If you think paying for multiple, nearly identical services every month is a budget-buster, you're not alone. According to Bankrate.com, 26 percent of Americans agree. As of 2012, they'd ditched their landlines, keeping in touch with others by cell phone instead. The question is: Does this actually save money?
Difference in Cost
There's no doubt that getting rid of your landline would save most people some money – you'd be paying one bill each month rather than two. Exactly how much you'll save depends on what you're paying for your landline. If it's $20 a month, you'll save $240 a year by getting rid of it. If your landline has a lot of bells and whistles, such as call waiting, call forwarding and caller ID, you'll save more because you're probably forking over extra each month for all these little conveniences. In this case, dropping your landline could add up to a savings of $480 a year or more.
Cell Phone Perks
Cell phones are usually the more expensive phone service. If you're single and your phone is the only one on your cell plan, you probably pay at least $50 a month for your service. According to CNN Money, the average bill for a one-phone plan was $71 in 2012. If you have a smartphone, that may top $100. On the surface, it looks like you're paying more for the cell, but that's deceptive. You usually don’t have to pay extra for voicemail, caller ID or long distance on your cell as you must with your landline. If you’re paying for these landline extras, you'll save even more by just using your cell instead.
Your cell phone bill can ratchet up considerably if you've got more than one phone on the plan. If you, your spouse and your kids are all carrying cells around, your monthly bill is probably more than $200, according to CNN Money. One landline for use by all of you would be considerably cheaper. Of course, only one of you can place a call on the landline at the same time, and you can't answer your landline while you're waiting in line at the gas station, so you have to ask yourself what convenience is worth to you.
Most landline service providers don't charge by the minute for personal lines. You can gab with a long-lost friend all night if you like and it won't cost you anything more. If you do the same on your cell, however, you might be in for a bit of a shock when you receive your next bill. (Reference 4) According to CNNMoney, about 17 percent of cell phone users go over their plan minutes each month. (Reference 5) If you transfer your talk time from your landline to your cell, dropping the landline might not save you any money at all if you're paying minute-by-minute for everything over your limit. (Reference 4)
Before you drop your landline, contact the 911 service in your area to find out if your cell phone is capable of leading a response team to your location in the event of an emergency. Capabilities can vary, depending on where you live. Landlines typically provide 911 with an exact address for emergency response, whereas cells only give a general location. Your decision might not ultimately be about money – especially if you're only saving a few hundred dollars a year.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.