I can’t live with it, can’t live without it: my smartphone. Sometimes I’ll look up from my phone, half an hour wasted, with no clue how I just spent that time. My favorite is when Johnny asks what I’m up to, and although I’m honestly up to something, it’s not substantive enough that I can form a response that would make sense. But the time-wasting on my phone is just a small part of what I use my smartphone for. And I’m thankful for it every single day of the month except one: the day the bill arrives. And then suddenly I’m telling myself that I don’t really need a smartphone. Smartphones are stupid. They’re the most frivolous, useless things ever invented and belong in the toilet.
But those irrational thoughts aren’t reality. Reality is that smartphones aren’t just a fun toy anymore. They’re oftentimes a necessity. Johnny has to have access to email and Internet at all times for his job. I have to have access to Instagram and Pinterest at all times for my… uh, erm… moving on. But despite these necessities, it’s still not easy to make peace with that bill each month. These phones are so expensive!!! Heck, Johnny and I talked about getting smartphones for two years before we could actually justify their monthly cost.
But all is not lost! Now that we can’t live without the little monsters, we’ve found that, thanks to a few apps and tools, our phones’ financial impact can actually be positive at times — so much so that being at peace with their cost is becoming easier.
Johnny and I track every expense. Wow, even as I typed that, I mentally ran through everything I spent this weekend to double-check that I’d entered it into our budgeting app. I’m a budgeting zombie! When Johnny and I spend money, it’s almost always done outside of the home (unless I’m on an Amazon spending rampage, but that’s another topic for another day). So while we’re out and about, we use our phones to enter any expense into our budget IMMEDIATELY. It makes us more aware of our spending, and we see the impact of each purchase right away. Because of this, I can’t count how many times I’ve almost bought a fairly inexpensive frivolous item (Essie nail polish hoarder right here) but then stopped myself because I know I’ll have to own up to it immediately in our budgeting app.
The app we use is called HomeBudget, and we’re kind of in love with it. It’s easy to use and syncs to both our phones each time we open it (no sneaky spending in our house!).
A GPS system might not be necessary in every part of the country, but where we live, we have to have one. Everything is just so spaced out and shrouded in a cloak of never-ending forest. It’s more than easy to get lost — it’s inevitable. If our phones didn’t have their own GPS, we would have had to buy one for each of our cars.
When we moved from the West to the Northeast, we had to open a new bank account at whatever bank was available in the area — from Wells Fargo in Utah to Chase in NYC. And then we moved to Boston, which didn’t have Chase. We’d had enough with brick and mortar and decided to try out mobile banking, something we couldn’t have done without those smartypants phones. Depositing checks by taking a picture still blows my mind every time we do it. But I must say, I haven’t missed my spotty relationship with the grumpy teller behind the counter even once.
From meal planning to grocery shopping to checklists, I use my phone to stay organized. I have never gone grocery shopping without a list and walked out of the store proud of the amount of money I’d just spent. That grocery list saves our budget every time because it keeps me on task (and away from the candy aisle). Adding bill reminders to my calendar or to-do list has also been a sanity saver on more than one occasion because I can just type the reminder in and then forget it about it.
We like to keep our music fresh in this household and in our car. But constantly updating our music library on our computer comes with a hefty price tag. So we use music apps on our phone like Spotify to listen to personalized stations. The music stays fresh, and it doesn’t cost us a penny. Johnny also uses his phone to listen to boring podcasts on the way to work. Blegh.
After listing those reasons, I’m feeling mighty good about our smartphones right now. This has been very therapeutic. Please join in this therapy session. What financial positives do you get from your smartphone? Can you justify its cost? We’re all ears!