Reviewing phone and internet accounts ... just because

17 April 2010
I heard myself say this on radio the other morning: "Being thrifty is not about large amounts. You rarely make those large savings. It's more about constantly looking to save small amounts because over the course of a year, those small amounts become your large savings." When I finished the broadcast I thought about what had popped out of my mouth and that I should practise what I preach. I decided to review my phone and internet bills.

We've have had the same internet provider for many years - Optus. They've provided us with years of reliable service and apart from bumpy downloads because we lacked speed, we've been happy with them. On the other hand, we weren't happy with our phone company. We've had our account with them for a bit over two years and although we have a $29.95 account, we pay for all calls and when our bill arrives it's usually around $70. With the phone and internet combined we were paying $120 a month and still restricting our phone calls a lot.

After about one hour research online, we decided on staying with Telstra but increasing our bill to an Ultimate plan - $89.90, but with unlimited local and interstate calls, reduced calls to mobiles and either five cent or two cent/minute international calls. Adding the internet to that bill and bringing over our account from Optus gave us fast broadband with double the gigabytes for two dollars less than what we'd been paying. It's not much in savings but the plan we're on now is much better value for money. That's what you look for with these essential services; it's not so much the savings, although you do want them too, it's more about the value you get for your hard-earned dollars.

So we've now got a phone account that will allow us to call our relatives and friends either free or for a much smaller cost than we used to pay and we have doubled our internet download allowance and it's much faster. And all that for two dollars less than we used to pay. These occasional reviews of how we spend money are an essential part of living well within the confines of a small budget. Don't forget to look at how you're spending your money on these long term accounts. Technology is moving ahead rapidly and what you paid a premium for when you first took on that account, might be old hat now. It's worth a bit of research and talking to your account providers - they will not want to lose you as a customer. If you do your research, phone them with a polite attitude and ask for their advice, you may be surprised to find savings or better services there, or both.

It doesn't take much to make me happy, I'm on the verge of it every day, but yesterday as I worked at my voluntary job, I kept thinking about this phone account and how it would allow me to phone my sister whenever I felt like it. She lives a thousand kilometres away and in the past we've rationed the calls. Just thinking about it gave me a really warm feeling and as soon as I got home yesterday afternoon, while Hanno was still cooking our dinner, I phoned Tricia ... just because I could.


  1. This makes me smile. I am so happy that your family connections can be more frequent because of this change.


    Becky K.
    Hospitality Lane

  2. This is such good advice. The past two years we've reviewed our budget and cut out nearly $10,000 (US dollars). Enough to get our mortgage paid off in the next twenty months without too much fuss. We've switched all of our insurance policies to annual payments saving $200/year .. just for example. To see our entire list of cost savings, I've made a permanent list on the sidebar of my blog ( Enjoy your extra calls to your sister!

  3. I have a fixed rate internet and phone package which covers domestic landline calls and pay 1 euro extra per month in order to have calls to international landlines for very low rates. I could pay more to have a flat rate internet package but I decided to go for the 1 euro plus low rates package and after the first couple of months reviewed it to be sure that I wasn't phoning internationally so much that it would be cheaper to switch. I find it very interesting to review my actual bill and see who I am spending the most money on talking to as well. And then trying to figure out ways to phone them for less. And so I try to never phone my brother from home as he only has a mobile phone and calls to mobile phones tend to be very expensive here. He, on the other hand, can phone my Irish mobile phone for free while I only pay a one-off charge of 80c to receive a call on that phone here in Germany - so I have the slight nuisance of having two phones on the go but it saves me a lot of money. If I want to phone him I can send him an online text and he will make the actual call.

    One day we'll all be skyping but until I figure out how to get the camera and microphone working, I'm always happy to come up with cheaper ways to talk to people far away.

  4. It´s nearly bedtime here Rhonda but I sneaked a peep at your blog. Have you ever checked out Skype? They provide telephone services via Internet - IP telephone service it´s called here. If one Skype subscriber rings another there is no charge - even internationally. We ring very little so we still have our traditional telephone service but we do live video calls via Skype. Modern PCs usually have an inbuilt webcamera - or you can buy an attachable camera pretty cheaply. You then load down the free programme from Skype and connect to the other Skype user - who also has a webcam of course. We really made good use of this when my son and grandchildren lived in Norway for a year. Sound, live pictures (not always great quality) and all for free! Now they have returned to Sweden so now we use it for free video calls to relatives in England. Can of course be used locally or nationally But Skype to Skype users = no charge. You may want to check out the Skype. com website. Oh, you would need fast internet speeds - broadband really.
    Best wishes from Sweden
    Ramona K

  5. I am off now to look into the deal you have mentioned. My sister and her family are moving away and I would love the freedom of free calls whenever I need them. And some savings on our bill would be a lovely bonus as well. Thanks for sharing your find. Hope you and Hanno have a lovely weekend. Cheers Deb

  6. I am always looking for those "little" savings were ever I can.Like you said in your post it adds up over a year.I just found chicken feed for $5 less per #50 bag and straw bales for $3 less,I will be saving $8 a month a yearly savings of almost $100. I can do a lot with that $100.


  7. Your on point in this post Rhonda, is the little things that make the difference! We hooked up skype & can now call anywhere free. We got rid ofthe house phone 2 yrs ago as cells were much cheaper

  8. Hello everyone. Yes, we have been using Skype for a number of years but I find you have to tee up times with everyone and it's not as spontaneous as I would like. And you can only call people who have broadband and Skype. I do love the free calls though and being able to see everyone.

  9. We've been looking at switching from Optus to another internet provider. Currently we're on a 20 GIG plan, which seems like a lot but with 4 teenage boys who download lots of music and tv shows, it just isn't enough. I'm tired of rationing the internet.
    We can get unlimited internet for the same price I'm paying now.
    You've spurred me on to do something about it.

  10. I only really use Skype to keep in touch with my father (lives in London) so it's a good way for him to see his granddaughter and not feel like he is missing too much.
    We were also on a $29 home phone but when we added our calls the bills were mounting up very high!
    We both went on plans for our mobile phones, capped at $29 and now use themm for all calls. It is cheaper that way and our phone bills are now back down to where they should be.
    The internet is a big issue though! We want to lower our plan, but they charge a $200 fee. If we cancel with them and switch to another it is $400!
    We know we will save that money over time it is just having it to start with!
    Thanks for this honda, we tend to forget about the little things sometimes. Out of sight, out of mind!

  11. We have the same plan and find it great as my 89 year old Mum lives with us full time and her brother and sister both in their 80's live far away and this way she calls them every day(I suspect sometimes twice lol) but it does not matter as the bill is always the same,our children are far away also so I can call whenever I like.Enjoy yournew plan and your lovely sisterly chats.Carole

  12. I do this too. It really pays off to make the time to question all expenses. I renegotiate my telephone and internet (car and home insurance etc) every year. I wrote about it here:
    I list my methods for getting the best price. I hope it helps someone else. (I'm in Canada....)

  13. I'm always on the look out for savings to keep our spending within budget.

    Historically telephone charges in Australia have always been quite expensive. We changed over to an IP Telephony (bundled with our internet connection to Internode) which removed the need to pay line rental to a company on a month by month basis.

    Using the internet for our phone, has been a cheaper move. We have 50 free phone calls per month and then charged per phone call above that at 18cents per call, unlimited time within Australia. Before we switched to IP Telephony (Internode) our phone bill was approximately $65 per month. Now we only get charged for excess phone calls above the 50 call limit - we very rarely go over the limit. Due to Australia's size and small population this is a great deal!

    For international calls we use Skype - which is free via the internet, with the advantages of video to video calls.

    Happy calling!!!

  14. Funny you should say that! I just went the other way, finding Bigpond unresponsve, expensive and just plain ornery (see blog post) so am now with Optus. I don't know about you and your readers, but I find the maze of 'plans' with three hundred dollars of free calls for nineteen dollars, or half price between certain hours or free to certain numbers so mind boggling I would rather they just quoted the lowest price per minute possible for all calls so I could understand my usage and buget accordingly!

  15. Rhonda I have an absolute mental block about phone accounts, it riles me so much that they can't have a straight forward option instead of plans. However, that's how it is. Thanks to your prompting I have noted doing such a review before the end of the month. Thanks.

  16. Hi Rhonda,
    With bigpond don't forget to check how much it's going to cost you if you go over your download limit. Optus doesn't charge any extra just goes slow, where as bigpond charges per download.


  17. Good post! It IS important to check out those "little things" that might not make a big savings at once,but over time will certainly help!!
    Enjoy your new phone plan!! Just knowing you can call your sister as often as you want is wonderful...yes?!

  18. Great post, Rhonda. It is the "little" things that made a big difference.

  19. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I recently did this with our phone,DSL and cable.I cut 60.00 a month off our bill and then we did away with cell phones whicg saved another 65.00 amonth. We got a prepaid cell phone to have when we are out which cost us very little. I can find a lot to do with 125.00 a month.

  20. We have done little tweaks like this, as well...and it *is* nice to know that you are getting better service for the money you are spending! :) Things like that make me soo happy too! :)

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  21. We did this recently with our private health insurance. We now have hospital and ancillaries with the new place for less than we were paying for hospital only with the old place.

  22. Hi Rhonda

    You can also load credit onto Skype and call people on normal landlines with it.

    We use it to call my husband's family in the UK and Canada. To call Canada, UK and Australia costs about 3 cents a minute. I put on about $20 a year ago and have still got about $5 left.

    Price list for international is here -

  23. I'm currently looking into all this but it is so confusing and overwhelming for me.

    We pay $130+ per month just for home phone and internet. We have prepaid mobiles which we put $30 into sometimes once a month sometimes every 3 months...just depends if we've been using them.

    It is scary to make the change to move to another provider as it is so hard to tell if you will be better off, and there are so many fees involved. Wish it was simpler!
    There is an Aust website called that has ALL the info but still there is just too many companies and too many deals.

  24. Hi Rhonda jean
    I hear you loud and clear I recently tweeked my phone and broadband and went from £55.00 to just over £25.oo and I get my broad band for free also I got a discount of 1/2 price line rental for 6 months as I was already customer of theirs, I have blocked preimium calls and also mobiles(we get a good rate mobile to mobile) but i can phone my 0845 and 0870 numbers for a small fee incorporated into the new price.
    if anyone wants to know the company please asl me

  25. Hi Rhonda
    Do you have a mobile phone that you could link to this deal?? We are currently on the Ultimate deal you mention, but were offered a discount because we had other services with the same company. Would be worth asking the question!!

  26. Thank you for reminding me that in 6 months my current contract with Optus expires. For now I am happy with the service we have but things may well change.

    Every little thing helps.

  27. That's great, Rhonda! You've inspired me. I have a music download account that I haven't taken advantage of in months, yet I pay for it every month. I'm going to get what music I can, and then cancel the account.

    I would love to get rid of the satellite TV as we watch it very seldom, but DH is absolutely against getting rid of it. I personally see it as $60 per month I could do something productive with.


  28. Tracie, it's the same as we have now with Optus, they slow your speed if you go over.

    Victoria, they're charging us 2c a minute to UK, USA and Canada.

    Reyna, we have two services with them - phone and internet. For $30 we're getting fast ADSL and double the download we used to have.

  29. Rhonda

    Wanted to come here to apologise I didn't realise your email address was in my work folder so you got the email I sent out today and of course you had no clue who I was. Have removed it now sorry again.


  30. That's fine, Daisymum. It disturbs me a bit when I get emails like that from people I don't know.

    :- ) No harm done.

  31. Yes, Rhonda; I think all of us get comfortable with our accounts and just don't review how we might do better once in awhile. It is a wise thing to do, and whilst making your own dishcloths and soap might help, it is minimal compared to serious saving such as having to pay greedy companies for real services that we all need.Television here is expensive. I remember when we all had free air waves and could watch many programmes with a pair of rabbit ears! Now there are so many companies that offer special packages, but they are all expensive. Even basic cable costs to get the news, and is required here. No more free television! And the newspapers charge a lot, too.

  32. Kinda like the saying would you rather have a million dollars or a a penny doubled everday for a year! I think the little things are KEY to living a thrifty life!!

  33. We also look twice to our phonebills. At first we had free calling at evenings and weekends, now we also have free calling all the time. Now I pick up the phone whenever I want to, day or evening. Really love not having to think twice and looking at the clock if I am allowed to call. And as you said: for a little bit more in price.

    Nice you can call your sisiter now as much as you want to.

    Love from Holland,

    Mama Monique

  34. I bit the bullet and did this back in February, changing both phone and Internet to another all-in-one provider. I was SO nervous as the Internet is my main way of staying in touch with my husband when he's at sea and I'd hear mixed reports of my new supplier (Talk Talk). However, it all went very smoothly and I'm saving over £20 a month which just makes me smile every time I think of it. It took a few hours research and a few calls to call centres to try and get my current providers to come down in price (no go) but, considering I'm a SAHM, the £20 a month saved will pay easily for that "wasted" time spent researching!


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