This blog contains some simple tips and advice from two regular guys. We're not accountants, financial advisors, or brokers, so follow, ignore, or discuss our ideas as you see fit.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Telecom 2008, part two: Cell phone

Posted by Matt

Okay, so I'm set up with VoIP. It just so happens that during the process, I lost my cell phone. I was tempted to not replace it, but ultimately agreed with my wife that it is nice for us to be able to reach each other anywhere. However, I was still a month away from being eligible for a telephone upgrade discount. I definitely didn't want to pay for a full price phone, so what was I to do?

One of the Verizon salespeople had a good suggestion. He suggested I look around and ask around to find an old phone that I could use temporarily, and I discovered one of my wife's old cell phones in our son's toy box. It was initially retired after he threw it into a tub full of water, but it must have dried out after my wife got a new phone because it was working when I checked it. The battery was very weak, so I could only get about 5 minutes of talk time on it between chargings, but I decided I could get by with that for a month. This saved me from paying retail price for a new phone, so when the time comes for you to upgrade, consider hanging on to your old cell phone as a backup.
If your backup has the same problem that mine did (weak battery), you can work around it by programming three of the phone's buttons for call forwarding. When I went to work each morning, I hit one button to speed dial the codes and numbers that would send all my cell phone calls to work. When I got in the car to go home, I would hit the second button to "unforward" my calls (route them to the cell phone). When I got home, I hit the third button to forward calls to the VoIP line.

This worked very well, and I was briefly excited when I thought that I could use this strategy to reduce my cell phone bill. If I can forward all my cell calls, could I get by with a cheaper rate plan? Unfortunately, I called the cell company and discovered that I get charged for the talk time of any call that is directed to the cell number, even if it is forwarded somewhere else. Drat!

I finally reached my upgrade date this week and not a moment too soon; the interim cell phone died completely over the weekend. I ordered a new "Chocolate" phone from Verizon. I have to pay for it, but it comes with a rebate that will pay the cost back. So now I have three phone numbers (work, home, cell) and I'm paying for two sets of phone service. It doesn't feel very frugal, so I'm still scheming.
Check back later this week for my next and final telecom report.

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