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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 ExpensiveThough 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 FinanciallyWhen 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 BeforeDid 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 RelationshipsSure, 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 StressTruth 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 ThoughtsTo 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 ResourcesGrabbing Financial Stress by the Haunches!Cut the Cord: How to Reduce Your Monthly Entertainment BillsSimplify Your Personal Finances - InfographicInfographic: Cost of being a N00b3 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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