Monthly Home Office Expenses: Is It Feasible to Use Cell Phone Only and Lose the Landline Phone?

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I am pretty diligent about reviewing my monthly expenses periodically to see where and what I can trim. Recently, I got back into doing an overhaul of expenses in light of the increased cost of every little thing and as part of the Week 1 exercises in the Business Rescue teleseminar series I've been attending. When it comes down to it my philosophy is to minimize necessary expenses (insurance, taxes, utilities) while consciously choosing what I want to spend my money on and why. The why factor is important to me because we all place different values on different things. The key is finding the right balance while doing right with your overall financial goals.

One of the monthly expenses that constantly confounds me is a combination of my cell phone bill and household/home office landline phone. Because we both live a distance from our families and I use the telephone extensively in my coaching business, we have one of those unlimited long distance type plans from Verizon. It's a pretty penny each month, somewhere around $70 or $80 but it sure beats paying actual long distance when I am on the phone for hours at a time conducting or attending teleclasses or coaching sessions. Believe me, I did that early on and almost had a coronary when I saw the monthly bill.

From a cell phone standpoint we've always had a pretty generous "family plan". While I was working full time and building my business my cell phone was my precious link to the future because I could use it for freelance related calls on my lunch hour and breaks. Now I use it as my primary business number on all my marketing materials. While it can be a drag getting business calls on personal time, I can use the caller id to screen them out. Not to mention I get to turn the cell phone OFF. It sure beats the alternative -- getting business calls on the home line at midnight because someone is calling from another time zone. While I could get yet another, separate business line in my home, I faint at the thought of having a third phone bill.

That always leads me back to the question -- is it feasible to go to a cell phone only life? Or, is it reasonable to shun a cell phone altogether? Martinique at Queercents asked the question "Monthly Expenses: Is it worth living without a cell phone?":

I was adding up our expenses, and every time I do this I get so angry at how much we pay for our cell phones each month. Between the two of us our $70 plan adds up to $120 each month - that’s $1440 every year! What a lot of money just for the luxury of being able to text, "getting off the train, be home in 15? or "where are you guys? we’re here," or being able to squeeze a chat in on the bus or while walking on my lunch break - is all that really worth nearly fifteen-hundred dollars a year?

Before cell phones we did just fine. We managed to make plans and meet up with people as easily as we do now.

I laugh when I read this because it is true - before cell phones we managed to make appointments, meet with friends, and conduct business just fine. In fact I often take it back a bit further to the days before voicemail. Now that makes me really wonder how we ever got anything done. Although I have to say I do miss those little pink "While You Were Out" message pads with all the little checkboxes.

Personally, I couldn't imagine giving up my cell phone entirely because of the safety factor involved while traveling alone and doing all the road cycling I do. Of course at times it is debatable how convenient and safe it really is because I often find myself out of range when I might need it most.

While Martinique considers ditching the cell phone entirely, many others, especially Gen X and Y folks seem to swing the other way -- skipping the landline entirely. Of course with VOIP (digital phone over the Internet) there is now a third choice as well.

Kathleen McDade explores her conundrum in "Landline or Cell?":

I’m hesitant to give up having a landline phone - even for something like @home. Sure, it would be cheaper than our regular monthly phone bill, and we’d still have a central number for the family (my kids are too young to carry a cell).

But what happens when the power goes out? A cell phone will have power for a while at least. I suppose we could always keep charging them in the car - as long as we still have gas.

I say - or even what happens when the Internet service goes down? I remember a recent frustrating time with Comcast where I had problems and all they wanted was to sell me digital voice. I said - "Why? So when I have a problem with my service I can't even call you?". As maddening as being on the phone without connectivity when the automated voice keeps telling you to go to the support section of the website. Surely people have headed to a padded cell immediately after situations like this.

Virginia DeBolt recently wrote about "Going Cell Only". She sites a lot of great statistics about this trend. While she didn't fall into the demographic of cell only users, she is happy:

I just became a cell-only household. I didn't use my landline much-not for long distance, not for Internet service. I really didn't see a reason to continue keeping the account.

But going cell-only means you are at the mercy of cell service providers. As Virginia points out:

Are all 5 billion going to be as frustrated as I am with cell phone plan restrictions?

My big issue with plulling the plug is I'm stuck dealing only with a cell phone company. For example, much as I'd like to have an iPhone, I'd owe my current company over $200 to get out of my deal with them and switch to ATT. I think we need to change the way the phone companies keep us in a strangle-hold while we're switching to cell-only households.

While I didn't really think about that -- it is annoying. What annoys me more though are the people I do business with who are already cell only. I try to talk with them and oftentimes the connection is bad, it cuts out, or gets dropped. That is no way to run a business ongoing. For a quick chat on the run maybe, but for extended dealings? Not to mention when I visit my parents I don't even get cell reception in their house. Many other houses and locations are like that. How convenient is that? I couldn't imagine the conversations at home with my Mom if I was suddenly cutting in and out or dropping her. She'd go nuts.

Business and personal life is all about relationships. How can you build them successfully with unreliable or intermittent communication tools? Again, great for quick check-ins but extended calls can be hit or miss.

Perhaps we'll continue to see a trend for mobile only. I totally get the desire to save money on monthly expenses. For me, though, I see the best course of action to be a hybrid solution. Reduce my cell phone plan to the bare minimum I need for typical usage and keep the landline. One becomes a business expense and one does not. It might not be the cheapest solution, but at least it gives me options.

How about you? Any additional or new thoughts on this particular angle?


Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, works with women who are ready to create their lives and businesses in a way that fits who they are rather than how they were told they "should". Get the free 12 part eCourse "How to Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin" http://www.coaching4lesbians.com and start taking charge of your own success.

To get the latest word on personal finances from an LGBT perspective and Paula's practical coach approach to the topic check out Queercents http://www.queercents.com.

Are you a small or solo business owner who wants to be comfortable in their own skin online via a website that is a true reflection of who you are and what your business is about? Paula's signature down to earth and "plain English" approach to website design and consulting can help. Visit http://www.paulagwebdesign.com to download the free successful website planner which will make your web project a breeze.

 

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