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March 31, 2010

How to save $1440 a year on your phone bill

While I was in Texas (yeah yeah, I've been back in California for more than a week, but blog wise I'm still in the Lone Star state. I have one more thing to report from there before we move on).


While I was in Texas, I convinced my dad and stepmom to ditch their landlines. They had two landlines and two cell phones, and those bills were adding up.

Each was paying $60 per month. (This included the $30 monthly fee plus all sorts of taxes, local long distance charges, an international calling plan, call waiting and a few other services.)

I told them that landlines are totally 2004.

I told them landlines are superfluous and annoying.

We went over the bill and I didn't need to tell them how expensive it was.

They were about to agree. And then, they asked:

"What if a hurricane hits and we need to call 911?"

"Cell phone."

"What if someone is outside and our doorbell is broken and they need to call us to tell us they're outside?"

"Cell phone."

"What if someone wants to reach us but we're sleeping? We just turn the ringers off at night."

"Cell phone. With the ringer off."

"What if both of our cell phones are out of batteries and there's an emergency and the cell phone towers are jammed and someone outside is trying to reach us and we just want to call to say we love you?"

"You have a point."

I hooked up Dad with a Magic Jack, which is an internet phone. For around $40, you get a year of unlimited local and long distance calls. The downside: he had to give up his phone number. But he was fine with that, so in about 30 minutes he was good to go.

My stepmom wanted to keep her number, so I suggested she try an Ooma. This machine is expensive -- $200 -- but then, get this. For the rest of your life, you get free calls. Local and long distance. It costs extra to port your number. Even at $240, she's saving $480 in a year. And who knows how much, from then on.

Takeaway points:

1) Magic Jack is an internet based telephone that runs through your computer. Your computer has to be on for it to work. It costs $40 for the machine and a year of service. Then, $20 per year. Unlimited calls, local and long distance.

2) Ooma is a machine that's also internet based, but it doesn't need a computer to work. You must attach it to your cable modem and your phone, and that's it. The machine costs $250 online, but around $200 at Bestbuy. Then, no more phone bill. Ever.

3) Both work with regular telephone you already have.

I never endorse products on this blog. That's not what this site is about. But since we're all looking to save a buck these days, I thought I'd spread the word. I have no stake in either company.

Savings: $120 per month for a family with 2 landlines.

(This isn't an asking, but it's preparation for the next post. And I thought you might find it useful...)
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