Because my job is part time, I may only see my boss once or twice a week. His preferred way to communicate with his staff is via text message. That was turning into a problem.
I don't text. Before I started at the mall Customer Service counter in July, I think I might have received less than a dozen texts and sent six. Last month I had 10 incoming messages (and responded to three of them). So far this month there has been a total of 16. Since I've never had a need for it, I don't have a texting plan on my phone. Individual text messages (both incoming and outgoing) cost 20 cents each, and the costs were adding up fast. My cell phone carrier (AT&T) only offers an "unlimited" texting plan for $20 a month. I didn't want to do that, either.
Enter Google Voice. Son Brian told me I could get a separate phone number that would allow me to send (and receive) free text messages. Yesterday I set up an account and started using it.
The first step was to choose my Google Voice phone number. The first couple I tried weren't available, but in the end I was able to get one in which the last four numbers spell out part of my last name. After I picked my number, I entered a forwarding phone number (the phone that rings when someone calls my Google Voice number); after verifying the number I was ready to go!
Google Voice is a computer-based program, but it has an app that works with my cell phone, which I downloaded. Then I sent my first texts...to my boss, and each of my sons. It was slow going; I make a lot of typing mistakes on the cell phone's small keyboard, but the auto correct feature helps out a lot.
Google Voice actually does a lot of things besides text messages. You can set it up to have multiple phones ring when someone calls the Google Voice number and pick up the one that's most convenient for you, have certain phones ring depending on who's calling, or switch phones in the middle of a call. You can also make international phone calls for rates cheaper than most carriers, and have have voice mails transcribed and read them online. Right now I don't know how much I'll be using them, though; it's a lot of work to get a new phone number out to everyone!