Cell phone mania! We have quickly become addicted to the instant communication and can’t go anywhere without seeing people staring blankly down at their hands. Other than the few obvious benefits of having a cell phone, there are several downsides that I’d like to share with you. Take a moment to check out the downsides and then I’ll provide some very inexpensive alternatives for those of you who want to save $2000 – $3000 a year by using the technology in your favor.
- Mobile communication companies have been merging and that is a bad thing for the consumer. You have fewer choices and therefore you will always pay more with fewer choices.
- The legal biggest scam going is right in front of us. That exciting new phone with all those features and claiming to have 4G. BS, it’s only occasional 4G and who really even notices? The downside is the contract you must agree to and sign that no one will ever read. That contract locks you in to a minimum of two years and states in very fine print that “any” change you make to your plan will automatically renew your agreement. Even if you buy your phone and don’t have a contract, they get you when you make a change. That’s right! So if you have your phone for 18 months and then you call to make a slight adjustment to your plan, (yes this even includes adding or subtracting a line, your new plan will automatically become 24 more months). So if you move and need to cancel to go to another provider, you are stuck paying the early termination fee. Some providers used to pro rate your account so you don’t have to pay the full $200 early termination fee, but fewer are doing it these days.
- Adding a feature, changing a feature, increasing or decreasing your minutes is also considered a “change” to your account so your term will go back to two more years.
- Changing carriers and getting a new phone number can be a hassle when you need to inform all your contacts of the change.
- Don’t get sucked into the nonsense. You don’t have to pay all that money to have connectivity and technology. There are many ways to use technology to your advantage without spending a fortune.
I have been using Google Voice since its beta launch in 2008 with great results. Google Voice is one of hundreds of free services available through Google. Once set up, you can use this phone number to provide to all your contacts as the lkast number you will ever have. GVoice can be forwarded to your cell phone if you choose to keep a cell phone. You may also use it for your financial obligations like mortgage, auto loans, credit card and utility companies. When this Google phone number is called you can set preferences in your Google account (everything is linked through your Gmail account) to forward to your cell, or Skype number, or go to voicemail and take a message. Google will transcribe the message and send you a Gmail as well as a text message if you choose. This way you never miss an important message. It puts the power back in your hands. There are dozens of other features like free web calling and texting from your PC that would take too much time to outline here. Additionally, with a Google Voice phone number, you have the power to BLOCK callers if you don’t want to hear from them.
BLOCKING: Why is blocking so important? Few people realize how your phone numbers are used and shared by so many companies. Enter your number on one application, and the flood gates open. Google Voice lets you block those unsolicited callers forever! When it comes to short selling your home, this is huge. You can avoid all those pesky collections calls while you’re in the process of selling your home. No more rude and intimidating calls from collections departments. Just BLOCK them. They will hear a message that this number is no longer in service. Now that’s cool!
Step 1: You will need a Gmail account. Most people already use Gmail – if you don’t you should switch from Yahoo which is my least favorite webmail.
Step 2: Once your Gmail account is set up, you need to login. In the top right corner click on Settings.
Step 3: When setting page loads, click on Accounts & Import tab in the top tab area.
Step 4: Scroll to bottom and click Google Account Settings.
Step 5: This will open a new page with all your Google settings and available products. Scroll down and click on Voice link. If you do not see a Voice link, click the small “more” link to show all the options from Google.
Step 6: Voice will open or you will need to scroll down on this icon page to find the Voice icon on bottom right to click it.
Step 7: Follow the Google Voice instructions to set up your Google Voice phone number – this could be the last phone number you ever have or will ever need. Choose your Google voice area code and number and then it will ask you to enter a land line or cell number to receive a call verifying your set up is complete.
Skype is another free service that offers some nice features and benefits. The online version of Skype is completely free and you can communicate from your tablet or PC for free to anyone with a Skype account. The free Skype account communicates via the web so you must have internet access. Skype also has low cost subscription plans that are far cheaper than any cell phone or land line. I have a subscription to Skype with my own Skype phone number and the cost is only $8.40 per quarter. I can place and receive calls to anyone in the US for free for a total of $36 per year. This feature also includes voicemail online chat and notifications. Anyone with a business should consider the savings with Skype versus a business phone.
I use my Skype with my Nexus Google Tablet like a phone over WiFi networks and it works great!
Apple has been hyped as the biggest & best due to their success of the iPhones, but to me, they’re number one success is the iTouch. The iPod “iTouch” (4th Generation) is the best low cost full-featured hand held WiFi cell phone going. It links through your iTunes account so all your music and apps are on one small device. The iTouch is basically a iPhone without the $100+ per month network connection. I use my iTouch as an iPhone wherever there is a WiFi connection. At home I have WiFi, at Starbucks and almost any other business like a mall, target, library or café. As long as you have a WiFi connection the iTouch is an iPhone. Some say this is a downside because you can’t get calls while you’re driving since you have no WiFi on the road. I consider that a benefit. You can download numerous free apps like TextNow for unlimited texting for free, or even Skype for live calls. The upgraded TextNow app gives you a phone number and voicemail so you can send and receive calls from the iTouch to any phone number in the US. If you want a subscription, you can buy minutes for a very low fee. 100 minutes of TextNow talk time only costs $4.99. Use the time as you need it and save money. With the iTouch, you can iMessage to anyone with an Apple device for free. Face Time, is Apples proprietary application that enables you to do video conferencing with anyone who has another Apple device. So the iTouch communicates with any Apple device seamlessly, and the Skype or TextNow app can get you linked to anyone with any other phone.
In conclusion, why on earth would anyone pay $100 – $250 per month, when you have all these free apps available to you? We just cancelled our T-Mobile service and will be using these other tools to communicate from now on. Our family cell phone bill was $214 per month. I like the $2500 extra dollars in our account each year and no risk of getting killed from driving distractions!