Downsizing Archives

Ooma vs Magic Jack VoIP Phone System

Ooma Telo

Ever heard of Ooma? I hadn’t until I read about it in the May 2011 issue of Consumer Reports. So here’s a money-saving tip for seniors. You simply buy a base (adapter) like shown on the left and on one side you connect it to your router or modem and on the other side you connect it to the base station of your landline phone. Your calls will be going over the Internet so you do need Internet service and you do need to register with Ooma online, but once you do that, you do not need to keep your computer on like you do with similar services such as Magic Jack or Skype. I’ve not tried Ooma, but I am a fan of Magic Jack and Skype.

The downside is that the base costs about $200 at amazon.com. That’s the lowest price I found in checking prices at cnet.com. You do have to pay for taxes and fees each month, but after testing several zip codes, it was only $3.47. The Ooma Web site provides a tax calculator for you to input your zip code. According to a review at PC World, the pros of Ooma are the free local and long-distance domestic calls and excellent sound quality, but the cons are that the advanced calling features cost extra and the long-distance calling does not include Canada. But according to their Web site, you can call 70 countries for less than a penny per minute.

Personally, Magic Jack has worked very well for me. You simply insert it into a USB port on your computer and plug your phone into the jack on the Magic Jack adapter. Unlike Ooma, your computer needs to be on in order to talk on the phone. However, what I really like is that even though your Magic Jack is not plugged into your computer, people can still call you and leave a message. You will then be notified by e-mail if there’s a message and you can listen to the message via your e-mail. Once again, Amazon had the lowest price of $36.70. The first year is free and thereafter, it’s $20 a year for calls in the United States and Canada (Canada is a long distance call with Ooma).

If you are considering either of these services or any other service, be sure to do your due diligence before making a decision. But the services that use the Internet like Ooma and Magic Jack are definitely worth considering.

 

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Downsize Before You Need to Get Rid of Stuff

It’s amazing how easy it is to accumulate stuff – clothes, toys, electronics, kitchen gadgets, books, garden pots, children’s artwork, articles you’ve cut out of magazines, and papers of all kinds.

Do you remember the very first time you moved as an adult? I was just out of college and moved to Washington DC taking everything with me on the train. That was many years and many purchases ago. My last two moves involved hiring professional movers (who moved 55 boxes of just books in one of those moves).

Recently I spent a couple of weeks in Wisconsin helping my dad move into assisted living. Neither he nor my mother had accumulated a lot of stuff. When I was growing up, our home was never cluttered, and as Dad got older, he still kept the house clutter-free. Even so, there was a lot of stuff to go through (there were many, many closets).

When I returned home, I resolved to revert to my every-five-years habit of pretending I was moving and getting rid of things. Things I haven’t used in years, that I wouldn’t want to have to pack, and to pay to have moved, and to make room for if I were moving to a smaller space.

I have a few clients who live simply in 600 sq foot spaces. I envy them. Wouldn’t life be a lot simpler without all this stuff? The more we have, the more we have to take care of, the more we have to dust (or move out of the way so the cleaning people can clean), the more we have to push aside to get to stuff we need.

January is Get Organized month. This is a great time of year to get rid of things you no longer use or love. Gather those unused items and donate them now! If you itemize deductions on your tax return, make sure you get a receipt.

Go through your winter clothes. Someone out there could really use that winter coat, or nice warm sweater or business suit you no longer wear.

I’ve already started working on my downsizing. (I downsized those 55 boxes of books many years ago.) I took a dozen items to a consignment shop last month. I’ve got three bags of clothing ready to donate, two boxes of papers ready to go to the shredder, and four boxes to go to recycling. I feel great!

There’s a side benefit of downsizing – you make room for new things to come into your life that are important to you now, rather than giving space to things that were important to you 20 years ago. Just don’t go overboard and bring in more than you got rid of! If you have things to donate and don’t know where you can take them, call or e-mail me at 703-742-9179 or Susan@BalancedSpaces.com and I’ll give you some ideas.

Downsize your schedule too. Don’t overbook your social calendar. Leave some time for yourself – to just relax.

© 2009-10 Susan Kousek

Susan KousekThis article was written by senior Susan Kousek, Certified Professional Organizer (CPO), who works with clients in their office and home to declutter their space and set up systems to stay organized. She also offers workshops on organizing and time management. You can sign up for her mailing list to receive organizing tips like this by e-mailing her at Susan@BalancedSpaces.com.

Susan Kousek, CPO®
Balanced Spaces®, LLC
Reston, VA
Susan@BalancedSpaces.com
www.BalancedSpaces.com
703-742-9179

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