If, like many Americans, you would like to keep your plain old phone service, there are still ways to keep your monthly bill from escalating. The first and most obvious way to ensure that you aren't paying too much for your home phone service is to shop around and make sure that you get the best available deal. Long gone are the days when there was just one phone company. With the rise of competing technologies, new phone companies have entered the market in many places, and in many cases, they all offer something slightly different.
The next rule of thumb is to make sure to sign up for the plan that best suits your needs, because special features like long-distance calls, call-waiting and even caller ID account for much of the recent price increases for home phone service. If, for example, you only plan to keep the phone plugged in for emergency use, it makes sense to downgrade to the most basic phone service available, so that you can avoid all of those "hidden" fees. On the other hand, if you plan to spend late nights chatting with a friend or family member across the country, you'll be much better served with an unlimited long-distance plan.
Another way to avoid getting hit with a hefty home phone bill is to simply use it selectively. Many cell phone plans offer free long-distance calls and unlimited calling on nights and weekends. If you have both a cell phone and a home phone, you might save money by paring your home phone service back to the most basic plan available, and to use your cell phone for long-distance calls [source: Karp]. If you don't own a cell phone and only make long-distance calls occasionally, consider using phone cards (which can be purchased at most gas stations, pharmacies or grocery stores) to make long-distance calls.
Of course, cell phones and calling cards aren't the only tools you can use to supplement your home phone in order to keep the price down. With the proliferation of Internet telephony, many free options have emerged that enable you to make free long-distance and international calls (if you don't mind sitting at your computer as you chat).