Sunday, March 22

Upgrade Update: What's in your bills?

Well, several of you have written in with your feelings about the satellite package upgrade.

I found them very informative. There seems to be an even divide among people who couldn't do without TV and those who have taken the (arguably healthier) route of going out and becoming more active in the outside world.

Wait... there's an outside world? That must be what the Travel Channel's always talking about!

Kidding aside, I'm inclined to agree with Shtinkykat that two people who are less able to leave the house -- and home all day -- are more likely to consider entertainment a necessity. Of course, that could be pure rationalization on my part.

That said, I still don't feel comfortable adding to the budget, even at "just" $12 a month. So I've decided to find the $12 in our budget.

I spent 4 minutes on the phone with a very helpful lady from Qwest. She put a block on outgoing, long-distance calls. (I would have settled for a no-charge plan with higher per-minute rates, but with the block there's no charge for adding/removing a service.)

I feel stupid for not checking the bills sooner. At $20 a month -- $25 on a particularly chatty month -- I just assumed I was getting a "good enough" deal. Then, I noticed we had paid a whopping $9 for 11 minutes of calling. It went something like this: $3.99 for the low-usage long distance plan, $1.99 interstate fee, $1.99 intrastate fee, $0.55 for calls, and then taxes. That rate was a little too close to a dollar a minute for my comfort zone!

And now that we have cell phones that work inside the house -- cheap ones, at that, since they're part of a family line -- there's really no point in the long-distance plan.

So in under 5 minutes, I was able to trim $8 from our monthly budget. That's almost $100 a year.

I think this is an excellent reminder to scrutinize bills more carefully. You can save a surprising amount with some indignation and a phone call. I may just spend the last part of this month poring over our bills and see where else we can cut. It might be an interesting game! (Plus I still have to find $4 more for the upgrade.)

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Blogger DogAteMyFinances said...

I changed my ground line to OOMA. It's flat fee for as long as the company is around for a little more than $200. That might let you scale back your cell phones a bit.

March 22, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Blogger Abby said...

I'm afraid I don't know what an OOMA is.

Actually, our cell phones are family lines -- $10/month each -- and we've just arranged to give my mom a one-day break from resident-manager-ing each month. She offered to cover the cell phones for us in return. It's a pretty sweet deal!

Still curious to know what an OOMA is though.

March 22, 2009 at 5:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not drop the landline altogether? Do all your cell phone calls get charged at the same rate, both local and long distance?

Now that it's pretty common to have local and long distance at the same price on cell phones, and people use cable internet rather than dialup, more and more people are dropping their landlines altogether. Tom and I haven't had a landline since we got our cellphones in 2001.

March 23, 2009 at 5:20 AM

Blogger Fabulously Broke said...

Cellphones & phones? tricky business. If only we could all just use email. *sigh* :)

March 23, 2009 at 6:56 AM

Blogger Meg said...

Just called Verizon to see if I could trim anything. Did you know it costs $1.49 to call 411 from a cellphone? It's not huge but I'm losing a frappicino a month in my bf's 411 calls!

I am a no-TV kind of girl but I bet I would come up w/ $12/month pretty fast for better 'net service.

March 23, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Blogger Abby said...


We don't change to a landline because my mom has the lowest number of minutes on AT&T. So we're not wanting to worry about going over.

That said, I probably should review the last couple month's billings and see just how much time we spend on the landline. At $13 (after taxes) perhaps it'd be worthwhile to just give Mom an extra $10 to boost up the minutes. I'll have to check into it.

@Fabulously Broke,

Yes, but then I'd miss the sound of people's voices. Besides people would still use cell phones to email. It's a sickness like that!


Actually -- as a skinflint -- I did know that.Well, I knew that T-Mobile charges around a dollar for it. Of course I think 411 is a huge scam anyway. When I told Tim it's like 50-75 cents on a landline, he about flipped his lid. So I broke him of that habit right quick!

Yeah, we all have our pet entertainment, I suppose. Hopefully, as a freelancer, you have a nice connection since it's a biz expense.

March 23, 2009 at 12:06 PM


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