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Why I Don’t Want A Smartphone

April 4, 2011 · 69 comments

in Personal Finance

The following is a guest post from Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS, who is editor-in-chief of Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance.com, where she writes to educate, inspire, and motivate for wealth in money and life.  Learn about personal finance from a real life Portfolio Manager!  Stop by the website and download a valuable free eBook, 20 Minute Guide to Investing.

As I recently mentioned, we are selling our home. Part of that process involves cleaning, organizing and getting rid of lots of stuff.  In spite of the fact that I don’t consider myself a huge consumer, El Carino, Jr. Carino, and myself have a lot of things.  After seven and a half years in this home, I’m embarrassed to say, we’ve accumulated a lot.  (From Kris:  I cannot imagine packing up and moving our house in the state it is in right now, I totally empathize!)

There’s a plethora of writing about how more stuff leads to more work. Get something new, first figure out how it works, then maintain it, and finally, fix it when it breaks.

Who wants more work?

In a previous article I wrote a controversial piece about Why I Don’t Want an IPad.  In that article, I compared the functionality of my laptop with an IPad and proved how superior the laptop is for my purposes.  This post will take the same approach to the ubiquitous smart phone.


My phone is a cheap LG model, about 2-3 years old. My plan costs $20.00 per month, has no annual contract, and is Virgin bare bones with I’m not even sure how many minutes per month.  And guess what, I use my phone to make and receive calls and an occasional text. That’s it.  No internet surfing, game playing, movie watching etc.  In fact, my work and blogging requires an inordinate amount of time on-line.  For blogging, portfolio management, and everything else, I have a laptop and a desktop. Additionally, I’ve got a video camera and digital camera.  For me, that’s enough.

Therefore, I don’t need to be on-line with my phone too.  I don’t need to check my email when I’m away from the computer. NOTHING IS THAT IMPORTANT!

This is one area where I’m going to be behind the curve.

Look, I like technology as much as the next (can you say 2 facebook pages, twitter, quora, and all the other social media accounts?). But when it comes down to my time and money, I must weigh my options.

TIME-As I said before, I’m online too much as it is. Don’t need a phone for that!  Cheap, no contract phone works fine for calls and texts.

MONEY-Why should I pay upwards of $75.00 a month or more for a service that isn’t ultimately of value to me?

What do you think? Am I just a dinosaur or am I missing something really valuable from the new models?

From Kris:  I do have internet access on my phone, but I really don’t need it anymore.  (It did have a purpose at one time though.)  I also have an Ipad, and I will say that my whole family loves it.  However, that is a topic for another day!

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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Niki April 4, 2011 at 7:46 am

I too, have a dinosaur of a phone. My husband makes fun of it all the time, he has a nice one through work. I’m sure if I had one I would love it, but i really don’t feel the need for one.


Barb Friedberg April 4, 2011 at 8:08 am

@Niki-Totally agree!! I’m certainly not saying that these android phones aren’t cool… they certainly are. I’m just going to hold out a bit longer 🙂


Nicole April 4, 2011 at 8:33 am

We’re old-school too. I’d rather not be that reachable, personally.

Maggie doesn’t even have a cellphone.


Barb Friedberg April 4, 2011 at 3:39 pm

@Nicole, I totally agree. I’m not a huge fan to being accessible 24-7. Also, not a big phone talker.


Linda April 4, 2011 at 10:28 am

I have a smartphone. My work pays for it — both the phone itself and the data plan/minutes — because I am then more accessible. I’m expected to split out the personal use costs and not charge those to my expense account, though, so it typically costs me maybe $20 a month. If my work didn’t pay for the phone and get the service at a deep discount I’d have to think long and hard about getting a smartphone, though. My friends who have iPhones or Android smartphones all seem to pay about $100 a month for service. Yikes!


Barb Friedberg April 4, 2011 at 3:40 pm

@Linda-For $20 bucks a month, I’m in 🙂


Squirrelers April 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Personally, I have a smartphone. For my life, it’s been quite handy and worth the investment overall.

Having said that, if it’s not a necessity for you at this time, then why spend the money? Seems like you’re doing what makes sense for you, which is the smart way to go. No need to keep up with the Joneses, even in the realm of technology.


Barb Friedberg April 4, 2011 at 3:41 pm

@Squirrelers, I love your response. It is so “on the money.” I am addicted to “not keeping up with the Jones,” but doing what works for our family.


Crystal @ BFS April 4, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I’m of the mindset that you should never buy something you don’t need or want. So no smart phone for you, lol.

My husband on the other hand really wanted a smart phone for 2 years and I was cut off from my blog email the whole day while I was at work, so we just recently took the VERY expensive plunge. We spent $450 on two Samsung Epics and raised our monthly bill from $70-$80 up to $150. Thanfully, it’s come in handy a bunch of times and I make the money back and then some by being able to close blogging deals and network from anywhere.

In short, hold off as long as you can because it is as expensive as heck!


Barb Friedberg April 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm

@Crystal-I totally get your decision, and I would not be happy being limited in my internet access during the day! Enjoy! And of course, when making money, you also must spend some along the way!


krantcents April 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm

My wife and I must be dinosaurs too! I don’t want 24/7 access, because I am in front of a computer for an average of 70 hours a week. I think that is enough for now.


retirebyforty April 4, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Haha, we both have a dumb phone too. I am just too cheap to pay for the monthly bill.


Jenna April 4, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Hahaha, I’m actually heading out to update my smart phone to another “smarter” phone today! I think it depends on how social / public you want your life to be. For me, I love having access to Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare as well as internet access. It makes traveling so much easier for me.


Barb Friedberg April 4, 2011 at 3:45 pm

@Krantcents and @ RB40, I’m glad to have company as I come our of the “cell phone closet.” Like most pf decsisions, what works for one, may not work for another!
@Jenna-Absolutely, I’m not a hugely “social” person, and my time on line is enough with the computer!!!


MoneyCone April 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I’m sure some have a need to have a smartphone. For me, I can use the $60 towards something else. I have a dino-mobile and I’m quite satisfied with it!


Lindy Mint April 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm

My smart phone, like Crystal, helps separate my work life from my blog life. If I didn’t have that need I probably wouldn’t have bothered either.

It is handy though for looking up driving directions on the fly, or entertaining my children when we’re in a public place where they need to be quiet.


Yakezie April 5, 2011 at 3:13 am

Once you go Smart, you never go back! Borrow a friends if you can for a day. They are amazing! Especially if you travel to work and elsewhere a lot!


First Gen American April 5, 2011 at 7:35 am

I have a blackberry that my work pays for. I lost it due to a job change for about a year and I bought a regular ol phone that came free with my phone plan. I went through withdrawals at first (I did like my address book tied to my phone), but I quickly got used to not having it. Blackberry’s internet access is so slow I never use it.

I don’t think my husband even had a cell phone at all until a couple of years ago. He didn’t want to be that accessible at work.


Barb Friedberg April 5, 2011 at 7:49 am

@Yakezie-I have no doubt I would love smart phone!!! They seem so cool.
@First Gen-I do think having address book organized on phone is a really cool feature.


Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer April 5, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Hold off as long as you can. Every one of my friends who switched to a smart phone would never go back to a regular cell phone.

I love mine, but plan to switch to Virgin Mobile soon as their plans are much more reasonable than the big guys.


Barb Friedberg April 6, 2011 at 7:50 am

@KayLynn-That is exactly my thoughts, it’s not about liking it, it’s about spending the cash! I like Virgin’s pay as you go no contract philosophy.


Mike - baby stuff April 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm

I’m with you Barb. I have internet access all day at work and I have a laptop at home so I can’t see spending all that money just so I can have internet on my phone. If I was on the road all day I might thinking differently though.


Barb Friedberg April 11, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Hi Mike-Yea, one more in my camp. I’m feeling less like a neanderthal with each supporting comment. Thanks for chiming in!


John November 6, 2011 at 10:53 pm

For me, it’s a bit of a different story. I’ve downloaded a few apps to help track a few of my projects (and the time I spend on them), my diet, to do lists, and workouts. While I’m also online for quite a bit, I do enjoy the convenience of being able to track my productivity with my smartphone. So, in my case, it’s well worth the money and, in terms of price, I’ve definitely got my money’s worth with the added boosts in productivity and health.

– jp


Kris November 7, 2011 at 8:25 am

John, you are right, there are so many great apps out there,and they are getting better and better. Personally, ‘words with friends’ is becoming a time suck for me, but gosh I love Scrabble! 🙂


Bongo November 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Yea yea, you can choose not to buy, blah blah blah. That isn’t entirely true.

For example, it’s Nov 2011 and my service provider only offers TWO classic chocolate-bar format phones (both Nokia). The rest of the 20-or-so devices it offers all either have a full keyboard, a slide-out keyboard or touchscreen. The majority of which have some kind of emphasis towards social apps, data and multimedia of some kind.

So, potentially, at some point in the near future, if I have to buy a new phone, I may be forced to buy something that has all kinds of bells & whistles. The only option given to me is whether I want data access or not… that’s obvious. But I’m still forced to buy a phone at a certain price point, which all of this fluff. Even though I may not use it, all the fluff gets in the way by BEING there physically on the device or virtually in the experience of using the phone. For example, a menu system, selection of options or series of icons I have to scroll through because it’s crowded with RHETORIC.

Really, I’ve been fine with my Nokia 6300 for 4 years now. My only complaints:

#1 — I wish it was an 8mp camera with a better lens and maybe auto-focus. Technologically, this is possible. I use the camera once a week, it feel it’s important to me.

#2 — I wish that grouped contacts would not be shown in the main contact list. When I put someone in my “Soccer” group, I just want that name to appear only in that contact folder. Instead it appears twice… once in the main list, and once in the contact group. So if I want the ability to group-txt, then it means I have a longer & messier main contacts view. This is simply a dumb software issue it would take a 2-3 hours for a developer to fix (I know because I am one).

PS I’m looking forward to DIY phones of the future, open-source based. You choose the components, you assemble it. Install the software, that’s it. Really if you think about it, most of the gimmickery of phones and the marketability is with the software. That door is now ready to be open with Android.

I see the whole data/social/multimedia thing is all one big circus and I don’t any of it. Just texting, phone calls and camera for me, thanks.


Kris November 17, 2011 at 8:06 am

Bongo, you are very right about how we may not have a choice. It makes sense for the service providers because they force that 30 dollar a month data plan on you. Not so great for us consumers though.


april d January 9, 2012 at 12:19 am

I’m the mom of 2 small children and everyone I know has a smart phone and they spend a ridiculous amout of time checking every little beep that comes in. I see my other mom friends not in the moment with their children while at the park, play gym etc. and it’s so sad. Like you said, “nothing’s that imortant”.


Barb Friedberg January 10, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Hi April, Yea, I just don’t get it. When my daughter was young, I had a cell phone, for emergencies. Like you my focus was on being there with my daughter.


Paul January 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I don’t need most of this technology. My phone is an old Razr at over 6 years old. It does all I want and more that I don’t (Idon’t think I have ever taken a photo with or even know how) I want a phone that sends and receives calls, sends and receives texts, stores numbers and can do this from anywhere in the world and connect with any network system (even Korean ones). Nothing else. I don’t even want it to connect to my laptop unless it is a means of charging it.

I hate this attitude that everything must have a silicon chip in it. Why does my room thermostat need a microprocessor? The rotary variable bi-metallic strip worked wonderfully well and was easy to repair (if it ever failed). Simple is reliable. That’s the problem. There is nothing reliable about microprocessors, they are the biggest failure points of anything the are in, from your fridge to your car. The makers love them just for that purpose, it costs you a fortune to have them replaced or repaired. That is why they are forced on us, so the makers can screw even more money out of us. Making something reliable is not good for business. Wrong it is, as more customers will buy a reliable product than an unreliable one.

I’m a dinosaur and proud of it.


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