Monday, July 21, 2008

Phone, phone, go away...

I would just like to take this opportunity to say that people spend a ridiculous amount of money on phones! Personally, I hate talking on the phone. Don't get me wrong, the phone can be a very useful and wonderful thing. I'm glad that I have use of one, and one that works I might add. I lived in a 3rd world country where some of our friends didn't have a phone, and where there were certain parts of the city we could never connect with. It was most aggravating.

That said, I think cell phone and land line companies have us all brainwashed into thinking that we HAVE to have all these "cool" extra features on our phones. You know what? You really don't. One of the most clever tactics they have is saying that they have these great packages where if you buy "X" number of features you can save all kinds of money. You want to save money? Here are a few ideas:

Use a calling card

I have my brother and sister-in-law to thank for this one. Here's the disclaimer: I'm sure it varies somewhat from company to company so you'll have to check with your individual phone company. It is often far cheaper to use a calling card for your long distance than to go with a particular long distance carrier. When you set up your land line they probably asked you what long distance carrier/plan you wanted to go with. Whether you use the long distance on your land line or not, chances are there is a fee for the carrier/plan you chose. You need to specifically ask to have that long distance service removed (not to be confused with having long distance calls blocked for which there is a fee) and you could save some money. There are lots of places online where you can buy cheap long distance calling cards for as low as $.019 per minute.

Do you ever really answer call waiting?

Maybe there are people out there who do. I would venture to guess, however, that the only reason they do is so they can get the annoying beeping to stop. It's not because they WANT to talk to that telemarketer on the other line. Things like call waiting, caller ID, and the myriad of other features you can ad to your phone are all convenient, but cost money. If you want to save some money try taking all the extra features off your line.

Ditch the cell phone!

Again, let me just say that I don't like talking on the phone, so I really can't relate to these people I see chatting on their phone in the grocery store, while they're driving, or while jogging (I REALLY can't relate to those). I hear stories from parents saying they had a cell phone bill in the hundreds because their child did too much texting, or because of a cool ringtone they downloaded. That's insane! We're going to have a generation of kids who don't know how to speak English, or have any people skills! But I digress...

Up until earlier this year we did not have a cell phone. You would not believe the weird looks we got from people when we said we didn't have one. It was almost as good as the look I get when I tell people I use cloth diapers (a topic for another discussion). Cell phones have their place - they are very nice to have in the case of an emergency, and sometimes for business reasons. Most of the time, however, a cell phone is something that one can easily live without. And if you ditch the cell phone, think of the money you'll save every month! We finally had to give in and purchase a cell phone because my husband needed one at work. We went with a prepaid cell phone, which unless you live on your phone, can save you a lot of money.

Once again, it comes down to wants and needs. And it doesn't have to mean wanting to have a cell phone versus needing to feed your family. Sometimes it's just a matter of choosing between wanting to spend $50 a month on your cell phone and preferring to have an extra $50 a month to go towards something more important - like a future purchase that you'll be able to pay in cash instead of on credit.

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