Graduated Learning: Life after College

Personal Finance, Parenting, and a dash of Science

The Cell Phone Post November 11, 2010

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 9:03 pm
Tags: , ,

Yes, I feel it’s time I reveal something about myself.   I’m not completely financially independent.

Okay.  I’m pretty much financially independent.  I’m still on my parents’ “family plan” cell phone plan.  We made a deal a while back that I would pay for my trips home (from college) and they’d continue to pay the $10-15/month for my phone.   Well, that’s pretty much how things have been ever since that conversation.   And I’d be completely fine paying them the cost of my phone line, but they’re okay with covering it.   I’m also pretty sure it would cost more for me to have my own service because I wouldn’t get the “additional phone line for $10”.   But I could probably try getting a corporate discount.

Leading up to my last birthday, my parents told me that they’d like to buy me a iPhone for my birthday.  I know, how generous of them!  But I felt weird about accepting this gift.  I already have an iPod (a classic 5th generation 30GB beauty) that gets the job done.  So I don’t need another mp3 player.  And I already have a phone (free with a 2-year contract…which is fine given that I’m sticking with a cell phone).  So my initial though is that I’d like having an iPhone for looking up restaurants and checking email when I can’t get to a computer.  And I’m interested in some of the helpful apps out there.  So I guess it would be a convenience thing.  Here’s the deal:  Besides the upfront cost of the device, there’s the monthly data charge.  And that won’t go away.  I honestly am not sure how much data I’ll end up using.  Apparently AT&T has a handy dandy data estimator, so I can guess how much I’ll use.  But I know there’s at least a $15/month minimum data cost.  Not sure yet if I’d end up needing more.  At any rate, if my parents paid for it, I’d feel guilty.  And if I paid for it, I’d feel like I’m throwing money down the drain.

I know lots of people use an iPhone and love it.  And plenty more have other smart phones that they can’t live without (ahem, “crackberry”?)  And  I guess many people today just assume the monthly expense for using it is just what you’re stuck with.  But this reminds me a bit of the Marketplace Money interview a while back about a couple that didn’t even realize how much they spent on entertainment/digital bills until they sat down and added it all up.  Many people find they can’t live without all these different forms of media.  And it also reminds me of coworkers who talk about how they have to get the new HD television.  Then of course that means paying for the higher cost HD cable access.  Then you wouldn’t have such a nice TV without getting a Blu-ray player, would you?  And so the incremental expenses really start adding up.  Plus you get locked into requiring monthly access to the technology that makes the rest of your technology useful.

At any rate, when I finally looked up the details for getting an iPhone, it turns out that because I had recently (within the past year)  replaced my last free phone when it suddenly stopped working with another free phone, I was not eligible for an upgrade.   So, the cheapest available iPhone would probably cost at least $200 extra if I bought it now, instead of holding off until it got cheaper in July 2011.  While $200 isn’t a lot, it’s also not nothing.  Plus I’d be paying for the service the whole time.  And to be honest, I was fed up with AT&T about the whole confusing/misleading pricing model (it seems like it’ll only be $99 until you enter your info, then the price goes way up).  So I decided to hold off for a bit.  And so far, I’ve been fine with it.  I still think iPhones and other smart phones are pretty cool, but I’m doing just fine without it.

iPhone questions for you:  Have you taken the plunge and committed yourself to a smartphone?  What do you like about it?  Or are you holding out as long as possible to your plain old phone?

Are you completely financially independent?  Or are there any teeny tiny things your parents still pay for?


8 Responses to “The Cell Phone Post”

  1. SP Says:

    I got a “not so smart” smart phone (ie, a few years older still) and I do like it for finding out info while on the road.

    Also, I’m still on my family plan, and only this year began paying my share. Ha!


  2. I’m on my parents still! I pay them every month. I even have a data plan and everything. It’s ridiculously cheaper. Probably saves me around 100$/month.


  3. You will probably need the next plan up from the 15$ plan, fyi. My brother has that plan. Also, you can get a 3gs iphone for cheaper than the iphone 4 (unless they have stopped that), but I don’t know why you would want to do that since you can get an android that can do everything an iphone 4 can for the same price as a 3gs.

    Something a lot of people are doing to get around the data plan for androids at least is cancel the plan after a month or two. It’s only required that you have the plan for a certain number of months, I believe. So what they do is turn off the 3G data and use wifi only since most of the time you are around wifi anyway. This doesn’t help you when you are in your car but it may at the very least knock you back down to the 15$ plan. Wifi does consume more battery than 3G, however.


    • Stephanie Says:

      I was looking at the 3gs at the time, even thought the iPhone 4 was already out. Even that one was way more expensive than advertised when you enter your information.

      You’re an advocate for Androids, eh? What do you like about them?


  4. I’ve had a smartphone for a few years, and I have to say that I don’t like the iPhone. It was a smart shiny toy for the first couple months, but I don’t use 90% of the functionality it has — I really just check email, use the calendar, and use it as a phone. And I hate using it as a phone, so that sucks. I’ve had a number of frustrating experiences with it resetting all my apps and losing all my data which is apparently unusual but has happened to me at least three times. It makes for a very expensive toy that’s harder to use than my Palm was and less customizable than my husband’s Droid.

    When I replace it I will probably go with another smartphone, but definitely not another iPhone.

    I’ve been 100% financially independent from my parents since college. Even in college, they wouldn’t pay for my cell phone. :p


  5. I tried thinking about a smartphone but in the end I just want a cellphone that has buttons to do its job, and a separate PDA so that I can pass the phone off to BF and not be stuck waiting for him to finish.

    (We share a phone)

    I also find that I like to surf on a laptop not a small device and wireless anything like for twitter, doesn’t interest me. Too much distraction.


  6. Wil Possible Says:

    I am one old dude so it wasn’t until last year that I started using a Blackberry!!! WOW… now I am hooked. But it may be a while until I jump onto an iphone since I am not fond of touch screens. As for laptops I am totally in love with netbooks. Since they can be bought on sale for $200, I got a few of them. I call them disposable laptops 🙂


  7. I love my iphone. I’m addicted to the internet..! I think once you get the iphone youlll love it! You can get all of your favourite blogger updates.

    I usually use about 500MB data a month (or way less) especially since I have wifi.

    Unless you download a lot of videos on youtube or games, you probably won’t use that much data.


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