Is the only time your home phone rings these days is when a telemarketer is on other end? Do some of your friends not even know your home number because they always reach you on your cell phone?
Mark McLaughlin dropped his land line last year after realizing that he hadn’t used it in three months. “I already had a cell phone, so why spend about $45 a month extra on a land line phone I wasn’t even using?” said McLaughlin.
Dropping your service can be a great way to save money in many circumstances. But because it can have important ramifications, it is a decision that you should make carefully. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before cancelling your land line:
Can everyone in your home use a cell phone and identify their location in an emergency?
One of the benefits of having a land line is that emergency operators can identify your location and send help even if the person on the other end does not know their address. Although this can also be possible with cell phones, identifying a location can take a bit longer and minutes can be crucial in an emergency. If you have small children or elderly relatives in your home that cannot easily use a cell phone or tell their location, you may want to consider keeping your land line for the time being.
Do you have an emergency communication plan if cell coverage does not work?
Many times during a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado, the electricity may be out, but your home phone service will work with a corded phone. “We have had ice storms which cut off our electricity for days. Since our telephone network is below the ground, we usually keep our phone connections while isolated and in the dark.” Because cell phones rely on batteries, you need either electricity or a solar charger to charge your phone. Plan for how you will charge your cell phone if your power is out for an extended period of time.
During the terrorist attacks of September 2001, Shannon Mouton was living in Washington, D.C and only had a cell phone. “When the Pentagon was attacked, we went into full panic mode. My parents couldn’t reach me because the bandwidth was at capacity,” said Mouton. The next week she had a land line installed in her home with a limited plan (only 75 calls per month) and only gave the number to a handful of people.
Can you afford to quickly replace your cell phone?
Cell phones get dropped in the toilet, left on a restaurant table and dropped down the stairs. At some point most people will either break or lose their cell phone. If your cell phone is your only phone, then you will need to immediately get a replacement phone if your phone meets its demise. Since many smartphones cost hundreds of dollars, you should make sure you have the cash to buy a new (or refurbished) phone or have insurance/replacement coverage on your cell phone.
Will you have to increase your cell phone minutes?
If you are currently using your cell phone for all your phone calls, then you will most likely not see an increase in the number of minutes you use by dropping your land line. However, if the only person who calls you on your land line is your mom, but you talk with her several hours a week, then you could end up paying expensive overage charges. Estimate how many minutes you currently use your home phone and if you will need to increase your cell phone plan. If so, compare the amount you pay each month for your home phone line with the cost of the increased cell phone plan to see if it makes financial sense.
After thinking through the questions, you should have a clear idea if canceling your land line makes sense for your situation. If you decide to keep land line, be sure to periodically review your situation to see if technology and your family situation has made it the right move to drop your home phone.