have any other way to call 911 you may need to subscribe to a separate service to get that – an OBihai device will give you access to two services simultaneously, either or both of which can be Google Voice accounts or other VoIP services (I have read that you can get 911 service from a company called Anveo for 80 cents a month, but don’t hold me to that).

    If you by an OBi110 you can also connect it to a landline (or your cable company’s equivalent that you get as part of that expensive bundle they’ll happily sell you) and then it will let you access the landline for 911 and (optionally) local calls, while still using Google Voice (and/or a commercial VoIP service) for your other U.S.A./Canada calls. Note that you can only sign up for Google Voice service from a computer that is in the U.S. (or appears to be) but if you have a friend or relative in the U.S. they can create the account for you. Anyway, this is a particularly great solution for older people, because as long as they have broadband internet service you can connect their existing touch-tone phone(s) up to an Obihai device and for a one-time charge that’s less than two months of landline service in most areas, they get unlimited calls at least until the end of 2012, and possibly beyond if Google extends it for another year (as they have done for the past two years).

    Granted you have to be a little technically proficient to hook up one of these devices but if you can connect a computer to your home router you can probably hook one of these up with no problems.

    The only other one of your hints that I disagree with is #3. People buy unlimited plans for the same reason they buy insurance – it’s a safety net in case the unexpected happens and they are forced to make a lot of calls, or the local radio station accidentally gives out your number as a contest line, or something like that. Besides, the phone companies would love nothing better than to get all of us paying by the minute for all calls – if that ever happens you will quickly see calls go back up to five, ten, or twenty cents a minute as they were in the bad old days of Ma Bell!

  • Eric

    I would say keep the broadband, but make it work harder by pairing it with a nice streaming video and VoIP service. I was able to side-grade my service from TW RR to EarthLink and save over $20 a month and it’s even the same modem. My cell phones all went prepay years ago. Sure I’ll never be able to afford the latest and greatest apple phone, but I did pick up a gently used iPhone 4 and put it on go phone which is costing me a whopping ~$12/month for service.

    • Marissa

      Interesting. That’s a great price point.

  • David T,

    Why not keep the broadband and go back to a dumbphone. Smartphone data pricing is stupid.

    • Marissa

      Yeah, but I use it way more on my phone when I’m out and about.

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  • WJ

    We decided to keep the landline because being 80 years, our friends don’t always have computers and we aren’t technically able to use the suggestions by George. But what a great article!! I’ll forward to Sam (SO).

  • Rhonda

    I guess your forgetting about we seniors who do not have cell phones, Blackberry’s, IPods what ever! We have a land line phone and I would never consider getting rid of it to replace it with a cell phone. I don’t ever intend to own a cell phone unless I’m forced into it my progress and they do away with landlines completely. I have a different provider for my long distance, only costs me .05c a minute and I email or use Google call phone which is free for calls in Canada and US.

  • Edgar

    One aspect of not having a home phone line concerns the operation of 911.
    If you have an emergency at home and try to call 911 on a cell phone, it is not certain that that the fire, police, or ambulance will know where you are.
    The 911 service on a home phone provides street address immediately.
    Just something to consider.

  • Rachel

    Fantastic article. I love your whole site actually. This is so smart and a lot of it makes sense. got rid of my landline a month ago and havent missed it at all! Personally I went even farther and learned that by seeing how much I texted and how many minutes I used that switching to a non contract phone ( or prepaid) like a Tracfone would save me 45 dollars a month. And they have been SO accomadating. I just had to pick a phone, activate it, add airtime and then figure out all the ins and outs that I wanted. Like I still needed a smart phone because I love the internet and they had that. I HIGHLY HIGHLY reccomend checking out their site because I used to be so against prepaid but it seems to be doing wonders for me. Also I dont know about the other prepaid companies so I unfortunetly cannot comment on those.

    • Marissa

      I have to look into TRACFONE.

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