I’m frugal. I’ll readily admit that. And I’m absolutely ok with that. It means that I don’t need the latest and greatest thing. I don’t need the biggest and best simply because it is the biggest and the best. If I need or want something, I generally have a reason for it. Generally. That’s why I bought $19.99 running shoes at Costco hoping that they’d replace my long overdue for replacement $140 shoes that have the stuffing coming out the sides and have since the third week I owned them (thank you, Nike). Unfortunately, the shoes have essentially no support and are too wide, so they’re going back until I find another pair of running shoes I’m willing to purchase.
Electronics are another good example. I have an iP*d, but I bought it not because “ooooo, look, an iP*d! Everyone has one!” but because when I travel and bring my laptop or go to PTO meetings and have to record the minutes, my laptop battery doesn’t last long enough, so I’m constantly in search of an outlet. I do the same with my phone. We were one of the first to get rid of our landline amongst our friends simply because it seemed like an unnecessary cost to us. We’ve been happy for a decade without it. That said, I was one of the last of my friends to get a cell phone because I didn’t see the point in being constantly available. Obviously, I’ve changed my tune since then.
I love technology, don’t get me wrong. I have an awesome DSLR, I have a newer laptop, I have my iP*d, etc. But for me to purchase it, I have to have a compelling reason. Something has to make it so that I can’t live without it – live being somewhat tongue in cheek, of course.
So when my Droid – the original Droid – started acting wonky back in August (that’s over eight months ago for those of you counting), I lived with it. I called my carrier to see if I could negotiate a better or different contract – especially since neither my husband nor I texted, as I refused to pay the $150+ that would require with our carrier). The only thing they could do was knock $9.99 off my data plan, which would also sign us up for another 2 years. I passed, determined to get out of this contract and into something far cheaper – and yes, I did calculate the break even for switching carriers at that point and paying the cancellation fee. It wasn’t quite worth it, sadly.
As my phone continued to go wonky more and more, I found creative solutions. My power button broke so I couldn’t turn it off anymore? I carried it in my hand until it fell asleep or used my iGo to turn it back on when I had to pull the battery to stop it from spinning madly. I brought it to the carrier’s store where they tried to fix it – repeatedly. It didn’t help. Instead I dealt with it, counting down the days until my contract was over.
In February, my phone became utterly useless. It would unlock itself (a pretty neat trick, actually). It would call people. It would try to text them. It would spin madly. It wouldn’t let me dial calls. I couldn’t stop it, and finally it wouldn’t even let me voice search my navigation or accept calls. Frugal me, I put out a call for help to Facebook – knowing that I have friends who upgrade their phones far more often than I do. Two friends offered phones that they had outgrown, and voila I had a new phone without having to renew my contract because I had upgraded my phone (eBay was also an option, but my friends come first).
Fast forward to now. I spent last week researching carriers – who my friends like, the costs, the coverage, the plans, the phones. On Monday, I walked into Costco and had my new phones and plans set up in under thirty minutes. I’m pretty sure I made the day of the woman making the kiosk. (Why Costco? Aside from deeply discounted phones, the rebate the activation, and provide a whole slew of extras from a bluetooth to a car charger for free. Oh, and since I used my Costco AmEx, I have a second year of warranty free – I used it with the Droid, and AmEx refunded my Droid purchase price to my card, no questions asked.)
My husband has a smart phone for the first time ever. Watching him try to use it sort of makes me giggle, but I’m nice and have been helping him. I now text for the first time ever, and my friends are thrilled – for the moment. I’m finally not the one who says, “Wait – can you call me instead? I don’t text” and get the weird looks from everyone. I am even paying about thirty percent less with this plan than I did with the old one, even though we’re getting so much more.
Welcome to the 21st century, Me. And Swype? I love you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go play with my new phone some more – and hope I don’t break it before my $2.91 case (shipping included) arrives.
What is your relationship with technology? Do you always buy the latest and greatest, or do you have to justify your purchases some other way?