[This is post #1 in a 3-part series on how to save money with your cable, phone, and internet bills. And also how to FAIL at it the same time.]
This post is going to be bitter sweet. On one hand I found a KILLER way to save some dough on our home phone line and am super excited about it (it’s basically FREE now for us!!), but on the other hand I might have just screwed myself and potentially paying more.
(Wait, didn’t he just say this trick SAVES you tons of money? How could you pay more when you’re actually saving? Ugh… read on…)
The Challenge Everything mission continues…
For those who have been following along, you know I’m on a crazy mission where I’m challenging ALL my bills no matter big and small or how much I love the service I’m using or not. I’ve cut our car insurance bill down by $30 a month so far with this strategy, and I even dropped our iPhones forever and switched to Republic Wireless to save a cool $100 every month too. I didn’t think I had the balls to try it, but here we are a month in without the iPhones and so far I haven’t died yet ;) Though, I must admit I’m still in Android culture shock…
The next item on this challenge list was to cut down our cable/phone/internet bill. Only instead of calling them like a normal person first, I thought I’d game the system and try and figure out ways to save BEFORE I made that dreaded call so I knew what to ask for to further impact the savings. Plus, I can think of 1,008 more things I’d rather do than call our cable provider (Verizon) anyways. Like, say, poke my eyes out with hot skewers or jumping into a large lake full of piranhas. Naked.
So I sat down with the wife and we chatted about what we absolutely needed to keep, and what we wouldn’t mind getting rid of. And that list looked like this:
- We need internet or J$ doesn’t have a job
needlike TV because it’s fun entertainment and we’re not hardcore enough to drop it (yet)
- And we’d also like to keep our home phone for emergencies and convenience (and for our boys to use it to talk to grandma/grandpa instead of our phones which they’d prob break! Haha…). But not for $30+/mo anymore like idiots. (It’s amazing how fast your mentality changes when you stop to look at what you’re actually paying for stuff. Especially with bills you’ve kept the same for literally 5 or 10 or even 15 years! Just because it made sense then doesn’t mean it still does now!)
Basically we wanted everything we already had, but for much cheaper ;) And perhaps not as many TV channels cuz honestly how many of them do you actually watch anyways? (Like 1/20th)
So the genius I was thought:
“Hey! If I can figure out a way to get our home phone cheaper, then we can just call Verizon up an cancel it and save $30 off the bat! And then drop some TV channels and save even more! Easy peasy!”
So off I went scouring the internets looking for ways to grab less-than-$30/mo home phone service, and I stumbled across SLEW of options I had heard about but never before considered. There was MagicJack, Vonage, Skype, and what would soon become my new favorite, Ooma. All of which I believe uses the internet to power your line, thereby being able to drop the costs significantly. With MagicJack having the worst reviews I have ever seen EVER online btw, wow…
Here’s a pretty kick-ass comparison of them all if interested: Which is best?
This “internet trick” is called VoIP (Voice Over IP, or “Internet Protocol”) and is the same way Republic Wireless is able to offer such insanely low cell phone plans too – apparently it’s what all the cool kids are dong these days ;)
My Land Line Replacement Choice: Ooma Telo
After reading all the reviews and itching to test out the best one, I ran with Ooma because it turns out most of my blogging buddies who still have land lines happen to use them too. And if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me! Plus, they were ranked #1 for VoIP by PC Magazine, as well as a #1 best seller on Amazon too. And all their reviews were decent-to-amazing, and miles beyond that of MagicJack (Vonage’s was good too, but they charge a monthly fee which Ooma doesn’t, so….).
I reached out to Ooma to get a review box to test out and keep (the power of being a blogger, eh?) and a few weeks later I was up and running and using Ooma as my new – cheap as HELL – land line. The dial tone sounds a bit strange (it’s like a jingle every time you turn on the phone, haha…), but other than that I honestly can’t tell a difference and have no complaints whatsoever.
The best part? It literally costs $3.00* a month!! That’s a 90% savings if you’re coming from a cable/internet/phone provider that charges $30 like ours. And the only reason you have to pay the $3.00 is ‘cuz of taxes – like to cover 911 calls/etc. Ooma’s service is actually free – all you have to do is snatch up their “Telo” box which currently costs $129.99 on Amazon. A steep amount at first glance, but when you consider it would be paid off in 4-5 months and then you get almost FREE monthly service forever, it paints a different story ;) And if you’re lucky to buy it when they’re offering one of their $30 off rebates, you can even scratch off another month.
[*Taxes are different in each state so the # can be a little lower or higher depending on where you live]
And it’s so easy to use a caveman can do it:
I think it took me approximately 7 minutes to read/attach/and then move on with my life ;)
That’s the GOOD part to this story. Ooma can save you $27+ every month!
The bad part? Apparently you cant just “cut out” services from your cable provider like I thought you could :( I mean, you CAN, but if you have a bundle with them, you’d actually pay MORE every month because they discount all the services you use when you have a lot of them, so when you drop one from the package, the others (in this case, internet and tv) go UP! And to the point of it making your bill even *higher* than had you just stayed put with your home line.
That means that EVEN if you found a killer new service to use like Ooma, you just can’t cut the cord w/ your cable provider. A minor detail that would have been helpful HAD I JUST CALLED THEM FIRST. I guess they’re well aware of us cost cutting hackers…
So what’s the next move?
Well, for starters I’m keeping my Ooma. I love how easy and seamless it is just like our old phone line (you can still use your *same* phones btw too – the only difference is a box is now involved instead of a telephone chord), and at $3/mo it’s a freakin’ steal. And since we DO plan on leaving our nasty “cable bundle” at some point in the future, it’ll be 1/3 less stuff to figure out when we finally pull the trigger. Though, technically, yes – we’re now paying for two phone lines instead of one, ugh.
But of course I didn’t just leave it at that ;)
I DID end up calling Verizon and getting my bill worked on AND lowered (it was pretty fun to call them ON the Ooma phone, haha…), but I’m going to save that for part #3 of this mini-series. I still have to tell you all about how I tried to hack our TV portion too and how I also figured out something awesome there, while at the same time FAILING once again… It seems I’m on a roll over here ;)
Stay tuned for our next post! If you haven’t seen any of the previous “Challenge Everything” articles yet, you can check them out here:
- Why I’m Challenging Everything
- How I switched cell phone carriers and now save $100/mo
- How I cut our car insurance bill by $30/mo
- How I cut fees by moving all my investments into Vanguard (I did this before the challenge officially started, but my brain was already working hard and this helped propel me into other areas to start tackling – like the rest of my financial life!)
UPDATE: I’ve been getting some emails and comments about how we don’t “need” a home phone and how it’s crazy to keep one, yada yada yada, so wanted to address it real quick and mention a few other reasons we’re keeping it around.
I agree completely – at this point in technology having a home phone is definitely a “want” vs a “need” – which is why I never called it that above ;) We consciously choose to keep a home phone around out of convenience and emergencies and other reasons such as:
- Having a back up for when our cells die (I’m always forgetting to charge mine!)
- A more comfortable experience talking vs on a cell phone which yes, we’re all used to, but still not as good as a regular ol’ cordless (at least in my opinion)
- Our kids like to call grandma and grandpa and no way we’re giving them our cell phones for that!
So, yes – we could live without a home phone. But we choose not to. Just like some of you choose to spend money on perms or nails or your cabbage patch collection I could care less about. This is the beauty of “personal” finance – it’s personal ;)
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