VoIP http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/623/all en-US Living Without A Landline http://www.wisebread.com/living-without-a-landline <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/living-without-a-landline" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/rotary dial phone.jpg" alt="rotary dial phone" title="rotary dial phone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I had been thinking about shedding my landline for a while. I was attached to the convenience for a long time and, more recently, unlimited calls for one price in the United States. What I wanted most from a landline, though, was reliability; but, for me, neither the cable company nor the traditional bell company could deliver. So, after more than four decades, I cut the cord. Here&rsquo;s how I&rsquo;m getting along without a regular phone.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"><b>Finding the cell phone.</b> Being able to find my cell phone on demand has been my biggest challenge. The landline was useful for calling and locating my phone. My regular&nbsp;phone was always in the same location, attached to a wall in my kitchen, so I didn&rsquo;t have to worry about finding it. Not being able to find my cell phone is especially troublesome if I am home alone. So, I make it a habit to make sure I always know where my phone is, and if I know my&nbsp;teenage son&nbsp;might be home for a while alone, I make sure his&nbsp;phone is&nbsp;turned on and easily accessible.&nbsp;This process may sound like a lot of trouble but at the rate that <a href="#reliable_service">my&nbsp;real phone was out</a>, I needed to do this anyway. (Apparently you can use Google's <a href="http://lifehacker.com/software/cell-phones/find-your-cell-phone-with-google-maps-clicktocall-226988.php">Click-to-Call feature to locate your phone</a>&nbsp;though I haven't tried this yet).&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Giving out the home phone number. </b>My cell phone number is my home number, period. Whenever I fill out forms that request my home number, I list my cell number, even if it means&nbsp;listing my cell number twice (once in the home phone section and then&nbsp;in the cell phone section). I remember hearing from someone who said that she didn&rsquo;t get recorded announcements&nbsp;from her child's&nbsp;school because she didn&rsquo;t have a landline; no worries, the school calls me on the cell phone/home phone. I have found this method more reliable than using my home phone, because the message goes directly to me. Before,&nbsp;my kids might answer the&nbsp;phone and by the time I reached the phone and started listening to the message, the call was nearly over.&nbsp;With my direct, rather than family line, I get the messages I&nbsp;need.</p> <p><b>Getting numbers changed.&nbsp;</b>The first two places&nbsp;that I notified about my new&nbsp;number&nbsp;was my kids&rsquo; schools; I wanted to make sure I&nbsp;was reachable&nbsp;for any urgent needs, which is one reason that I&nbsp;had the phone in the first place.&nbsp;I&nbsp;hadn't considered all the places that my home number was listed at first, but there are lots of them. Some changes I&nbsp;made online and some were made by notifying service providers of the&nbsp;change (places to update include&nbsp;the bank, dentist's office, and library).&nbsp;In regard to the phone directory, no change was needed as my&nbsp;home number&nbsp;has been unlisted for several years to avoid telemarketing calls, pre-dating the do-not-call registry.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"><b>Keeping it charged. </b>Before I switched to my cell phone full time, I used it so infrequently&nbsp;that I charged its battery just once every couple of weeks. When I started using it more regularly because I didn&rsquo;t have the landline, such as making after-hours client calls that lasted an hour or so,&nbsp;I found that I needed to charge it more often. Now, I charge it after making a long call.&nbsp;I am planning on getting a solar charger just in case the power goes out (my neighborhood has underground utilities so losing power has happened just one or two times in the last 10 years; also, I live within walking distance of services).</div> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"><strong>Staying in touch. </strong>Most of my friends communicate on a day-to-day basis via email so changing my number wasn't a big deal:&nbsp;I&nbsp;just emailed and let them know to use my cell&nbsp;number.&nbsp;Maybe it's because we keep differing at-home&nbsp;hours and can contact each other at odd hours without disturbing dinner conversation or keeping someone from an important task&nbsp;but&nbsp;email has superseded phone contact.</div> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"> <p><b><a name="reliable_service">Getting reliable service</a>. </b>Until recently, I had considered the traditional landline as the most reliable for phone service. I grew up using rotary dial phones in basic black; though analog wasn&rsquo;t exciting, it never failed even when the power went out.</p> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">After VoIP technology had been around awhile, I decided to try digital phone service from the cable company so that I could save on long distance calls, which I make frequently to my family and out-of-town clients. (Technically, the digital phone may not be considered a landline but my phone was connected to wires and not wireless.) There were often outages for no apparent reason; these interruptions didn&rsquo;t seem to bother the cable company but they disturbed me.&nbsp;And when city workers accidentally cut the cable when they were repairing a drainage pipe in my front yard and I lost phone service for a couple of days, I started to rethink the redundancy of a landline and the reliability of the digital phone. After another misstep by the cable company (sending out a repair crew, unannounced, to make a repair to previously working&nbsp;phone&nbsp;that rendered the service unavailable), I decided to go back to the regular landline.</div> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">Or, rather, I tried to go back to the regular landline. I never received the phone service as requested. The initial installation didn&rsquo;t happen as planned and the tech guy who asked me to call him never returned my calls (I called 3 times over the course of a week; apparently he was sick but didn&rsquo;t transfer his calls to another service person). A trouble report provided to the service department was cleared without being resolved. The service failures continued with every communication, made via cell phone. I didn&rsquo;t want to pay a premium price for such&nbsp;unresponsive service, so&nbsp;I&nbsp;cancelled it.&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">One of my primary concerns about not having a landline was not being able to contact emergency services; however, the phone still has a dial tone and will allow me to call 911, and GPS capabilities in cell phones allow pinpointing of callers' location regardless of where the caller is at home or elsewhere.&nbsp;(For more on 9-1-1 services, see <a href="http://www.fcc.gov/pshs/services/911-services/Welcome.html">FCC&nbsp;website</a>.)</div> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">&nbsp;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"><strong>Exploring&nbsp;<a href="http://www.skype.com/">Skype</a>.</strong> Now that&nbsp;my cell usage has increased, I decided to explore more communication options that might offer even&nbsp;more&nbsp;convenience and cost savings. Though I&rsquo;d heard of Skype, it sounded somewhat geeky for someone like me who was not even an expert on&nbsp;cell-phone features. But after hearing about it from an acquaintance who uses it&nbsp;to call her family in Poland,&nbsp;receiving a client call from Costa Rica via Skype (the reception was amazing), and following a discussion on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/forums/lifehacks-personal-development/what-phone-option-use-work-phone-4362.html">the forums</a>, I decided to check it out. I downloaded the interface and tested it for free, ordered a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000VEMNQO/ref=nosim/?tag=wwwwisebreadc-20">headset with microphone </a>from Amazon using a gift card, and found it&nbsp;simple and&nbsp;intuitive to use. Instructions are in plain English, not bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo&nbsp;with misleading verbiage. You can make calls for free if both the caller and recipient have signed up; if not,&nbsp;you can buy credits or get a subscription ($2.95 per month for unlimited calls in the U.S. plus options for worldwide calling). If you want a fixed&nbsp;number and features such as voice mail, you can buy a number in the area code of your choice.</div> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">There are many ways to configure your own&nbsp;telecom plan, depending on your personal situation, work set-up, and lifestyle. If you&rsquo;re at home a lot and your family lives nearby, you might opt for a traditional line and use a prepaid cell phone (see Linsey&rsquo;s post on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-i-still-dont-have-a-cellphone-plan-yet">reasons she doesn't have a cell phone plan yet</a>) or if you&rsquo;re married and work at home, you could try one cell phone only and a two-way radio (Myscha explains <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/four-tech-products-that-save-you-time-and-money">how to use tech items&nbsp;to save time and money</a>). But if you happen to have a cell phone set-up (prepaid plan or contract)&nbsp;that meets your needs, dispensing of&nbsp;a&nbsp;landline could&nbsp;save at least&nbsp;$25 every month and $50-80 per month&nbsp;for a&nbsp;business line.</div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/living-without-a-landline">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/solve-problems-study-and-brainstorm-using-mind-maps">Solve Problems, Study, and Brainstorm using Mind Maps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/spice-up-the-conversation-by-skipping-what-do-you-do">Spice Up the Conversation by Skipping &quot;What Do You Do?&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-cutting-your-landline-is-a-bad-deal">6 Reasons Cutting Your Landline Is a Bad Deal</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-appreciate-lifes-everyday-moments">7 Ways to Appreciate Life&#039;s Everyday Moments</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/looking-for-answers-in-life-heres-your-key">Looking for Answers in Life? Here&#039;s your Key...</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Lifestyle cell phone cutting the cord landline skype VoIP Sat, 21 Mar 2009 16:03:03 +0000 Julie Rains 2946 at http://www.wisebread.com $10 billion tax refund for long distance phone http://www.wisebread.com/10-billion-tax-refund-for-long-distance-phone <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-billion-tax-refund-for-long-distance-phone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000039578366_Double.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>Note: This tax refund was available for long distance service paid for between 2003-2006.</strong></p> <p>If you paid for long distance phone service in the last three years, you are eligible for a refund of the U.S. federal taxes paid on that service. The government estimates that up to $10 billion will be <a href="http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=161506,00.html">refunded to consumers</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Recent court decisions have declared that the taxes should not have applied to long distance service as it is billed today. Refunds are offered for taxes paid on long distance service between February 28, 2003 and August 1, 2006.</p> <p>The refund is only for long distance service, but if your phone bill bundles local and long distance (and/or other services), you are eligible. This refund is available for landline, wireless/cellular, and even VoIP/Internet calling plans!</p> <p>To make the refund calculation easier, the IRS has created a tiered standard payout system based on historical data:</p> <ul> <li>One exemption &mdash; $30</li> <li>Two exemptions &mdash; $40</li> <li>Three exemptions &mdash; $50</li> <li>Four exemptions or more &mdash; $60</li> </ul> <p>To claim the standard refund, you fill out one additional line on your Form 1040, 1040A, 1040NR or 1040EZ. If you don't need to file a return, you can still claim just the standard refund using the 1040EZ-T form.</p> <p>However, if you want to determine <em>exactly</em> what you are owed and get paid interest on those monies, fill out and attach Form 8913 to your tax return. (And you better have those old phone bills to back up your claim.)</p> <p>The IRS recommends using the standard refund amount rather than gathering all those old phone bills:</p> <blockquote><p>The standard amount is based on actual telephone usage data, and the amount applicable to a family or other household reflects taxes paid on long-distance or bundled service by similarly sized families or households. Using this amount may be the easiest way for taxpayers to get their refund and avoid gathering 41 months of old phone records.</p> </blockquote> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/greg-go">Greg Go</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-billion-tax-refund-for-long-distance-phone">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ring-ring-ka-ching-lying-about-your-telephone-tax">Ring. Ring. Ka-ching! Lying About Your Telephone Tax</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxes-on-irregular-income">Taxes on irregular income</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-are-your-chances-of-getting-audited-by-the-irs-your-guess-is-probably-wrong">What are your chances of getting audited by the IRS? Your guess is probably wrong</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-the-irs-doesnt-want-you-to-know-about-them">6 Things the IRS Doesn&#039;t Want You to Know About Them</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes cell phone IRS long distance phone refund taxes telephone VoIP Fri, 26 Jan 2007 03:18:04 +0000 Greg Go 221 at http://www.wisebread.com