This week I dropped my phone. Let’s be honest, I drop my phone at least once a week. I’m clumsy and phones are slippery, it’s a dangerous combo. My phone has survived it’s weekly dropping for two years, but this was the death drop. My first major concern when I figure out my screen was no longer functioning was, how am I supposed to get up for work in the morning??? No, it wasn’t an existential question of whether life is worth living without a smartphone, but instead a decidedly more practical one. How does one wake up without an alarm clock? After rigging up my laptop with several online alarm clocks, I fell into a nervous sleep. After (miraculously) waking up on time the next morning, I was finally able to face the reality of the situation – I was going to have to buy a new phone. Bummer.
The next day after work I drove around and figured out my options. My first stop was Apple, where they told me it would be $129 to replace the screen. Next stop was my service provider, where they told me it would be $99 to replace my phone with insurance (which I thankfully have). These were both reasonable and affordable options for me, but I thought I might as well look into a new phone. This is when things got crazy.
Thanks to the latest release of the iPhone 6 upgrade, I was hopeful the original 6 would cost less. I’ve had my 5c for exactly 2 years, which meant I was ready for an upgrade (or so I thought). It used to be when you signed a contract with X cell phone provider you received your iPhone at a major discount in exchange for signing a 2 year contract. If the iPhone retailed for $500 you got it for $250 or $99 or something. It worked the same way when your two year contract ended. You were then eligible for a phone upgrade. Sure it hurt to throw down $250-$99 for an iPhone, but you knew you were getting a major deal. This is no longer the case. This time when I went in and said, “Hi, my contract ended, I’m ready for my upgrade,” they said, “Great, you can get the iPhone 6 for just $18 extra on your monthly bill for the next 24 months.” I didn’t have calculator (no phone) and I’m terrible at math so I borrowed a phone to do the math (I’m not proud of this). My immediate reaction was, “Hold up, I will be paying $432 for this phone????” The savvy salesman was like, “No, no, you only pay $18 a month.” I’m not the most intelligent person, but I could see what was going on here. No thank you.
I chose to replace my phone for $99 through insurance. They gave me a slight upgrade to a 5S, but it was a refurbished phone so I’m not sure it was much of a win. In the comments of my last blog post a reader accused me of making decisions in the present that will come back to bite me in the future. She is right. I do that all the time. Should I suck it up and pay to have the surgeries this year? Should I have bought a brand new car so it would be less likely to break down? Should I just buy the more expensive phone because (in theory) it will last me longer? I don’t know the answer to the first two questions, but I’m pretty sure the answer to the last question is NO. I don’t care about technology. I’m a luddite at heart. I always will be. Sure, I’m addicted to my smartphone but not because it has 3D/thumbprint/retina scanner/words-I-don’t-understand technology. I’m addicted to my smartphone because it helps me streamline my life. I can get where I’m going without worrying if I’m going the right direction. It helps me do simple math because I studied to pass math, not remember it, in school. My phone helps me remember what I need to buy at the grocery store and what appointments I have later today. I just need a phone that works. Maybe I’ll regret this decision in a year. It’s possible I will, but for now this was the cheapest option to get my life back in order. Plus, we all know these phones are built to die after a couple of years anyway. That’s the thing with addictions, it doesn’t matter how jacked up the system is, you keep buying into it because you’re hooked.
Jasmin is Vice President of Marketing & Operations for Pete the Planner®. Jasmin runs special projects, manages programming for clients, and stews over new and creative ways to engage people with their finances. In her downtime you can find Jasmin hanging a light fixture or painting a room at her fixer upper.