Have you been interested in lowering your phone bills? There are affordable telephone options that can lower your monthly bill without sacrificing talk time by turning your Internet connection into a functioning phone line. I called Kris Robinett, deputy field marshal for the Geek Squad from Best Buy, for advice. Here is what you need to know:
Skype (www.skype.com): Create an account and download it to your computer. Skype offers free services (including chat, Skype-to-Skype calls and video calls) and pay-as-you-go or unlimited calling plans for $2.99-$13.99 per month. Cool features include group video calls. Both parties must have high-speed Internet connections for it to work best.
magicJack (www.magicjack.com): You don't need a computer if you use the premium service. It offers free services such as call waiting, directory service and voicemail. It costs $39.95-$69.95, plus shipping and handling, and includes a year of local and long distance calls. Some international calls are free. Fees apply for certain extra features. You can purchase an additional year of service for $19.95-$29.95 or a five-year plan for $13.99-$19.95 per year. You can keep your original phone number, and you also can get an app to make phone calls when you don't have cell service but do have Wi-Fi. One downside is the lower-end magicJack requires your computer to be on in order to use your landline.
Jajah (www.jajah.com): Requires no software and works on phones and computers. You need an Internet browser and/or mobile or landline phone. You register online and get a local number to use. It's free to sign up and offers a free five-minute trial call. Charges vary per country called. There are no membership fees or fixed monthly rates.
A Savvy Deal
Every Saturday in January, the Center for Birds of Prey is offering two admissions for the price of one (normally $12 for adults, $10 for ages 6-18 and free for 6 and younger). Call 971-7474 or visit www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org.
Reach Shannon Brigham at firstname.lastname@example.org.