Cutting the Landline Umbilical Cord

August 1, 2008

Today is the day that I cut my landline umbilical cord. It’s the day that Verizon disconnects my business landline and puts up that “doo doo doo–the number you have reached” referral message that lets people know to call me on my new number instead. I guess I should have seen this landline umbilical cord-cutting coming.

When we first moved to this area nine years ago, we had four phone lines in our house. They were for: 1) home 2) my business 3) my fax 4) our dial-up. Then, within a few years, we made the leap to broadband through our cable provider, Comcast, and disconnected that fourth line.

Then there were three lines in the house.

When we moved into our new house in 2007, we decided that we really didn’t need to have a separate phone line for a fax, since I rarely sent–or received–faxes anymore. We reasoned that should I need to send one, I could just plug the fax line into the home line, and press send. So we didn’t reconnect that third phone line when we moved.

And then there were two lines in the house.

For the past year I’ve had the voice mail on my business phone set up so that any time someone leaves me a message, it automatically rings through to my cell phone–the message does, not the actual call that came before the message was left. That means that if I’m on the road or just out of the office and I need to return a phone call, I would use my cell phone. Soon enough I was going over my minutes on my cell phone plan because of how frequently I was using my cell phone for business reasons. At the same time I was rarely using my business line except to collect voice-mail messages, yet I was paying Verizon about $60 a month (just went up to $63 a month) for that second line.

Then I gave that interview to the Business Week reporter that outlined some of the ways we were going to cut back on our expenses to save money in our down economy, and in preparing my thoughts, I realized that paying for that second phone line just didn’t add up. Why would I continue to pay $756 a year for a phone line I rarely used? For $20 more a month–or $240 annually–I could increase the minutes on my cell phone plan to cover all of my business calls. So that’s what I did. My net savings for the year? About $510.

I just got off the phone with Verizon. It turns out that they have a special department set up to handle long-time landline users who want to “transfer” their service to their cell phone. (See this USA Today article on how many folks are just like I am–living on wireless alone, or nearly so.) Of course, the operator spent the first few minutes of the call trying to convince me not to give up my landline. In the end, we painlessly cut the landline, installed my cell phone number as the “doo doo doo–the number you have reached” referral number, and now I just hope that my regular clients call my old phone number in the next 30 days–the amount of time that Verizon will keep that referral message up and running. After that, my landline business number will just be disconnected.

And then there was one line in the house.

16 Responses to Cutting the Landline Umbilical Cord

  1. Bobby Walker on October 24, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    I don’t usually post on blogs but had to on yours. You have a very easy to read writing style. A lot of people don’t have that touch, they just drone on and on in the most boring way. But not you – thanks! Thanks again!

  2. […] worked for our Suddenly Frugal family: find the best phone plan for your finances, even if it means cutting a landline or combining your cable TV, Internet and phone service. By doing the latter, we saved $50 a month […]

  3. […] to Save on Phone Bills Jump to Comments Last summer I wrote a blog posting about how I was cutting my landline–that is, the second line in our home that I used for my business. My reasoning was simple: I […]

  4. giovanna816 on August 23, 2008 at 1:11 am

    My husband feels that we should go to an “only cell phone” existance, but I feel while our kids are young to keep a land line. I teach my kids in case of an emergency and mommy’s not available, or mommy’s sick – call 911. What happens when they can’t find my cell phone? So a landline with basic calling features is important to me – maybe one day when the kids are grown and gone….

  5. Leah Ingram on August 11, 2008 at 5:17 pm


    You’re no luddite. You’ve just got different priorities when it comes to phone service. That’s cool.

    By the way, can you share the link to your mom’s MSN blog? Would love to read it!

    Thanks for commenting.


  6. Abby on August 11, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    I never understood cutting a landline in favor of a cell phone — but then I’m one of those misers who calls up the phone company and says, “I want a phone line.” They say, “Great well we have this package for only $30…” “No,” I say. “I want a phone line. No voice mail, no caller ID. Just a phone line (and maybe call waiting.”

    Suddenly, the cost goes down to around $15 plus taxes. So a maximum of about $25

    We just don’t use the cell phone enough. In fact, we used it so little that my husband and I consolidated. (My mom is a resident manager and so we just kept the line in the family plan: $10/month.)

    I mean, I understand that freelancers need long distance; but my mom did freelance (before her frugal blog with MSN Money came along) and I think the most she ever spent on a line was around $35/month.

    I know people just LOVE caller id and think voice mail is a necessity; but most answering machines (even the no-name one my mom bought for a whopping $10 after rebate) have a remote-access option.

    But maybe I’m just a luddite.

  7. Leah Ingram on August 11, 2008 at 4:00 pm


    I’ve never seen this with these post cards. Any chance you have a link from the USPS website so I can familiarize myself with these cards? Thanks.


  8. MJ on August 11, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    the post office will sell you blank post cards for just the cost of post card postage. I used to send out weekly notices to team members in my direct – sales business this way. I’d print from my computer whatever message I wanted to send, then flip over and print all of their addresses on the other side. Great way to save MAJOR time (not hand-writing the message/addresses) AND money!

  9. Stefani on August 2, 2008 at 10:03 am

    I’m so jealous! I’ve been trying to get my significant other to give up our land line for at least a year now. He agrees but is “not quite ready yet”. He feels like he hasn’t informed everyone who would need to know. I’m not quite sure who that is since the only calls we get on our landline anymore are telemarketers. We have caller ID and literally never answer that phone.

    I’m going to look into how that referral message would work for us. Maybe that will help him.

    (And the 911 thing – didn’t even know to check into that!)


  10. iz on August 2, 2008 at 1:51 am

    I cut the landline totally, switching my landline to a voice over ip provider. I kept the landline for a few months until I was sure that it was going to work, then transferred my home number over. I have 911 on it, and I figure if I lose it, I always have the cell phone as a backup. Plus, I can use my home phone remotely wherever I have internet access. I even forward voice mails to my e-mail. Plus, it paid for itself in about 4 months or so.

  11. Leah Ingram on August 1, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Great idea on the postcard mailing! I’m going to look into that.


  12. Theresa in Mèrida on August 1, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Leah, why don’t you send out a nice note to all your clients with the change in phone number, if you make it be a Rolodex card, even better. Yeah, there are still people in this day and age that used Rolodex. You probably have saved enough money to do it. I’m sure you can figure out a green way to do it, plus postcards cost less than letters.

  13. Daisy on August 1, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    911 service is important. That’s the main reason we didn’t go to Voice Over Internet phone service. We haven’t been able to fully cut the landline because our cells do not get reception in the house. Daughter pouts the most over this.

  14. Leah Ingram on August 1, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Good point about 911. Do you know how I can check this? I’m pretty sure when I upgraded my last cell phone, it was because my old cell phone didn’t have 911/GPS-like capabilities. I should double-check Verizon’s website just to be sure. Thanks!


  15. Anonymous on August 1, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Cell-only users should check to see whether enhanced 911 service is available to them, in the event they are unable to give their location in an emergency.

  16. leahingram on October 24, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Thanks very much!

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