Saturday, August 1, 2009

Oh, Internet Phones




I've been really into the idea of an internet phone for a while. Being able to have the internet whenever I need it is really very appealing to me. Having a GPS or even just GoogleMaps available when I am on the go is a huge perk for me, as I am constantly getting lost, for my job and otherwise.

But, paying an extra $25 a month plus buying a phone did not sound appealing. Especially since it wasn't something that I really NEEDED. Then, something came along to help me change my mind.

Currently, the agency that I work for provides us with work cell phones. We have a cell phone and they take care of all the billing for it. It's nice. It's convenient.

But, after this month they are switching over to a stipend-only policy. Instead of paying for our cell phones, they will give us a stipend of $60-$100 per month based on our usage.

That got me thinking.

Currently, I pay around $40 per month for my phone on a family plan with my mom, my step-dad and my brother. That includes a certain number of minutes, which I rarely exceed and unlimited texting, which I added after I started exceeding my old text limit. A $60 stipend per month would cover that easily, so I could potentially just use my current phone as my work phone.

That option, unfortunately, would not work for me. I work in social work and often have to give my phone number to the families I work with. I currently have a work number for this. Using my personal phone would be a little close for comfort when blending personal and professional life. I also have a phone number that is in my hometown's area code. My work families would not be able to call me on this unless they had phones with long distance. Many do not.

After MUCH negotiation and calls to the phone company, T-Mobile, I was able to arrange the following with my lovely step-mom's help:

1. I will add a line to our family plan. This will bring our total for the five phones to $90 a month. I will be responsible for 2/5ths of this.

2. The line I am adding will be switched to a local area code for Seattle.

3. I will buy an internet phone for around $150 and a data plan for $25 per month.

4. I will continue to pay $20 a month for texting.

After all is said and done, my portion of my family's cell phone bill will be approximately $81. With work paying for $60 of this, the total cost to me will be approximately $21, which is $19 LESS than I am currently paying for cell phone service.

Smart? Yes. Ruling at life? Perhaps.

I am aware that I could've chose another path (I was strongly considering using Second Voice but didn't want to deal with calling their voicemail number every time I needed to call out) that would allow my to pocket some of the stipend money from my agency, but really, this is pretty sweet.

Now all I have to do is wait for it to come in the mail.

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