Landlines cost too much; you should ditch yours. Here’s how to do that, save hundreds every year, and still get unlimited long distance calling from a familiar device: your current home phone.
Monthly costs can add up to a lot over time, which is why it’s always a smart idea to see if tech knowledge can save you money. Landlines are a textbook case of this: they cost quite a bit on a regular basis, and are easily replaced with inexpensive or free VoIP alternatives.
Let’s first take a look at how much clinging to your landline is costing you, then at a couple of simple alternatives you won’t even notice after you set them up. The numbers, and the specific trick, are USA only, but we’ll talk about alternatives.
What Does a Landline Cost You?
In the USA it’s not unusual for an unlimited long distance phone plan to cost $40 a month, with local-only lines costing around $25 (plus whatever you end up paying for long distance calls). Some bundled packages (phone/cable/internet) make the exact price hard to nail down, but generally these numbers apply – and add up quickly when you think about them annually:
- $40 a month is $480 per year.
- $25 a month is $300 per year.
This might not sound like much, but what could you do with that money if you weren’t spending it? Invest it for 10 years, with a 7% interest rate, and it adds up quickly:
- Saving $40 a month can earn you $6,923.39.
- Saving $25 a month can earn you $4,327.12
(The right financial tools make calculations like this simple).
Clearly it’s in your financial best interest to ditch your landline, but what should you replace it with?
Can I Just Use My Cell Phone?
Some of you might be asking: why have a landline at all? Why not just use a cell phone? Most people who entered adult life with a mobile device probably never considered getting a land line in the first place, but there are advantages to having an always-on phone in your house.
- If reception is spotty near your home, a landline ensures call quality.
- It can be useful to have a phone in the house for guests to make outgoing calls.
- Landline phones are more comfortable tucked between your shoulder and neck.
This might not apply to you, of course, but that doesn’t mean having a home phone is useless to everyone.
What Should I Use Instead? Obihai and Google Voice
With these thoughts in mind I’ve been searching for the perfect VoIP setup – and I think I’ve found it. With it I can use a conventional dial-tone phone to make and receive calls, with no ongoing expense.
The secret: Obihai devices.
These little boxes, which start at around $50, are compatible with the landline phones you already have. With one, you can use a number of VoIP services to make and receive calls – including one that’s free.
Obihai devices work with Google Voice, Google’s free unlimited phone and voicemail service. This means you can make unlimited free calls to the USA and Canada, and receive calls to a dedicated (US) Google Voice number. Call display is supported, and you can even access your Google Voice voicemail from your home phone. Even better: it’s all pretty painless to set up.
Yes, Google Voice is a somewhat confusing technology that Google itself is slowly integrating into Hangouts, but it’s not hard to see the value here: a one-time purchase of $50, and a few minutes of setting things up, can save you hundreds every year. And there are lots of other awesome things you can do with Google Voice, including sending and receiving SMS free messages from your computer or mobile devices.
It’s worth noting that Google Voice can’t make 911 calls, but you can add this service to your Obihai device for $15 a year.
If Google Voice isn’t available where you live, Obihai is compatible with a wide range of other VoIP services, which we might review at a future date. All of them offer affordable calling rates.
Skype: A Potential Alternative.
In the past we’ve talked about using Skype as you primary home phone line, and that can be affordable. For around $60 a year you can usually make and receive unlimited calls within a specific area, and if you need to connect with a faraway country frequency unlimited plans and local numbers are pretty powerful savings tools. But setting this up has gotten a bit more complicated, mostly because it’s harder to find dedicated Skype phones than five years ago. There’s no reason you couldn’t set up an old smart phone for this purpose, though.
And I’m sure there are other alternatives out there, which is why it’s time to turn this over to you. What’s the most affordable VoIP service you’ve found for replacing landlines? Let’s talk everything over in the comments below – I’m looking forward to the conversation.