We’re always looking for ways to save money here at Caveman Cash, and today we’re going to go over some of our favorite tools for saving money on calls. Some of these are going to be familiar names that you probably know and love, but we’ve got a few hidden gems that can save you a fortune, especially if you’re calling from abroad.
Skype has been around probably longer than any other video chat application, but that doesn’t mean that it’s covered in dust and cob webs. In fact, since Microsoft bought Skype a few years back they have been working furiously to integrate it with more of their offerings. If you’re a Windows user, it comes pre-installed on most machines as well as being available for Apple and Android phones. It can do both video and voice only, and you can dial a phone number (landline or cell) although that will cost you a few cents per minute. Skype can be a bit of a data hog in video mode, so you need to either have a lot of data or be on wifi. One issue with Skype is that if you have multiple devices sometimes it is hard to get Skype to come through on the right device – often it will start ringing on your phone well before it does on your PC. Not digging Skype? Try Google Hangouts or Facetime as alternatives.
WhatsApp is awesome for doing text messages both to individuals and to large groups. If you’re trying to organize a group at work, school, or for play it is a great way to get the word out without having to use email. It also has both video and voice calling modes. Both people need to have WhatsApp for you to use it, but it has a lot of reach. I like to use it to stay in touch with colleagues that are international because it gives you a way to call for free (using data/wifi). I recently needed to call a friend in Egypt and my cell phone provider charges $2/minute – with WhatsApp I called him for free.
Google Voice & Hangouts Dialer
Google Voice is one that not many people have heard of, but it is very powerful. Technically, you are supposed to use Google Voice to receive calls – you give people your Google Voice number and then set it up so that it forwards calls to all your other devices. This means you can give people one number and have it routed to your office, home, or cell… in fact it will even ring inside your gmail! However, what I love it for is making calls to other cell phones or landlines while abroad. If you have access to WiFi or Data you can pull up the Google Hangouts Dialer app and use your Google Voice number to call telephone numbers. Unlike Skype and WhatsApp that are often blocked in countries like China, the UAE, and Qatar your Google Voice calls will go through because they are on an actual phone line. You can dial the USA and Canada for free and many other countries start at just $0.01/minute. You can also dial from your gmail if you have Google Voice setup, making it a powerful tool.
This is one of my personal favorites when calling businesses while abroad.
My final advice is to not overlook a good old-fashioned conference call. There are many services today that offer local dial-ins from several countries. If you can be a little more coordinated this can help you cut the bills big time if you need to talk to people abroad. Services like FreeConference and PowWowNow give you a lot for free.
Office 365 & G-Suite
If you have a business subscription to a service like Office 365 or G-Suite you will have an app like Skype for Business or Google Meet which also provide you with more powerful tools like screensharing, conference call numbers, and the ability to link dial-in instructions to calendar invites. You may already have access to them through your company but just don’t recognize it.
Making international calls or talking to people while abroad sometimes can’t be avoided, and if you just pick up your phone and start dialing you can very quickly rack up bills of hundreds of dollars. You can avoid these costs with a little bit of advance planning and by using the wide array of tools that are now available both as phone apps and computer applications.
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