5 Reasons Why You Don't Need a Smartphone

January 2, 2013 | Posted By: David Bakke | Categorized in: Finance, Technology

These days, everyone's talking smartphones - the latest, the best, the fastest. Whether it's to look cool in front of your friends or because you think there's an undying need for 24/7, no-matter-where-you-are access to the Internet, the thought is that no one can get by without one.

As it turns out, there are plenty of reasons you don't need a smartphone and a standard cell phone will do you just fine. So if you're thinking of upgrading, here are five reasons to think again:

1. Smartphones Are Expensive

Though the iPhone 4s has come down a bit in price, if you want the brand-spanking-new iPhone 5, expect to pay a pretty penny. People stood in line for days to get one of these, and someone on eBay recently forked out $1,250 for the 64GB model. But honestly, is this worth it, when the portability is really all many of us need? That outlay could in essence equate to roughly four car payments - or well over one full mortgage payment - depending on your situation. Keeping up with the Joneses has its advantages, I guess, but should you really go into debt to do it?

2. The Plan Will Kill You Financially

When considering owning a smartphone, you might rationalize any cost increase by saying, "Well, the smartphone is free - I just have to sign a two-year contract." But therein lies the problem. While some carriers have seemingly attractive plans for top-of-the-line hardware, if you use the Internet or download a lot, the additional charges could kill you. A recent report said the annual data-plan cost for active consumers can run into the thousands. But even a modest data plan can cost over three hundred dollars per year. So you could go with a smartphone...or pay the majority of your auto insurance each year. You do the math.

3. You Got by Just Fine Before

Did you know that smartphones have only been in existence since 1994, and mobile phones themselves only became trendy in the mid '80s? It was huge news when we realized we could make calls on the go, and people flocked to the new invention. But just because a newer product hits the market doesn't automatically mean you need it. It goes back to the old adage: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

4. Distractions Affect Relationships

Sure, your smartphone can help pass the time when you're in line at the grocery store or waiting at the doctor's office, but what about when you're actually with a loved one, friend, or coworker? Doesn't it break your heart to see kids playing by themselves at the park while their parents sit on a bench with their fingers clicking away on their phones? Or have you noticed couples dining out together but both are buried in their own cells? It's just rude. If your addiction goes far enough that it's dinging your relationships, maybe you should rethink your addiction to technology.

5. Technology Can Create More Stress

Truth be told, when I am away from the Internet, I'm happier. I'm online about 60 hours per week for my job, so offline, to me, is downtime. Many of us are online all day at work, but we forget that life is out there, yearning for our involvement. The time when you're turned off should be golden. Put a smartphone in your pocket, and you'll be plugged in 24/7. That's not as great as it's cracked up to be.

Final Thoughts

To be fair, there are a few instances where having a smartphone makes sense. If you're an Internet reseller, constantly looking for deals while out and about, it comes in handy. Smartphones also allow entrepreneurs to be fully mobile and thereby get more done in a day. But if that's not the case for you, you can generally get by without one. Who cares what other people think? When you have extra cash to pay down your debt, you'll be the one having the last laugh.

What are your thoughts on smartphone ownership?

Additional Resources

Grabbing Financial Stress by the Haunches!

Cut the Cord: How to Reduce Your Monthly Entertainment Bills

Simplify Your Personal Finances - Infographic

Infographic: Cost of being a N00b

3 Ways to Buy a House with No Down Payment in the New (Tougher) Housing Market


David Bakke writes about smart shopping, and tips for finding the best deals online on the personal finance site, Money Crashers.
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Comments
January 2, 2013 | Posted By: BenH
People got along without e-mail (for the most part) before the early-mid 1990s. We got along without cars before the beginning of the 20th century. We got along without proper antibiotics until the 1940's.

I'm not saying that we as a society "need" these things. But - as a society we have determined that we "want" we them and therefore they are to be expected of us (having them that is). More jobs than you suggest require being tuned in throughout the day - and having a data enabled smart phone is easier than lugging around a laptop everywhere (and depending on WiFi).

Sure, if all of society wanted to revert to the dark ages, let's do it. We will certainly solve the population problem with no medicine and the economic issues when we only have to spend defense money on catapults instead of rail guns.

I lived in the woods, out of a backpack for 6 months as did most people I encountered - and we were perfectly happy. When people don't expect you to be reachable 24/7, or be clean shaven, or even change socks daily then you can get by. However, many professionals these days are required to do those things - and carry a smartphone.
January 2, 2013 | Posted By: BenH
Just to clarify - if you are someone who a smartphone would "kill you financially" then you probably don't *need* one. And if your job requires one, they should be paying for it.

I see plenty of low-income urban dwellers surfing on their phones while paying with food stamps - so apparently the taxpayers will help you out if you can't afford it.

There are certainly ways to be smarter about your data plans and carriers. I also agree with points #4 and #5 above - but the same can be said for any technology.
January 2, 2013 | Posted By: BenH
Just to clarify - if you are someone who a smartphone would "kill you financially" then you probably don't *need* one. And if your job requires one, they should be paying for it.

I see plenty of low-income urban dwellers surfing on their phones while paying with food stamps - so apparently the taxpayers will help you out if you can't afford it.

There are certainly ways to be smarter about your data plans and carriers. I also agree with points #4 and #5 above - but the same can be said for any technology.
January 2, 2013 | Posted By: burkotron5k
Call & bug people to look up things on their computers for you, works for me, sometimes!
January 2, 2013 | Posted By: ComputeThis
I wanted a Smartphone but did not want to pay the huge Internet access bill that came without, if I went with any of the "Big Four" (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint). I scoured the Internet and I found a great solution for my delimma - Page Plus Cellular. I purchased a Smartphone for $100 and my plan is $30/month - way cheaper than any of the Big Four's offerings. I turn it off, when I need to remove the "tether" from the world.
January 2, 2013 | Posted By: Grablife
Point #1: Smart phones are expensive. Point #2: Smart phones are free. Which is it? Just because an idiot on eBay over paid does not make it expensive. Tens of thousands bought the iPhone 5 for4 $127 from Walmart.
January 2, 2013 | Posted By: WeekendAvenger
My smartphone cost's me $25 per month for 300 minutes and all the text's and data that I can use. How exactly is a non smartphone plan going to cost me less?
January 3, 2013 | Posted By: idacolombian1
What carrier do you have? I have 3 yep that's right 3 & now pay $269.00 per month 1400 mins unlimited data & text with VZW.... Oh so ready to leave them once my contract is up, when I worked for them for over 10yrs it was then affordable & now recently laid off so no more discount. Ugggh!!!
January 3, 2013 | Posted By: MarsdenFubar
The point is, either way you do it, the smart phone is expensive. If you buy a iPhone 5 with out a contract, it is around $700 (or more), which you can then activate on a couple cheaper plan (like the t-mobile $30 a month plan). If you get a "free" smartphone, it's still expensive, because they lock you into more expensive plans for 2 years to make that phone "free."

My wife is on a cheap dumb phone that I got for $25, and then I put it on T-Mobile pays as you go. It costs around $6 a month for the amount of minutes she uses. She doesn't use data, and texts very little, so it is perfect for her.
January 3, 2013 | Posted By: websta
Communication is not just part of a relationship; it IS the relationship. If you can communicate, you have a relationship. If you can communicate often and well, you have a good relationship. And if smartphones help to do that...
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