Smart phones are cool. I look at the iPhone, or something running Android, and I often wonder how many awesome things I could do with one. Check my email. Update social media. Even, in some cases, put together a presentation. However, every time I think I might spring for a smart phone, I stop and think about what it would really cost me — especially since I’m rarely in a position that would require me to “need” a smart phone.
Adding Up the Costs of a Smart Phone
The most obvious cost of a smart phone, beyond the initial purchase price, is paying for the extra services. Even if you aren’t roped into a two-year contract, the service costs on a smart phone are often higher than what you would pay for a standard cell phone, since you “need” to get a data plan to take full advantage of your smart phone. It’s a recurring charge that comes once a month.
But there are other costs often associated with owning a smart phone. Some of them might include:
- Apps: It costs money to buy and play Angry Birds. If you habitually buy apps for your phone, you’ve got a minor money leak right there that could add up to big bucks later.
- Accessories: Ear phones so you can listen to music on your smart phone. Blu-tooth headset so you can drive hands-free. Cool covers that let you express your personality. Smart phones come with a number of accessory options, and it can be easy to get caught up in them.
- Easy shopping: Instant shopping access can get pretty pricey pretty fast. When there is nothing to prevent you from shopping anytime, no matter where you are, and completing the transaction instantly, there is little to prevent you from having a serious spending problem.
- Theft: The FBI reports that more than 80,000 cell phones are stolen every year. Your smart phone can make you a target. This means you will have to get a new cell phone. And, if you keep sensitive personal or financial information in your smart phone, you might have to deal with the costs associated with that theft as well.
- Wasting your time: Time really is money. Think of what you could be doing with the time that you waste on your smart phone. If you are playing games or updating your Facebook status when you should be working, you could put your job at risk through reduced productivity. But, what about side jobs? You could be earning extra income with a side venture instead of messing around on your smart phone. And, even if you don’t care about the money, you could be putting your relationships at risk through your obsession with your smart phone. Who wants to be second place to a gadget?
It’s true that smart phones can be really useful. And if you monitor their use, and are careful about how you spend your money on (and with) them, they can be tools that keep you connected, and help you get more done. But if you aren’t careful, a smart phone can cost you more than you might think.