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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?

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.

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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.

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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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