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.
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:
- You can do Skype-to-Skype for free. (Includes video chat, IMs and file transfer capability, but only to other Skype members)
- 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.
- 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.