Guest Post: Using Skype to Save the Family Money

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Guest Post by Karen at Saving The Family Money

In December of 2007, our cell phone company let us down and we decided to cancel them. Long story short, they changed my phone number without permission, and it was a customer service nightmare trying to get it resolved.

After long discussions with my husband and a lot of research, we decided to give Skype a try. I first heard about Skype on the Clark Howard show. I had always heard him talk so highly about it, that I thought it was worth a try. My husband is tech-savvy, so he was excited about testing the technology and seeing if it would work for us. I’m happy to say it is still our main line after 16 months.

The Technology–Skype is free software you can download onto your computer that allows you to talk over the Internet to anyone else with Skype–anywhere in the world. I wish we would have had Skype when my sister and her husband lived in Japan. It would have been nice to video chat for free anytime. Now we use the video chat with the grandparents and it’s fabulous. They enjoy seeing the kids more frequently and the kids think it's fun to see them on the computer!

The Money–The exciting part for me is we are only paying about $6 a month for our home phone service (no taxes)! Imagine the savings if you did this for your family. Although my sister is now in the same city, she signed up with Skype and is also using it as her main line.

Purchases

Skype has changed their pricing format a couple of times over the last two years. They've changed their subscription names for the bundles, so when you research it online, it can be confusing. Despite the changes, it has remained a cheap deal. There are three main levels of pricing:

  1. You can do Skype-to-Skype for free. (Includes video chat, IMs and file transfer capability, but only to other Skype members)
  2. You can upgrade for $3/month and get what I'd call "Skype-to-Phone," to be able to call normal (non-Skype) land-line phones and mobile phones. Voice mail also comes with this package.
  3. Lastly, you can pay for an actual number, so folks can call you. (This is where Skype becomes a land-line phone replacement.)

It's nice because you can take those baby steps to test the service before you commit. Even after you commit, you can choose short monthly service plans.

The Ease and Convenience–My husband got hooked quickly because of the conveniences Skype offered. He loved how it worked on both PCs and Macs. I appreciated all the options Skype had; it's been a pretty seamless change and we use it 100% of the time now.

Over time, we've used a USB Handset, USB Headset,and even bought a Skype phone that works like a cordless. Yes, that's right, you can buy an actual phone so you are not bound to the computer to use the service. It can be worked into your home and used like a "normal" phone. I've even taken my laptop on location, where Internet is available, and by simply plugging in my headset, I've been able to receive and make calls.

Please note: Skype cannot be used for emergency calling. My husband
has a work-issued cell phone so in case of an emergency, we would use that.

Karen has had so much fun saving her family money that she is blogging about it at Saving The Family Money, in hopes that it will benefit other families.

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Comments

  1. nicole says

    Skype is great! I use it to chat with relatives who I don’t get to see very much. The best part about it is if you only use the video chat part its free!

  2. Gina says

    My husband can get skype on his IPOD touch, and if you get the in the ear head phones with the microphone, then it works as well as the IPHONE…For much less, and not the crazy IPHONE monthly service fee….don’t think apple thought about that when designing the IPod….

  3. Corissa says

    We also have Skype as a replacement for a landline and love how cheap it is and how well it works. The biggest complaint/concern I have about it is that we have gotten LOTS of “chat requests” that are REALLY inappropriate. Even when I have set Skype up to block chat requests, we still get “requests to share our details” from users with names that I certainly don’t want my children reading. In order for Skype to work well as a phone replacement, it has to be running on your computer anytime you want to be able to receive phone calls. I haven’t found any way to keep these “requests to share our details” from popping up unless I completely shut down Skype, which means I don’t get phone calls.

    Has anyone else found a way to solve this problem?

  4. Kelli says

    My husband travels constantly (sometimes out of the country) and he calls me daily. Right now, he’s in Sweden, and we’ve saved a LOT of money by using Skype for his daily call home!

  5. irene kegel says

    we tried skype.. it was good until we tried magic jack…wow what a great little unit..works great and used very little space..love it and dirt cheap

  6. Alicia says

    we don’t use this instead of our regular phones but we do use it to keep in touch with Grandparents in another state. The kids love getting to see them more regularly as do the grandparents. A web cam isn’t a huge cost either. Try it out!! : )

  7. says

    I’ve always wondered what the big “to-do” is about Skype. The video messenging isn’t anything new…MSN Messenger (and Yahoo) has had that for years and it’s a free service. You just have to have an email address (and it doesn’t have to be hotmail, msn, or yahoo…my husband could even use his work email one time). Being able to use it as an actual phone service is new, though! We’re getting ready to drop our landline and just go to my cell phone. If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to look into using Skype as a phone. Thanks for the post!

  8. says

    We use and love skype for a couple of different reasons. Number one, my parents live out of state. My 2 year old knows them very well even tho they have only been in the same roof a few times. My parent will read her bed time stories, they will buy 2 copies of a book and keep one and send the other to her, then read together. They will even play games with her! Best of all… now when they do get to come to visit, she knows exactly who they are! The other reason I love it is because my brother is a Marine stationed in Iraq. Thanks to Skype we get to see him about once everyother week! Skype is GREAT!

  9. Rachael Garcia says

    I have been using Skype for the last 8 months to talk with my husband; he is currently deployed to Iraq and it is so, so wonderful to be able to not only hear his voice, but see his face at the same time! I haven’t used any of their other services (besides the computer-to-conmputer function) but I had a co-worker who used the computer-to-phone funtion and she highly recommended it, based on price and how easy it is to use!

  10. says

    We just got Skype and don’t pay for it at all even for Skype-to-phone or phone-to-Skype (we do have a phone # for it). We are looking to get a Skype phone, but have to order one online since we have a mac (be aware if you have a mac that the phone must be mac compatible). The phone that we have picked out that has the best reviews is $150, but considering we pay NOTHING for the service and it has allowed us to keep the lowest plan on our cell phone and save money that way I think it is worth it!

  11. says

    I just wanted to say that you CAN use a land line phone even if don’t have phone service to call 911. Same thing applies to cell phones. Just thought everyone would like to know!

  12. tammy says

    I used to use Skype as our full time phone, but buyers beware, over time we encountered more and more quality issues and eventually, when we hadn’t had a decent call in months, we cancelled. The caller would always here echoing, with or without the expensive $70 headset that Skype assured us would help solve the problems and calls were often dropped.

  13. says

    We found and amazing program called Oozoo. It is free and we are able to chat online with video with both the parents and another party at the same time. It is free with banners and also available(for a fee) without. It is by far the best we have found!

  14. Shanna says

    We used Skype for video chatting when our son was in Germany during his summer breaks from college – it was wonderful to be able to talk to AND see him while he was overseas – at no extra cost other than our regular Internet service. Now my husband’s new computer is set up for iChat (he has an Apple), which is terrific for video chatting – for free! – with our daughter & son-in-love who live out of state. Our son & his wife will be moving out of state next year, and iChat will provide a way for all of us to conference call and visit at the same time, using our already-paid-for Internet service.

  15. says

    Unfortunately, Skype sounds great, but up here where I am (Anchorage doesn’t have this problem by the way) we have limits on downloads with DSL through my local phone companies (out in the Valley anyway), so we are set on a 10 gig transfer limit a month or it has horrible overage fees. We, just through my husband’s normal downloading of You Tube and books and so forth are usually pretty darn close to 10 gigs, so I just can’t afford to put anything else as a strain on that limit a month.

    So, for us for now, Skype is out for me where I live in Alaska. Hopefully Matanuska Telephone will get off it’s collective butt at some point and allow us unlimited transfers one of these years, but until then we’re stuck. I’d love to get Skype too, to talk to my family in PA and ME and let them actually SEE the kids, but it’s just not going to happen anytime soon.

  16. Naomi Marks says

    If anyone is interested in another option, we are now using Magic Jack (www.magicjack.com), which plugs into the USB port on the computer. It only costs $20 per year (+ a $20 initial fee for the jack), but you can try it free for 30 days. We plugged a 2-handset cordless phone into it and it works just like a regular phone line – caller id (on the computer screen), memory buttons, voicemail, etc.

  17. Lucy says

    I received a Catalina at our Bi-Lo store in SC today with the details of this Kraft cheese promotion.