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The economics of having a landline phone: Pay $40 to $65 per month for a device that lets scammers and salespeople bother you at home. That’s the thinking that went into the decision my wife and I made to cancel our landline when we moved late last summer.

I read an interesting article in The Atlantic recently on how the decline of the landline is changing family life. A computer-science professor is quoted as saying that the shared family phone was an anchor for home life. Smartphones have given us mobility and privacy, “but the value of the home has been diminished, as has [the] capacity to guide and monitor family behavior and perhaps bind families more closely together.”

But landline phones also bring unwanted harassment into your life. For this, you pay substantial monthly fees. A question for households that are paying for both smartphones and a landline and looking to save money every month: Could you lose the landline?

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Smartphones are a relatively new household expense, and they can be quite the load for families. Cancelling your landline is a way to modestly push back. As for scammers and sales people, they can still reach you on your cellphone. But I find I get far fewer of these calls than I did on our old landline.

Give landlines their due: The sound is clearer, with no dropouts, crackling or dropped calls, and they do allow you to stow away your smartphone and all its distractions. Also, they’re much easier for seniors to use. But is the cost worth it in a world where so many of us also have smartphones? I say no.

Subscribe to Carrick on Money

Are you reading this newsletter on the web or did someone forward the e-mail version to you? If so, you can sign up for Carrick on Money here.

Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Debt and divorce

Who’s responsible for what debt in a divorce? This blog post from a non-profit credit-counselling agency will help guide you through this contentious issue.

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Retire early, die young?

A summary of research linking early retirement to early mortality and a decline in brain health. The answer seems to be staying active both mentally and physically after you stop working.

Advice for indebted students

You can skip over the advice to live frugally – I mean, isn’t that a given for students? – and head down to the useful tips for graduates on repaying their student debt.

Eight ways to get the best value in a hotel booking

Budget travel expert Barry Choi guides you through the process of getting a good deal on a hotel. On Barry’s advice, I’ll be checking out Booking.com.

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Ask Rob

Q: Canada has a growing debt problem. To whom do we owe the money?

A: To the individuals, pension funds and other institutional investors who own the bonds issued by our governments to finance their operations. Some bondholders are in Canada, but many are internationally based.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

Scroll down this page for a helpful briefing that demystifies credit scores.

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In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

  • Lower taxes, new RRSP rules and a digital-news credit among changes coming in 2020
  • Couple thinking of cashing RRSPs warned: ‘Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched’
  • Ten important questions to ask before buying a stock (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Carrick and money coverage For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group. Send us an e-mail to let us know what you think of my newsletter. Want to subscribe? Click here to sign up.

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