Can you live without a home phone (just a cell phone)?

In a little experiment we have cut out our home phone (land line) service. It saves us about $30 a month. That service included unlimited long distance but I have that on my cell phone so it seemed redundant.

While I am happy to save the money, I do have concerns (of course!) about giving up my land line:

1.      I can’t hold my cell phone on my shoulder and talk while I wash dishes or fold clothes. I could use the head set but then the only place I have to set the phone is in my cleavage and invariably I hang up on people.

2.      Sometimes I forget to charge and/or lose my cell phone in the house.

3.      I don’t hear the ring all over the house.

4.      You can hook your security system up without a home phone but it costs you more to hook it up and more per month.

5.      I am worried the kids will never learn how to answer a phone. I don’t want them touching my cell phone (they will break it!), and it’s weird for a kid to pick up an adult’s personal cell phone line. How will they ever learn phone manners?

The upside is you’re saving money.

What do you think: Do you have a land line at home?

Is it safe to only have a cell phone at home? (I worried about leaving a baby sitter at home but then I realized they all have their own cell phones.) What if you forget to charge it, lose it or have problems – all of which seem to happen often to my phone.)?

How will kids learn to answer a phone that is not specifically their phone?

(Check back in at 2 p.m. for a second topic. Also make sure you caught yesterday’s discussion about whether letting kids cry it out can make them less smart and less kind.)

111 comments Add your comment

HB

October 12th, 2010
2:32 am

I rarely use my home phone but wasn’t quite ready to cut the cord, so I went to Vonage. I have a 1-yr contract for about $15/month (I think other companies also offer comparable deals). In many cases, 911 can have trouble locating cells in an emergency, so I prefer to have some sort of landline. Online call services aren’t traced the same way traditional landlines are, but when you set it up, your address is programmed in so that 911 can pick it up.

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DebDoes

October 12th, 2010
6:20 am

We have a home phone and it is a total waste. I say cut the expense, he says, we need a home phone. I hope the telemarketers enjoying calling us….they are the only ones who use that number!

Greg

October 12th, 2010
6:24 am

I can solve many of these problems for you. We did this same thing over a year ago.

First, we kept the landline number by transferring it to a new cell phone line on the existing family plan. We went from $30+ to $10 on the family plan, so it wasn’t quite the same savings, but it was nice not to have to change phone numbers everywhere I had the landline number saved.

Second, you should buy an X-Link device at http://www.myxlink.com. This device links to your cellphone via bluetooth and then extends the cell phone through your old landline house wiring. You can then use your existing landline phones as extensions to your cell phone. They ring when the cell phone rings. All you have to do is set the cell phone next to the X-Link so it can connect with bluetooth. It also “forces” you to have a specific place to set down the phone in the house to reduce the chances of losing it. Our house cell phone is always there, and I always keep it plugged in so it never runs out of power. You can connect up to three cell phones that way, and each one can have a different ring pattern to the land lines. Caller ID also propagates to your land lines, though what shows on the landline depends completely on the names and numbers you have entered in the cell phone’s address book. Some phones will only send the number and not the name.

We don’t have a security system, so I can’t help you there. I also want to warn you that you can’t use a fax machine with a cell phone if you have one.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

shaggy

October 12th, 2010
6:38 am

We have one of those Andy Griffith phones, rotary dial and all. You should see the looks we get when someone needs to use the phone. Kids just stare at it, like it will bite them. Classic.

shaggy

October 12th, 2010
6:45 am

Greg,
For all of the trouble you go through to use your X-Link phone as a house phone, for crying out loud, why don’t you just have a simple land line phone? Gotta be cheaper and you keep it in one place and hooked to power, just like yours.

From your description you have an overpriced “cordless phone” that used to be a cell phone, which also connects like an ancient party line. I mean, who wants to share extensions during a private conversation, and what happens to the line in use when a call comes in to the other two cell phones?

Melisa

October 12th, 2010
6:49 am

My main concern would be related to 911 services. They can’t trace you with your cell phone and if you’re relying on your babysitter to know exactly how to get to your house that could cause delay in help arriving. I know that when I’m visiting friends/family, I often know their address or even just the name of the street. I wouldn’t have sufficient knowledge of cross streets and other information needed by emergency help to locate their homes. Additionally, your children might not have that information if they had to call help in your absence or if you were incapacitated. I think it’s one of those decisions to save money in the short term that could cost dearly in the long term.

Kay

October 12th, 2010
6:56 am

We’ve been without a home phone for a long time and haven’t missed it at all. Granted I’m not the type of person who freaks out if she misses a call – I figure that’s what voicemail is for. My in-laws however will never go without their home phone because they have to have assurance they never miss a call just in case they miss out on a “very important phone call”. Not exactly sure what phone call would be that important but alas they can afford having a land line so more power to them!

catlady

October 12th, 2010
6:59 am

Here in the mountains we don’t have reliable cell coverage. Sometimes you have to get on top of the house or way down in the garden–not too handy when you have a fire or you have fallen and need help. Heck, it’s $30, Theresa. I imagine you can afford it. Just do without something else!

1sus

October 12th, 2010
7:14 am

We’d love to but don’t have good enough cell coverage in our house. Heck, we can’t even get satellite tv! Seriously, they can’t manage to “see” the satellite from our house? We live in the middle of a HUGE neighborhood!

lakerat

October 12th, 2010
7:14 am

I am with catlady in that we get very poor cell reception in out house – we have to go outside to be able to stay connected (at least with our AT&T cell phones we have that problem).

And, computer services (like Vonnage) are unreliable if your cable/internet goes down.

I am all for getting rid of our land lines, as they are basically useless except for being the main number to which most friends and family can call. We use a third party long distance carrier (and most of the time utilize our cell phone long distance capabilities at no cost) – we would save only $37 a month to do away witht he land line – $18 for the land line service and $19 in fees and taxes – a total rip off, but piece of mind.

And, Melisa, do you not watch NCIS – authorities can zero in on your cell phone via the closest cell phone tower from which you are transmitting in matter of minutes so the 911 worry you have is not warranted.

ABC

October 12th, 2010
7:19 am

Sorry Theresa, but unless your kids are monkeys (and from the way you discuss them, it sounds like they sometimes are!), they can’t break a cell phone that’s in a good protective case unless they are dropping it from your roof or running over it with your car. Can you give your kids a break once in a while instead of assuming the worst with them?

Jeff

October 12th, 2010
7:28 am

I haven’t had a home phone in 5 years. It’s not worth the money for the one time a year it would be more “convenient”.

TWG, love ya, but you’re playing way too many what-if mommy-worry on this one.

motherjanegoose

October 12th, 2010
7:35 am

We have a land line for phone and fax. We had big phone problems this summer when we tried to upgrade to a different service with the same carrier. I am not going into it her but we had been with the same provider for 12 years and now we are not.

One critical thing we learned was that if we had EVER called 911…our land line was tied to a different address and not of our choice. We falsely assumed that our actual address ( that we live in) was on the land line. IT WAS NOT. My husband argued with them for quite some time. they kept telling him a different address. We bought this house new 13 years ago and thus are the only ones who have ever lived in this address. If there had ever been an emergency…the address was not the one we are living in but several street over. Who knew? I am sure they could smell a fire…a block away but what about a heart attack or home intrusion?

I did read something in the paper, while I was out and about, regarding the fact that HS kids do not know how to DIAL or push buttons for an actual phone number as many have the numbers stored in their phone. It was a teacher who was asking parents to please teach this skill as not all numbers are stored. Do kids know how to look up numbers in a phone book…probably not. The teacher was mentioning that if the power was out…that would be a problem.

Pretty soon no one will know how to read a map. I love my GPS but always have a map too as I have been in the middle of a journey and my GPS fritzed out more than once! Not fun, when there is no cell service to boot!

motherjanegoose

October 12th, 2010
7:36 am

sorry for the typos…just getting my coffee :)

Reign

October 12th, 2010
7:41 am

i have a land line and i’m keeping it until i’m ready to get rid of it. i just like the big phone i can put on my shoulders and do stuff around the house while i talk. i’m just not ready for the small cell phone to be my main phone yet. i know i’m paying an unnecessary $30/month, but it works for me…for now. i use the cell phone more as an emergency phone when i’m out and about. although the calls i get aren’t emergencies

ML

October 12th, 2010
7:49 am

Enter your comments here

Photius

October 12th, 2010
8:06 am

No cell phone here…. yes on land line – for 911.

motherjanegoose

October 12th, 2010
8:10 am

@ Reign…you made me think of something else. I RARELY ever talk on the phone and just SIT. I clean my house, load the dishwasher. fold laundry, take out trash etc. Do other men multi task while they are on the phone, in their homes? When my husband is on the phone….he is ON the phone….period ( at home).

I can get a LOT done while I am on the phone and never just sit and talk. Just curious. We could not do that back when phones had cords. I remember the corded phones being UPGRADED with a LONG cord that would reach all over the kitchen….:0.

atlmom

October 12th, 2010
8:17 am

we still have our home phone – thru vonage. security not an issue – our provider just recently set it up wirelessly (which is BETTER than thru land line – if an intruder cuts the phone line with a land line, you’re SOL – but if it’s wireless, they can’t).
We think that it would be strange to give our kid’s friends our cell phone numbers – we have a ‘family number’ for people who are calling our kid.
Also, we have a google voice number (free) that forwards to our phones, to give out in case our other numbers get changed for any reason.
I also like having a home phone – cause , then I know who’s calling the kids, yeah, they’re young, but still. If they have their own cell then I might not know who’s talkign to them. and, well, i like it better this way for now.

ugadawg2005

October 12th, 2010
8:26 am

I went with magic jack. It is a usb device you plug into the computer. The other end is a regular phone jack. You can plug up a phone directly, or plug it into a home jack and it will work on all the phoned throughout the house. It costs abour $40 at Wal-Mart for the device and a year of service (unlimited domestic long distance). You can get another 5 years of service for about $60, or just buy the subsequent years of service when the time comes for $20/year. I give that number out to people I don’t want to have my cell phone. It works for faxing as well.

mom2alex&max

October 12th, 2010
8:30 am

I gave up my land line years ago. I never, ever, ever missed it. Only people that called it were telemarketers. And to top it off, for some weird reason the ring upset my dog. He would howl every time it rang.

Only thing it’s starting to become an issue is that my 10 year old likes to talk on the phone. But I think we will just be adding another line via family plan and that can be his phone. But he won’t be taking it anywhere until he’s in middle school.

Land lines are useless to me. In re 911: meh. I’m sure it’ll be soon that they will be able to tell your address through cell phones too.

UF Mom

October 12th, 2010
8:31 am

We keep a landline for a safety backup. I live in coastal FL (huurricane central!) and we’ve had power losses extend for DAYS when a bad one hits. The corded landline phone from the prehistoric ages has yet to fail us. I don’t know how many days my cell could survive between charges but I’m guessing not more than a few even without use.

If I lived elsewhere I might feel differently but it’s worth the piece of mind in my case.

ugadawg2005

October 12th, 2010
8:32 am

motherjanegoose

October 12th, 2010
7:35 am

I never use a phone book. I always use the internet to look up phone numbers. If the power is out, I still have 4g wireless. There is also 1-800-free-411. It is just like 411, except that it is free and you have to listen to a short advertisement.

motherjanegoose

October 12th, 2010
8:39 am

I rarely use the phone book either but do know how to use it! I am thinking some kids will never learn this skill but perhaps they do not need to? Do they even know how to look things up in a dictionary, with the guide words? Some kids do not know how to perform math skills, as they have always used a calculator. Kind of like the debate on whether kids need to learn to write in cursive. Who knows?

JATL

October 12th, 2010
8:41 am

It’s worth $30 a month for us. I like having a land line, and we live very close to the Dekalb/Fulton county line. Half the time if you call 911 on your cell, you’re bounced into Dekalb’s 911, when we require Atlanta City/Fulton services -so for true emergencies you don’t really want to have time wasted being re-routed or having the 911 operator send an ambulance or cops to your street name in their county instead of yours. Not sure if the 911 thing is an issue for people not living close to county lines, but if you haven’t thought of that -check into it.

TechMom

October 12th, 2010
8:43 am

I’m all for saving money but with little kids, I don’t think this is the way. Even adults freak out and forget the simplest things when there is an emergency.

We had a friend who did this and then didn’t want to get her daughter a cell phone until she was 13. So then when the daughter was about 10, she started giving her mom’s cell phone number out. I definitely don’t want to be out and about and constantly barraged by my kids’ friends. TWG, I know yours are young but unless you plan on getting them (actually just your daughter – boys don’t talk on the phone much at that age) a cell phone when their 10, you’re going to find yourself wishing for a home phone.

We tried Vonage but I felt like I was on my company’s conference line all the time (there’s a split second delay that always has people talking over each other – which happens on the cell sometimes too… very annoying to me). The downside to Vonage or MagicJack is that it requires your home internet connection to be running. No electricity- no phone. We do have cordless phones which don’t work when the electricity is out but we have regular $10 phones plugged into a jack on each level of our house just in case. Usually the just in case is that I didn’t charge one of the handsets and it starts beeping while I’m on a call. I work from home so I want a reliable service which also allows me to send & receive faxes. There is lots of technology out there to accommodate not having a home phone, I just think in the end it’s not as reliable of service and by the time you set up all the gadgets to replace your phone, it ends up costing the same.

Plus when I ground my son off his cell phone, I can turn it off and put it away and still call the house to check on him when I’m out and know he has a method to reach me or 911 in case of an emergency. If the cell phone is their only phone connection, it’s hard to ground them off that.

shaggy

October 12th, 2010
8:49 am

MJG,

It would seem that ABC’s at least, are still being taught, right?
That is the only “skill” needed to use a phone book. I am willing to bet that a kid can use a phone book if tasked, even though they have never needed to use one. They are kind of user friendly. A-B-C-D, etc…

Michelle

October 12th, 2010
8:52 am

Wow! We haven’t had a home phone for YEARS! We got rid of it in Indiana several years ago! When we moved to GA, we had one for about a year, then ditched it again. We haven’t had one for about 5 years now! No problems.

As for doing things around the house on the cell phone, get a blue tooth headset…they work great! Then, put the phone up high enough the kids can’t reach it!

If you take “every” scenario that “could” happen into account, you will worry yourself to death!

Lori

October 12th, 2010
8:57 am

I’m not ready to cut the cord either. My cell phone is MINE. I don’t want to have to give that number out as my main contact number. Then I’d start getting calls on that number I don’t want. I don’t want my son’s friends calling my cell phone. My husband is always on his for work, so it would end up being my phone that gets used as the “family” number. NO WAY!!

Lady Strange

October 12th, 2010
9:02 am

I have not had a land line phone for about 4 years and don’t miss it at all. My mom still has her’s though, though she mostly just gets calls from telemarketers on it. And I believe you can still call 911 from a land line phone even if you don’t have service.

Hey, Michelle...

October 12th, 2010
9:03 am

…that is Theresa’s M.O. – worry, worry, worry….

Hey, Lady Strange...

October 12th, 2010
9:05 am

…please explain how you can call 911, or any other number, if you have no service – inquiring minds want to know…

Alecia

October 12th, 2010
9:08 am

We had bad cell phone reception and fixed it with an extender. We bought our extender through Verizon and have not lost a call since. Also, the calls are much clearer. We just dropped our landline and purchased a new phone with the old number. So far we have not had any problems. Teresa-Did you ever think about a cover with a clip? Placing the phone on the edge of a pocket might be better than hanging up on people with your cleavage.

TechMom

October 12th, 2010
9:10 am

@Lady Strange – I know you can call 911 from any cell phone, even without service but if a home line is disconnected and has no dial tone, you cannot. Certain areas force local phone companies to offer this service (and we wonder why the fees on landlines are so expensive??) but not all phone companies do this.

JATL

October 12th, 2010
9:11 am

@Lady Strange -if you have no land line service -there is no dial tone -nothing. Not sure how you’re going to dial 911 if the phone company has no service at all to your home.

For those “poo pooing” the info about 911 -seriously -this has happened to me 3 times where my 911 call was routed to the wrong county’s 911 service and had to be re-routed (and it takes long enough to get a 911 call through anyway sometimes without this hassle). While, thank God I’ve never had a true emergency, our local police tell us to call 911 for EVERYTHING -car break ins, suspicious people in the neighborhood -all of it, so we do use 911 on occasion regardless of true emergencies.

KAW

October 12th, 2010
9:11 am

FYI — the FCC required that all cell phones have a GPS solution in their handsets. Most carriers are using a solution that will allow the 911 center to locate them within 50 meters.

JATL

October 12th, 2010
9:12 am

@TWG -last comment lost in cyberspace…

Michelle

October 12th, 2010
9:15 am

As far as 911 “finding” you…like another poster said, they can come within a certain distance to determine your location. Things you can do to help are have someone stand outside to flag them down, open the front door, basically, just make it obvious that your house is the one calling!

motherjanegoose

October 12th, 2010
9:16 am

LOL shaggy …have you ever worked with kids in school?

NO… ABCs are not the only skill needed to use a phone book. My own husband is awful at the phone book and usually exasperated ( sp?) when I have rarely handed him one. He is quite intelligent and just read a schematic to locate and change a fuse on our dryer as the heat was not on. I know how to use a phone book but could never do this. We have different skill sets here!

catlady can you put your two cents worth in on this one…do we need to know how to use a phone book and do kids know how?

motherjanegoose

October 12th, 2010
9:17 am

@ michelle…our address was not even on our block a different street completely…not sure if we could flag someone down who was not even on our street…it made me nervous!

Greg

October 12th, 2010
9:18 am

@shaggy: I actually only have one phone hooked up to the X-Link device, so there isn’t any confusion about lines overlapping. I usually keep my personal cell phone in my pocket even in the house, too. It is definitely not cheaper to have a land line phone instead of the “house” cell phone since that is just another line on my family plan. $10 vs $30+ is a definite savings. With just that one cell phone it is very handy to have it ring all the phones in the house when I did have a real land-line.

Jeff

October 12th, 2010
9:25 am

As far as 911 goes, I have a question:

We have a fee on our cell phone for 911 surcharge. What do we get for that? The police can track us with our cell phone signal if we were to commit a crime, why can’t 911 do the same? Why do we accept this?

Hey, Jeff...

October 12th, 2010
9:34 am

…se KAW’s explanation above…

DB

October 12th, 2010
9:37 am

We got rid of our land line last year — it’s been GREAT! It got to the point where the only people calling me was my mother and telemarketers. I changed my mom’s speeddial, so now she can reach me whenever she needs me, and I don’t have telemarketers.

Since the whole family is on cell phones, using the landline to call a family member actually cost us minutes, because otherwise, we can call amongst ourselves for free.

As far as learning how to answer a phone: It’s sorta like a button hook — will they NEED to learn how to answer a phone in five years? If the phone in your pocket is your own personal communication device with it’s own personal voice mail, it’s not like you’re ever answering it for someone else. It’s not a hard skill, so if they need it in an office, it’s an etiquette skill that is easily taught.

Hey, Jeff...

October 12th, 2010
9:37 am

911 service is just that – an emergency service that gets you immediate attention, even if the responders have problems locating you – 911 is the router of information, and with the GPS locator in the cell phone, the first responders CAN locate the phone, just like the police and NCIS can do with tracking the cell phone of criminals…

shaggy

October 12th, 2010
9:41 am

MJG,

Hubby has forgotten his ABC’s, oh my!
Pray tell, and be specific, what other “skills” are needed for using a phone book? I am not commenting on your experience with kids in school, “just the facts ma’am”.

Greg,

OK, the device sounds interesting, if you need a famly plan. We do not, so I have commented beyond my experience.
Wanna use my Andy Griffith phone? It’s a blast. We sometimes pretend that “Sarah” is connecting the call for an uninitiated kid asking to use the phone…before giving it to them to use. They usually look very puzzled, but very interested in the history of the phone, when put forward in a fun way.

Wayne

October 12th, 2010
9:43 am

Verizon has a new phone that you can get; I forget the actual name of it but you can have a base station that uses cellular, with up to 4 or 5 handsets. You can set it up as a Family Plan phone so, what, $9.99, and you have all the benefits of cell, but have your cordless phones throughout the house. Couple of the VZW people I meet with monthly were going to get them for their houses. I’ll have to check to see if they did it or not. I’m thinking of it as I can save some bucks. Only problem I have is calling internationally as we have family out of the country. Probably use some kind of card/minutes for that.

Wayne

October 12th, 2010
9:46 am

@Shaggy: you reminded me. When we first moved into our old farmhouse, it has a rotary dial phone in the kitchen. The previous owner said it was their version of a cordless phone. I looked at them quizzically until he picked up the receiver and then proceeded to walk all around the kitchen and dining room, into the living room. The handset cord was huge!

BlondeHoney

October 12th, 2010
9:47 am

When I’m not traveling for business I’m working from home most of the time so wireless only won’t work for me; I’m on conference calls all day long and I need to fax sometomes as well. In fact, I like the flexibility that having both cell and landlines give me. Also, the previous poster from coastal Florida has a VERY valid point about power failures; all of you who have Vonage, Magicjack, etc as soon as your power goes out there goes your phone, too. I remember going through Hurricane Andrew and landlines were the only thing working even though no one had electricity, some for weeks. I’ll keep my landline, thanks :)