If there is one expense that absolutely dominates the modern household monthly with seemingly oppressive rates and ridiculous added charges, it’s the mobile bill. Every month, my family spends somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 for phone service on four phones. This is coupled with our internet bill which creates a total monthly investment of around $270.
Lately, an IT associate of mine purchased my iPod touch (4th gen) from me and immediately converted it into a mobile phone. He explained his philosophy that he doesn’t use his phone while driving, and everywhere he frequents (work, home, coffee bar) has Wi-Fi. With this in mind, Skype and other VoIP systems with approved apps on the Apple App Store give him the ability to make and receive calls just like a regular phone 90% of the time. He isn’t chained to a required data plan or a set number of minutes that he can only use to call people within the U.S. He’s free to call anyone in the continent and even the world for just a few dollars more.
There are some critical drawbacks to this decision. You don’t have emergency services available to you at all times, and your phone stops working the instant you cross out of range of a Wi-Fi hotspot. Calls can often be broken up and distorted if the Wi-Fi connection isn’t strong enough. Skype has also had its share of problems in the recent past. An outage a few months ago left its non-business users without phone service for nearly an entire day. These are some critical issues to consider before taking a leap without an alternative line of communication at your disposal.
Following suit, as the Frugal Geek is supposed to in the face of a real deal, I immediately took my $2.90 monthly Skype Out plan and upgraded it to Skype In for $12.05 / 3 months. This means that my monthly total comes out to roughly $6.90. If everyone on my plan followed suit, which they probably won’t, I could reduce a $200 monthly charge down to a reasonable $27.60. Not only that, but this enables you to make and receive calls from your desktop, laptop or notebook, iPad, iPod touch, Android Tablet, etc.
Skype, or any similar service, is not intended to be a replacement for your phone service as lack of a way to make emergency calls is a critical drawback. While this likely isn’t going to be a preferred solution for everyone, the extra phone line can come in handy especially when you’ve misplaced your primary phone and have to make and/or receive a call.