Monday, January 14, 2013

If I only had $120 a month

Phones are such an antiquated technology.  We still have a landline and cell phones.  They just seem old fashioned.  If I'm driving, training, or sleeping I won't talk on the phone.  Every other minute of the day I'm either sitting with a laptop in front of me or I don't want to be disturbed (eating, using the bathroom, etc) so it would be a bad time to take a call.  In fact, it's always a bad time to take a call.  I average 17 minutes a month on the cell phone.    Kelley uses her cell more than I do, but she only averages 112 minutes a month on her phone.  Who knows how often we use the landline.

It seems silly to me to pay $40 a month for the landline, and $93 a month for the cell phones.  Verizon is offering a free iPhone4 as an upgrade, but all smartphones require a data plan and I'm not willing to pay for a data plan.  Yes I still use a flip phone that doesn't even have a querty keyboard. I still have to hit the number 2 three times to send you the letter "c" in a text message.  Taking the free upgrade to the iPhone4 would raise my bill to $120 a month before taxes.  Suddenly it doesn't seem so free.  And there are no free upgrades to any non-smart phones.  Guess I'll have to keep my little flip phone for as long as it will last.

But what if we got rid of them?  Phones are a voice only numeric medium over copper lines in the ground.  Who needs a phone number?  If I didn't have a phone number, landline or cell phone, then you could only contact me through email, facebook, twitter, skype, or any other type of synchronous or asyc technology. 

Voice only is a crappy medium.  You can't see facial expresions, but can detect tone and inflection.  Video chat is readily available from any number of devices.  Telemarketers can't call me on skype.  Wifi is everywhere now.  Limiting the number of people that can engage me in conversation has its perks.

I went without a cell phone for most of 2008 and 2009, only getting a phone when I took the job in Raleigh because I would be away from Kelley and the kids during the week for a few months, and making the 4 hour drive every friday and sunday.  Now it's $93 a month for 17 minutes of talking.  But don't you need a cell phone for emergencies?  17 minutes a month says no.  Plus I can take off at any time and run 20 miles in any direction to get to someone else's phone or landline if I need to call for emergency help. 

And I'm sure there's a Magic Jack app or something like that to turn a regular iPod touch into a talkie or textie.  What's the ROI on something like that?  I bet I could pay for an iPad and put skype on it for the cost of only a few month's worth of phone service.  And if I want to talk to someone I would like to see them too.  Face contact can be very important.  And skype also has a chat feature that could easily replace texting.  So other devices that can connect to wifi can do anything that a phone can do without having to pay a monthly fee, and wifi is everywhere now.

So really it's only inconvenient for other people.  Most people would think I'm crazy to get rid of voice/talk/text entirely, and would have to remember a better way to get in touch with me instead of just using the number saved into their cell phone.

The disclaimer is that I work in technology.  I am a software developer for a mortgage servicing company that is in a division of a very large and recognizable technology company.  I build web sites, MVC sites, console apps and databases in the Microsoft stack (C# and SQL Server).  I started building apps for windows phones back in 2004, and never got into the languages used for android or iPhone development.  I have "handled" some iPhone and Android apps in the past and will eventually learn more about the development of those apps. I haven't had to make the leap yet.

With the payroll taxes going up this month (FICA tax back to 6.2%?) we've had to scale back our monthly expenses, and that had me looking into the cell phone bill.  Our DirecTV bill was also $120 a month so we slashed it pretty good already.  Now I'm starting to look into killing directv entirely and just using a pc connected to the internet with a broadcast antennae for the local stations and hulu/netflix/whatever for what little tv we watch anyway.  Sports seems to be the only thing missing from the equation with limited access to the ESPN app or ESPN3.

Ultimately, the kids have an easy time using the landline and we can't have kids in the house without being able to call 911 somehow so we can't destroy phones entirely.  So we're not going to end up changing anything.  But it would be nice to get into something not publicly available as a phone number.

Would you ever consider dropping a primary service entirely like phone or tv service?

20 comments:

Colleen said...

We don't have a home phone, but I can't imagine not having a cell phone. And I have thought about dropping out cable, but I'd rather cut out a few dinners out a month to keep it. :)

Al's CL Reviews said...

I thought you could get rid of your landline and still call 911 through it.

I really need to cancel the landline or buy a phone for it. I can't commit either way (the dog ate the phone).

healthy ashley said...

I love that you work in technology and are posting about this. Despite the irony, I love your points and totally agree. I've thought of getting rid of data on my iPhone but I feel like I get a lot accomplished throughout the day with the data, even clearing out my inbox at red lights is worth it to me.

RockStarTri said...

Seems too hard to get rid of phones. Wait until your girls want phones too! Double the bill with 4 phones instead of 2.

Kenley said...

We dropped direct tv when we got a roku. I have to have cell phone for my job, but would drop it other wise. I am old fashioned like that. Hey call, and if its important leave a message and I might call you back kind of thing. Well, best wishes on what you decide. I dont blame you.

Mary said...

We dumped our landline (no kids) in 2009 and our cable in 2010 - and we haven't missed either one.

Amber said...

We've gone back and forth on having cable over the last several years. Right now we do have it, but barely use it. However we signed a 3 year contract so we're kind of stuck with it! We also don't have a landline, just two cell phones which cost $150 a month so kind of expensive however cell phone plans in canada are ridiculous!

Alex said...

We dropped tv when Rosalie was born and got a Roku box. We LOVE the Roku-the only thing we miss is HBO.

Ryan said...

No direct tv,no land line, no cable, but 3 cell phones; 1 with data, 1 with data navy pays, and one voice/txt for the kid. I could go totally off the grid until Imoved to Italy now I luv my iphone

Jason said...

I am with you dude. I look around and think WHY? Why have this or that? I work from home and don't turn on the TV while here. And I have to leave so I head to the coffee shop and work from there so there is the free WiFi (OK $2 b/c I hate to be that guy that doesn't buy a cup of coffee for 8 hours of free WiFi)

I have to stop thinking and start doing.

Katie said...

I haven't had cable in....ummm......ever?

Ironman By Thirty said...

Finally cancelled my landline the other month. I've been living off of Google Voice for two months now to meet work obligations. I picked up a $30 USB headset (could have gotten one a bit cheaper, but I occasionally have 2-3 hours waste of time conference calls I have to sit on so I wanted something comfortable). It is great because I have it set up to ring both my computer and cell phone at the same time. That way if I am away from my computer or my browser is closed, I don't miss any calls. That is the one downside to Google Voice. There is no desktop app or anything to answer calls. You have to have Gmail open in one of your tabs for it to ring through to the computer. On the other hand, at 5:00, I can close that tab and I am no longer reachable. Sort of like unplugging the phone. I have read some awesome reviews about the Obi110 (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57318094-1/swap-your-landline-for-google-voice-with-an-obi/) that allows you to use your existing phone with Google Voice. For a $40-$50 investment, your ROI is 1-2 months depending on your landline cost.

As for a cell phone, I absolutely could not live without it. It is, however, paid for by work (as is my wife's) so we don't ever see a bill.

Cable. Eh. I could see it go if there was a way to watch sports online. That is only thing keeping me plunking down the cash for that. Plus, I thrive on background noise while I work so the TV (or Netflix TV reruns, iTunes, etc.) is usually on during the day.

hebba said...

Have TV now, but went without for 3 years and didn't miss it at all.

Carly said...

We throw away a lot of money on TV and phones each month and it drives me bonkers! We bundled our phone service with the internet and cable. When our contract is up I am going to re-evaluate and perhaps make some changes.

Hugh Jass said...

Wow! look at all the comments on this post, lol!

2010 and 2011 were completely cable free for us. We only had internet with hulu and netfix. Brad went to a bar for games he really wanted to see which meant I no longer had to hear him coaching from our couch. A win for me. My brother didn't want to pay the huge disconnect fee for his DirectTV last year so he gave it to me for my BDay before he left for china. He just cancelled it two weeks ago, and I'm telling you, I could care less. I told him to cancel months ago but he wanted the fee to go down some more. Now we have very basic cable for football and news with the internet apps.

My parents didn't have cell phones in the 80's and 90's and we didn't die. I always think about that when the cell phone bill comes. I actually went phoneless for a year, around 2003. It was because I broke up with Brad, kicked him out of our apartment that I couldn't afford and spiraled into debt losing my phone. But that's a whole other story.

raulgonemobile said...

I hear ya. My wife is tired of me harping on this very issue.

I finally wore her down and we dumped the landline. It's ported to Google Voice, so we didn't lose the number and have to deal with calling all of the doctor's offices, credit cards, etc. to update our number.

We cut the cable too. All right around Christmas-time.

I'd love a smartphone. So would she. It's hard to justify the extra cash, though. Damn hard.

Katherine - Real Food Runner said...

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Diana said...

It's amazing to me that we have to pay for TV~and I'm one of the "we"!

Catherine Hayes Brown said...

We got rid of our landline months ago. it has only recently become and issue. My husband's cardiac events monitor cannot be downloaded using a cell phone, so I have to take it to work to download from my desk phone, which leaves him with a whole day that he cannot record any events. We still won't be adding the landline back. As for TV, we have Uverse. Love it. I've wondered what life would be like without it. My kids would have a fit if they couldn't watch Bubble Guppies, Team Umizoomi, Pocoyo, or WordWorld. So I don't think we can get rid of it. Listening to my kids whine makes turning it off not worth it!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I actually have never had TV. I don't miss it and I find that I get more done without it. However, I could not do without internet. I am addicted.