Nov 27 2007

Cell phones & landlines


Do you have both a cell phone and a landline? If so, why?

Many people have cell phones and no landline. It took me a few years to get on the bandwagon–I got my first cell phone after I started college. After that contract expired, I got a pre-paid cell, since I lived in an apartment with a built-in landline (it was included with the rent) and I barely used my mobile phone.

Next, I got the phone and plan I’m using now: A regular cell phone with a two-year contract, set to expire in the summer of 2008. I got 12% off per month for being affiliated with a university, but with tax, it’s still $40/month for the smallest plan. Oy.

Originally, I got it because I needed it for work. I needed to be reachable no matter where I was or when the phone call was coming in. My employer couldn’t reimburse me–it was a student newspaper, after all.

I still have that phone plan.

I barely use my phone these days. I don’t do text messaging or use it for accessing the internet. I regularly talk to my parents using it, and occasionally talk to a friend here or there.  I don’t want to get a landline–I’d rather have a phone that I can take with me. Plus, the extra expense of having two phone lines isn’t worth it to me.

I’m still researching what to do when my plan expires. I might switch back to a pre-paid cell phone again, and add an internet plan such as Skype or Yahoo Voice.

If you’re going over your cell phone minutes each month (and have to pay outrageous overage fees) by all means, increase your minutes! It makes much more sense to pay an extra $10-20 per month to add minutes to your plan, instead of paying hundreds in overage fees.

Some people need a landline so they can access their internet, for example they can only have dial-up (sorry if that’s you!) or DSL.

For people who absolutely need a landline, one way to save money with it is to eliminate all extras on the line. Do you need call waiting or voicemail on it? Not really, especially if you have cell phones. People can just call you on that, right?

Do you have a long-distance plan on your landline? Why? Can’t you use your cell phone for that?

If you don’t have great cellular reception at home but still want to make long-distance calls, you still have options.

Coming up:  Info on Skype and Yahoo Voice

Your turn: What’s your phone situation?

Posted under Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

17 Responses to “Cell phones & landlines”

  1. Currently my husband and I just have cell phones. We have a partner plan that runs about $100 a month for 1500 shared minutes. He has to have a phone for work and is reimbursed $75 a month .. so we pay about $25 including fees and taxes. We’ve used cell phones exclusively since we moved in together almost 7 years ago (yikes!) even when we lived where cable internet wasn’t available we’d use the landline just for the modem and paid the absolute minimum from the phone company. Now that we’ve moved into the wilderness and cell service isn’t that great I’ve been debating on doing a cable phone or skype or something but haven’t had (or made) the time to look into it further.

    For now I’ll just leave my phone in the one place where it gets decent reception and turn on the bluetooth!

  2. We’ve run the numbers, and here it is: We do have 2 cell phones and a land line.
    – We have a landline for dial-up internet. We pay under $15 a month for the most basic local phone service + $4 for dial-up internet. Dial-up, for now, is an experiment, to see if we can stand it. We’re saving $25-$30 or more a month over DSL (and even more over cable+internet, since we don’t have cable), so, for as long as we can put up with it, we’re saving money.

    – I want to be able to reach my husband at work. He is not next to a desk phone all day, so he has a cell phone. His boss also calls him on the cell phone, and it still has the area code for where his extended family lives, so they can call without calling long-distance (Another reason to have a landline: so my husband has a local number to give out). The cell plan provides us the ability to call long distance as well.

    – I have a cell phone because I had one once-upon-a-time, and the contract hasn’t run out yet. We ran the numbers and found taht it was cheaper to ride out the contract than pay the disconnect fee. We’re going to re-evaluate my cell phone when the contract is up, because I’m near a land-line phone all day, unless I’m on the road- and a pre-paid cell would do just fine for emergencies.

  3. For the past 5 years my husband and I have only had our cell phones. We tried the family share plan for awhile, but I always used too many minutes, then we’d go over. So we switched to individual plans, which was great while I was working.
    Once I started staying home with my daughter and was in need of adult conversation I started going over my minutes again. So i switched to having more minutes a month (900 to be exact- for just ME). We were paying about $130 a month for our two phones and I was still going over my minutes (sad, I know).
    We realized we could switch our cell phone plan to the smallest family share plan there was, and get a landline with unlimited long distance and pay the same amount a month.
    So right now we have 2 cell phones and a landline, we pay about $135 a month but we avoid all overage fees due to me talking to much.
    I am considering getting rid of my cell phone all together and getting a prepay one, but I enjoy talking to my family members and friends who have verizon without running up our minutes.
    I know $135 is a lot to spend on communication, but I don’t get out much (we have one car) and I stay at home with a 16 month old all day. You’d be surprised how bad you miss adult conversation after a week or two.

  4. Before we were married my husband to be and I got cell phones (both on my account) so that we could talk anytime we wanted for as long as we wanted (the whole 6 months of our courtship was long distance ~ he on the east coast and I on the west). That worked really well for us!

    After we were married we stuck with it because, basicially, we were stuck with the contract. We chose not to get a land line because our cell phones could be used for everything. The problem was that our reception was awful, and we often got no signal at home at all!

    Finally, 6 months into our marriage we contacted Verizon to let them know our problem. They sent someone out to check things, discovered that indeed we had no signal (the curse and benefit of living in a little canyon). What a blessing to be let out of that contract free of charge more than a year early.

    We were then able to get cable and Vonage phone service for more than $30 less than we had been paying for the cell phone plan! We still get unlimited calling anywhere (in the US, Canada, and Mexico) anytime! And we found that we didn’t miss the cell phones much.

    Now, 2 years later, we do have cell phones again, but only because someone else pays for them!

  5. My husband and I both have cell phones and share 500 minutes a month. It costs us $65/ month. We have had this for about 4 months now. We use to have a landline and a pay as you go cell phone for me when I was on the road with the children. That costs us about $45/month. Even though we’re out an extra $20 a month, it is so worth it for my dh to have a cell phone. It has been such a blessing.


  6. I wish I had a landline, because I don’t have a local number here, and people get confused because the entire state has the same area code, and ours are different. But most importantly, my cell phone (Verizon) basically doesn’t get service in our apartment (but it does everywhere else). My boyfriend’s does get service (AT&T), so I have to use his a lot. So a landline would be very helpful for us. Just a basic line with no long-distance or special features would be cheap and worth it to me.

  7. My husband and I share 1400 minutes per month for around $100. This includes unlimited nights and weekends, no roaming charges, and free mobile to mobile. We no longer have a landline phone because we got high speed internet recently and it just didn’t make sense to pay both bills. It’s nice that we aren’t really having to pay a lot more money than we were before (internet $25 and phone $30) and we’ve got a super fast internet connection now.

  8. We get good service in our apartment, so we kept our cells. It normally works fine, sometimes I wish I had a landline. Maybe if I’m rich someday. ;)

  9. We’ve done a lot of number crunching about phones! Here’s what we have now:
    – One cell phone for me
    – Cable internet
    – My husband has a PDA-type phone that allows him unlimited text messaging, email, and internet, but the minutes are pay-per-minute

    We tried the whole no-cell-phone-only-landline thing. We tried using Skype. I don’t recommend using Skype for calling phone numbers. Our experience was that the quality was so bad that people would say “Sorry I just can’t hear you” and hang up. If you’re wanting VoIP service, I HIGHLY recommend Jajah.

    The biggest thing I noticed about the whole not having a cell phone was that people expected me to have one. I was visiting some friends in Indiana, and trying to meet one of them for lunch. I kept asking her to give me the address of the place where I was to meet her, and she kept saying “Oh just call me when you’re close and I’ll give you directions.” I had a really hard time! Also, if you travel a lot, it can be difficult to coordinate while you’re on the road, especially as pay phones are fewer and farther between. I met a friend for lunch once, only to arrive and find the restaurant didn’t exist. Not having a cell phone became a huge inconvenience.

    So, we decided to go cell-phone only and I’m pretty content. I got text messaging as part of my plan so I can communicate with my husband (since his phone is pay-per-minute with free text messaging). I use it SO much.

    Every person’s situation is different. For us, having dial-up internet is not an option, since I work out of my house. Having limited long-distance calling is not an option, because most of the numbers we call are not local. It was very important to me to have a phone with me for emergencies, whether prepaid or regular cell phone. It became confusing trying to juggle all the different things (i.e. keeping a balance on the prepaid cell, cutting conversations with out-of-town family short because of the cost, trying to get people to call us back so we didn’t have to pay, playing “phone tag” with people we needed to talk to because we didn’t want to sit at home all day waiting for a call).

    Sorry this comment is so long. :-) We just tried a lot of things recently!

  10. love this thread! we have done it all over the years. right now we are with 2 cell phones and no landline, mainly cuz we are stuck with this contract and don’t need a landline for internet. but as soon as our contract is up we are going to go back to landline (minimum only roughly $20/mo) and only one cell phone. may use a prepaid one. hubby is self employed and needs his own phone, plus he’s a student and i’m his taxi driver so we need to be able to connect.

    like someone else commented, public phones are really hard to find these days! at this time, we really like using our cell for long distance as all of our family is out of state.

  11. We have a family plan for cell phones for myself, hubby, and his 17 year old brother that lives with us. With taxes and a text messaging plan, we pay about $90 a month. Not bad for 3 people.

    We needed a landline since we get horrible cell reception in our house. Several months ago we made the switch to Vonage phone service. It goes through our internet connection, but works exactly like a normal phone line. We have the cheapest plan and we pay $20 a month. And it includes all the extra calling features for free. I actually wrote a little review about it here:

  12. I haven’t had a landline in 5 years. I just can’t stand paying for a phone I know I’ll never use, even though I would rather have a landline around just in case something happens with the cellphone.

  13. Currently, I’m stuck with having to have both. There does not seem to be a cell that works at our house in the boondocks! I haven’t had a cell phone since moving out here and don’t miss it. It embarasses my kids no end! I do LOVE having the internet at home though and have promised the kids a very limited cable package for Christmas. Since we get more out of the internet I will eventually upgrade from dial-up. Right now satelite is our only “fast” option.

    A note on the generations–my kids don’t get the whole idea of a “phone book”–in their mind you have to write down a number if you don’t have a cell to store it on!!

  14. My in-laws insisted on putting my husband and me on their family plan because they are long-distance (we had a long distance phone plan at the time – we weren’t begging!). We are careful to use our cell phones only to call them or long distance. I’m really fortunate to have such generous family!

    Our main phone is a land line with DSL. It’s the most basic we could get (no caller ID, no call waiting, no voicemail, no long distance) and our total bill is $54 a month from Verizon.

  15. Haven’t had a land line in over 4 years and haven’t looked back. I would say most people I know don’t have a landline and if they do, I don’t know what their number is.

    Landlines are going the way of the dinosaur I think in many urban areas. The only reason to have one often is for DSL purposes, but even there you don’t have to in alot of locations.

  16. We felt it is necessary to keep a landline because of our kids. I feel they need it for 911 puposes. But to be frugal we have gone with vonage. We also use prepaid cell phones.

  17. We have a family plan cell phone setup which is $97/month after taxes, fees, etc. Includes lots of minutes, long distance, etc. No text messaging, though. DH is on the phone quite a lot, both for work purposes and family, and we talk a lot on the phone as we don’t see each other as much in person anymore (we work opposite shifts).

    We also have a landline, because sometimes we have poor reception in our house, and also in case of needing to call 911. I have had to call 911 5 times on my cell phone and have NOT been able to get through. Once I was in town and hung up and called the police station, but in a panic at home I want to be able to just pick up a phone and actually GET a 911 operator. Plus get them to track the house I’m in if I’m unable to speak, etc.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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