Thursday, September 24, 2009

Saving Money on Your Phone Bill: Losing the Land Line

When the phone company nearly doubled our monthly bill for the same service about a month ago, we went looking for options.

A few weeks ago I asked about options, but we finally did it: we dropped our land line for cellular.

I was worried about a handful of things in making this decision:
1. I didn't like the idea of the kids using the cell phones to talk to family and friends.
2. I was worried about 911 from cellular service.
3. I didn't like the idea of the kids being home with a babysitter now or on their own in the future and there not being a phone at home.
4. I didn't want to have to change all of my contact information at the oodles of places where I have my home phone number listed.

I found a resolution for each that I was pleased with.

To me, there is still too much unknown on the impact of cell for me to be comfortable with my kids using the cell phones to talk to everyone. We did some research and a little bit of trial and error and found a system to allow us to use our home handsets to make and receive calls on our cell phone. We wound up going with the XLink and made our purchase about two weeks ago.

Simply pair your blue tooth cellphone to the XLink and plug your handset into the XLink. Then, you can use your regular handset to make and receive calls on your cell phone. A great way to take advantage of all of those Unlimited Night and Weekend minutes.

We had some concerns at first with how it would work, but as we have learned more - like keep the cell phone close to the XLink, not just in range - we found that the XLink works rather well. There is a slight delay between pick up and connection, but not more than a couple of seconds. There are even some advantages that we got with going to the XLink and cellular. We never had caller ID on our home phone, but now we are able to program our phone book into the phone and have caller ID on each of the handsets. We also didn't have call waiting on our home phone, but with the cell phone, we do have call waiting and with the addition of Caller ID, we now know whether to stay on the call we are on or switch over to the other one. This is pretty important to me since so many people that call us are long distance and the last thing I want to do is put them on hold to click over to a solicitation or other random call. You can even transfer the phone from the handset to the mobile if you need to head out. Overall, we have been pleased with the XLink.

We called and found out that 911 calls from cell phones route through the sheriff's office instead of our local police, but are then rerouted back to our local police. We weren't thrilled with this but were happy to know that the call would get to the right location. But, then I learned that the phone company maintains a "heartline" (or something like that) dial tone on the line once it is cancelled - let's you call them or 911. We plugged a corded set into one of our home phone jacks, so now we have a phone that can be used to call the local 911.

We ultimately decided to get a dedicated cell phone for our home and had our home phone number ported over. The process to port over a land line to a cell is a lot longer than I expected - they had said 24 - 72 hours, but it took most of a week (Sunday - Friday). Now that it is done though, we have a phone that stays in our house at all times, is answered by the regular answering machine and has our old home phone number on it.

Sure, there was an initial cost to purchase the XLink and because we wanted phones throughout the house, we also bought a new cordless phone system that allowed for multiple handsets to work with one base. We also added an additional cell phone to our cell phone plan, which will be a new monthly expense. Even so, our net monthly savings will be about $40 compared to the recently increased phone bill. We will pay for the XLink and the new cordless phones within the first couple of months and everything beyond will be pure savings.

Update: The group at XLink was kind enough to extend a $5 savings opportunity to my readers. To take advantage of this savings, head here and use coupon code 'busymom' at checkout.

This post linked up at Frugal Fridays and Super Savings Saturday.