If you’ve been following the SF blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been on something of a cost cutting binge in order to excise as many cash flow leeches from my wallet as I possibly can.
This has been accomplished with some very easy frugal lifestyle substitutions and a few lesser known money hacks to reduce my consumerism without sacrificing quality or increasing my workload beyond noticeable levels.
Basically, it’s a self-imposed audit and continuing improvement plan to cut the fat out of my budget. So every month, I eliminate one unnecessary expense, overpriced service, or outdated technology. And let me tell ya… no brand is safe!
This month, my cost cutting crosshairs fell upon my old friend Vonage.
I’ve had a Vonage account for several years now. Since I’ve always had high speed internet service, Vonage always seemed like the logical choice since their service was more cost effective than bundling my home phone service with my cable TV/internet provider or going old school with a traditional landline from a Baby Bell like AT&T or Verizon.
So Vonage and I are a perfect match for life. Right?
In 2004… yes.
At the end of 2009… not so much.
Unfortunately for Vonage and the rest of the VoIP telephony providers, they’re using early 2000s VoIP technology and haven’t felt enough pressure (yet!) to lower their prices to rival their competition.
Since they refuse to change, I suppose it’s time to make a switch to this cool little gadget called MagicJack that will supposedly lower my monthly home telephone costs to $20 per year versus Vonage costing me around $300 per year.
I like to think I’m open minded enough to give any new technology a try without allowing my technophobic tendencies to cloud my judgment, and considering the potential savings of $280 per year, I decided to give this little MagicJack gadget a try.
I read the both the positive and negative reviews (no confirmation bias here), and I came to the conclusion that most of the people saying “MagicJack is a scam” are probably the same people who have a difficult time installing a new printer or using their DVR.
(Time will tell if my assumption was wrong because I’ve only had the gadget for 3 days!)
So I purchased the Magic Jack USB unit online for $39.95 plus $6.95 for shipping and handling, and it arrived around one week later.
Installation couldn’t have been simpler and took me around 15 minutes on my old Compaq laptop running Windows XP. All I did was plug the Magic Jack USB device into an open USB port, connect a cordless telephone, and it automatically did the rest.
Once it finished doing the self-install, I had to choose my new phone number. I had the option of taking a free random number from Magic Jack or pay $10 for a vanity number. Contrary to being the constant Mr. Cheapo, I chose to buy a vanity number. (Hey sue me – I may be cheap, but I still have a small vanity problem!)
After this, all I had left to do was setup my local 911 service, create my voicemail account, and cycle through half a dozen upsell choices for additional services (not fun).
Not exactly rocket science here, so not sure what all the fuss is about with MagicJack being difficult to install. Maybe it’s because it’s Windows XP instead of Vista, or I actually took the time to read the directions.
I’ve used the new Magic Jack telephone service a few times over the last 3 days, and I can’t detect a single difference from Vonage, a traditional landline, or any other mobile phone. All in all, it works perfectly fine and I’m happy with the service it will provide for the next 12 months at a cost savings of $243.10.
$300 – ($39.95 + $6.95 + $10.00) = $243.10
$Vonage – (USB Device & 1st year service + S&H + Vanity Number) = 1st year savings
Yes, MagicJack does have some limitations. If my internet service provider has a service interruption, I’m without a working home telephone. But the same problem presents itself with Vonage, so I’m gaining nor losing any added security.
With the added transportability of throwing the USB device in my laptop bag and the money I’m saving, I could care less if it’s 100% foolproof. I also lose the ability to call India, Brazil and Europe for free, but gee whiz, it’s not like I do that on a regular basis.
I could have also continued using Skype free of charge, and I’m sure I will because of the point and click convenience factor or the rare occasion when one of my friends wants in on the free video conferencing feature (Google Chat via Google Mail also provides this free of charge). The only problem with Skype is that it’s only free between Skype user to Skype user calls, and I really can’t see trying to convince my family members to chill out in front of the PC while they talk to me. The technology just isn’t mainstream enough for those who aren’t computer friendly or enjoy sitting at their PC for an entire telephone/VoIP call. So for now, Magic Jack just seems to fit my needs a little better than Skype and internet based telephone alternatives.
If I like the MagicJack service enough to recommend it to others, I’ll probably buy 4 or 5 additional units and give them away as gifts to family members. Collectively, that’s probably $1000 to $2000 in annual savings alone.
I’ll write up an product review at the 3 month and 1 year mark to give updates on the quality of telephone calls and any other reliability issues surrounding the Magic Jack unit.
Have you tried MagicJack?
Got anything to say about it? Good, bad, or ugly… I’d like to hear your thoughts.
~ ~ ~
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored review. I am not receiving affiliate income or freebie products for posting a semi-positive review. Just a satisfied customer sharing a story about saving some dough.
Photo by freephotos70