Monday, January 16, 2012

Living With Less: Phone Bills (Part 1)

Ooma Telo image via

Phones.  We're all addicted to them, to some degree, I think.  Right?  I know only a handful of people who go anywhere without a phone.  And I'm not one of those people.  I like staying connected.  Chatting with friends and family.  Knowing I can call for help when I need it.

And phones have gotten so cool in the past few years.  There is so much you can have right at your finger tips.  But it comes at a cost.  In fact, it comes at a really high cost.  I'm no expert in the field of cell phones, but I know several of my friends and family members pay upwards of $100 each month for their fancy phones.  And having a nice cell phone or even a decent land line means getting locked into a contract.  So if you do find a better deal, you're stuck.

But why do we get ourselves there in the first place?  Why do we get locked in?

I know, I know, it's the cool thing to do.  It seems like everybody has iPhones and droids and they all do such cool things.  But... do we really need all that?

No.  We really don't.  Expensive bills are for people who can afford to pay them.  And most people can't.  Being capable of paying for something and being able to afford something is not the same thing.  What I'm talking about here is living within your means.  What can you pay without going into debt?  What can you pay and still be able to save for a rainy day?

When our little family was getting ready to move this past summer, we started looking into a variety of phone plans.  Our old apartment had come with a free land line (all we had to do was plug our phone into the wall) that made unlimited local calls.  So we had just been using our land line for local calls and our prepaid cell phones for long distance calls or for necessary calls when we were out.  But when we moved we wouldn't get a free land line anymore.

We thought this meant that it was finally time for us to go back to being on some kind of contract cell phone plan.  That seemed to us to be the only way to be able to keep in touch with our family and friends.  But the prices for even a basic family plan with the lowest minutes possible were still way more than what we had been paying and it really turned us off.

That's when we discovered Ooma.

My sister-in-law Anna knew we were looking into phone services and she told me about a gizmo she had come across called and Ooma Telo.

Ooma Telo image via

It's basically a box (see above photo) that you plug into your internet modem and the phone runs through your internet.  Then you plug your phone (ours is just a regular cheap handset we bought when we got married--it's nothing special) into the Ooma Telo and--voila--you're ready to go.  The sound quality is good and we haven't had any dropped calls.  All around, it's a great phone service.

And the best part?  Once you buy the Ooma Telo, it's only $3.00* a month.

*I just checked with Bryan and he said our bill is actually $3.47 each month.  If I remember right, it may differ slightly depending on where you live because that monthly fee is to cover the tax for being able to call 911, which you can't do, for example, from a Google voice.

So, for the cost of the Ooma Telo and a whopping $3.00 per month, we get unlimited local and long distance calls.

Umm... I really don't know how else to tell you what an awesome deal that is.  $3.00 a month for unlimited local and long distance calls?  Guys, that's a steal.  Just look at your monthly phone bills (cell phone or land line) and you'll understand.

We bought our Ooma Telo at Costco over the summer.  It was $179 plus tax.  I just checked online and it looks like Costco is now selling them for $199.00 which is the exact same price it sells for on the Ooma website.  (Amazon also sells it for the same price, by the way.)

Bummer.  But $199 still isn't a bad deal.  If your current phone bills were as low as $17 per month and you switched to Ooma and bought the Ooma Telo for $199, you would have made up for the cost of the Ooma Telo within a year.

Though I doubt many people out there are paying phone bills as low as $17 per month.  In which case, you would make up for the cost of the Ooma Telo even faster.

Still, I can help a few of you get your hands on an Ooma Telo for a little bit cheaper.  

I've been meaning to write this post for a while since we've been so happy with the lower costs and great service from Ooma.  And, to be completely honest, I decided to write this post today on a whim.  But I just looked in my e-mail and found an old e-mail from Ooma with a special offer for referring friends.  It's good now through the end of this month (Jan 2012).

Here's what it says in the e-mail:
Have your friends and family purchase an Ooma Telo™ through this offer and they'll get an awarding-winning Ooma Telo, FREE Ooma Bluetooth Adapter (a $30 value) and FREE shipping for $189.99. That's a $50 total savings!

To be completely honest, if I were buying this I wouldn't care about the Bluetooth adapter, but the free shipping and the $10.00 off is still makes this a pretty sweet deal.

I can only send the "refer a friend" code to 5 people.

And I will tell you that I get a $25 Amazon gift card for each person who uses the code (i.e. actually buys the Ooma Telo from the Ooma website).  So I do get something for this, but I can tell you honestly that that's not why I'm sharing this information.

I'm sharing this information because we've been using our Ooma Telo since June 2011 and we have only good things to say about it.  It's been such a financial relief to have exponentially cheaper phone bills, and I want to pass that on to others.

So, all that being said, if you're going to buy an Ooma Telo and you'd like to use one of my coupon codes for $10.00 off, leave a comment with your e-mail address so I can contact you or e-mail me directly.

I only have 5 coupon codes and I can only send each code once, so please only ask for a code if you are 100% sure you will buy one through the Ooma website before January 31, 2012.

But what about cell phones?

I'm going to talk about our cell phones in depth in Living With Less: Phone Bills (Part 2), but for now I'll cover a few basics.
  • We use prepaid phones with talk and text.
  • We don't use them a lot because Bryan's not a big talker and I make 99.9% of my phone calls from home since I'm home during the day.
  • Our cell phones are good quality phones, but they are really, really cheap.

We'll talk more about that in Part 2!

So what you do think?

Are any of you thinking about switching to Ooma?  Or even just thinking about how to spend less on your phone bills?


Love Living With Less?  Check out the entire Living With Less page in the Series section.


Kristie said...

We are fairly lucky to have our city offer phone service for $15 a month, with all extra features. (call waiting, caller id, voice mail, and all sorts of other ones that I never use anyway.)
This sounds pretty cool. But I could never get my hubby to change. He is pretty set in his ways. :)

Trimble said...

Have you posted part 2 and I just don't see it? I'm also curious what you do for your internet access. Are you getting that for a good deal as well? Thanks for sharing this info!