Keeping up with technology can save money

So along with rent and food and all those other costs we can’t just magically make disappear or shrink out of our monthly expenses is a phone.

One can try and fantasize living cut off from society and not needing a phone, and in fact I totally tried to do this when I first left home to go to university because I thought with the internet, there was no need to be forking out at least $30-40 a month for a phone (landline or cell phone). Unfortunately, even as a university student living on campus I was not able to pull that off and shortly ended up getting a cell phone.

Again, when contemplating my budget and expenses for my current live-as-frugal-as-possible lifestyle in which I move to a rather expensive Canadian city without having a job, the question arises of how to get around this expense of a phone. At bare minimum usage, a phone is around $30-40, whether it’s a land line or a cell phone. Those $25/month cell plans never actually cost $25 a month and it’s been my experience that even using it as little as possible, invariably the pitiful allowance of included minutes are used up and charges for additional minutes get mercilessly tacked on to the bill pushing the cost up to at least around $40/month if not more.

And yet as someone in need of finding a job, the most important part of job hunting is having a reliable way for potential employers to get a hold of you.

So what is a frugal girl to do?

The answer can be found where so many other answers can be found, on the internet.

First of all, this only works for someone who has a high speed internet connection at home, but if there is one expense that can’t and will never be cut from the monthly broke-college-student budget, it is high speed internet (incidentally, this is another reason why having roommates isn’t so bad because you can split the cost of the internet with them) and of course a computer.

The solution to this problem of a phone is in two parts.

  • First, for outgoing calls I use a headset (mine was a gift, but even if you have to buy one it’s a one time expense that will pay for itself over and over in money saved) and set up Skype. Then, by subscribing to Skype pro for $3 month, yes that’s a three with no zero after it, I can make calls to any land line or cell phone in Canada or the USA for no charge. $3!!! Compare that to any unlimited long distance plan! Can’t be beat. Now, if I was living in a country such as the USA, Australia, Switzerland, basically a whole lot of countries except Canada, I could pay a few dollars more and get a phone number at which people could reach me or leave me voicemail and all my problems would be solved. I’d have the equivalent of a home phone line for something like $5 a month. Except Skype doesn’t have any Canadian area code numbers right now, so that’s an option I’m still waiting for.
  • Second for the issue of incoming calls. I went to RedFlagDeals and did a search for cheap cell phones. I found the SpeakOut wireless deal where you buy $100 worth of minutes that don’t expire for 1 year and you get a free phone. If you use the phone as little as possible and basically only for incoming calls that you keep short (if a friend calls me to chat and I’m at home I call them back using Skype), the minutes should last a whole year.

So between Skype and my cell phone, I anticipate spending under $12 a month on phone services including unlimited long distance in North America. Not too shabby if I may say so myself.


2 Responses to “Keeping up with technology can save money”

  1. 1 Wooly Woman January 22, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Wow good for you! I would never have thought to look on RedFlagDeals for a cell phone. We just bought a cell for Mr Wooly’s parents for Christmas, and I wish we had because the one we bought them has minutes which expire, which drives us all nuts!

  2. 2 centsprout January 22, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Yeah those minutes that expire after a month or 60 days can be really really annoying!

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