Tag: Finance

magicJack review

Recently we replaced our existing home phone service that was provided by Time Warner Cable with magicJack.  We have been using it for a few months now so I have enough experience to report how it works.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Works with my desktop pc and plugs into our home jack just like time warner cable did to provide phone service to all phones in our house
  • Mostly good sound.  Sometimes things break up but I would say it is about 75% as good as TWC but much much cheaper
  • Fax machine works OK with it

Cons:

  • Sometimes you have to pick up the phone 2x to get it to give you a ring tone
  • PC has to be always running (not a con for me since I always leave my PC on anyway)
  • Have to restart it every few weeks which is fine since I usually reboot my PC  that often
  • Sometimes when people call, they can hear us but we cannot hear them.  Calling them back always works fine
  • 1hr time limit on calls.  magicJack disconnects you after you make a call that goes over 1hr.  You can dial right back but it is still annoying
  • Tried some add on software to keep it from popping up but it stopped working after a few weeks
  • Tried magicRingForever but sometimes it would fool my answering machine so I stopped using it
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Switching to AT&T U-Verse from Time Warner Cable

Well I finally gave up on Time Warner Cable.  We moved into our current house over a year ago and when we did we got a “welcome back” deal from TWC because we were switching back to TWC from DirecTV.  We had TWC but left because their rates steadily increased.  The straw that broke the camel’s back was when they incorrectly billed us repeatedly for over $400 in incorrect fees and only offered to credit our account instead of actually refunding the cash.  After that we left TWC and went to DirecTV for a couple years but after the first 2 years DirecTV steadily raised their rates too.  When we moved into our current house we left DirecTV and went back to TWC.  The package we had was $127 for turbo internet, digital tv with 2 DVRs and unlimited home phone.  After the year rate ended the price shot up to $185.  I dropped the phone and downgraded the cable but the bill was still $139.  Then it went up to $145.  Then it went up again to $150.  It just went up again to $154 for turbo internet and digital cable (no movie channels) with 2 DVRs.

I finally got fed up.  Today I signed up for AT&T U-Verse with Max Internet (12 Mbps) and U200 (~280 channels) with 1 DVR (records 4 channesl at once) and 2 other receivers that can play recorded channels from the DVR (3 rooms total) for $104/mo for the first 6 months and then $129 after that.  I also should get $125 in prepaid visa cards for signing up online.  There was a $29 install fee.  So if you do the math it works out to:

104 X 6  months = 634
+ 129 x 6 months = 774
+ 29 install fee
- 125 in gift cards
= 1312 for the 1st year with AT&T U-Verse
vs. 
154 x 12 months
= 1848 if I stay with Time Warner Cable

Savings next yr with AT&T instead of TWC is $536 (or $44.66/month)

I did concede to the TWC rep on the phone today that AT&T will probably raise their rates and eventually I will decide to leave them too.  By then TWC or DirecTV or Dish or WOW will be willing to offer me a nice deal and I’ll probably switch again.  It stinks that you have to leave a company for them to treat you as a valuable customer.  After we left DirecTV, I got a flyer from them every other day with a nice deal if I would come back.  I guess absence does make the heart grow fonder – when it comes to TV providers missing ex-customers.  My hope is that by the time AT&T raises their rates too much, I can switch to Net Flix + Hulu or something similar.  I tried this time but several of D’s favorite shows are not available on any streaming provider.

Tax Prep

I’ve been working on my taxes in the evening hours over the last week or two.  Preparing for taxes is getting easier each year but it is still a pain.  I wish my credit card companies would provide a yearly csv export so I didn’t have to go download the statements each month.  My previous credit card company offered that but they were purchased by another company that doesn’t offer that.  The same goes for my bank accounts.  PayPal offers an annual export of all information so why can’t banks and credit card companies?

Tax Time

Geez.. today I realized it is tax time again.  I have not done any prep work yet so I still have a good 8 hours of prep work ahead of me I think.  I really don’t feel like doing it 😦  Tax time stinks.

Life Insurance

I recently bought some more life insurance for myself. I want to know that D and the kids are taken care of if anything bad happens to me. When I was filling out the paperwork I learned 2 cool things about my policy. First, they will give you some money before you die if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness (if you want it). This money could be used for experimental medical treatment or just to make you comfortable on your way out. Second, even after the policy term ends they are still required to sell you insurance if you are willing to pay their predetermined rate. The rate is 6 times more than during the term but if you knew you were dying soon it might be worth it to keep paying. Good stuff.

Stimulate This

As I did my taxes this year, the tax software mentioned that I would be getting money back as part of the economic stimulus package that the federal government is offering. I just can’t help wondering how little it will do for the economy. People will take the money and pay down debt or buy more gas or buy stuff made in China. None of those things will do anything to help stimulate the economy. Maybe I don’t have the keen financial mind of a Washington insider.