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?