Monday, March 11, 2013

I Didn't Buy A Phone


I didn’t buy a new phone this week. I’ve been thinking about getting a new phone for a while. Mine still works, but it is starting to have the occasional odd glitch; the sound went funny and tinny once which was fixed by a restart, the touch screen doesn’t always respond, and sometimes the home button doesn’t work which also requires a restart. Nothing terrible but somewhat annoying and also becoming more frequent.

My husband and I have talked about it. He has been considering a new phone too; his current one works but his text messaging has been glitching and his battery life is terrible. I’m not under contract anymore but I know I’m going to stick with the same carrier anyway. They have good coverage and good customer service and I’ve been with them for over 10 years, so I don’t mind signing a new contract. We wanted to make some changes to our coverage anyway to save a couple dollars. Last week we even went to the store and looked around and played with the phones. We did change our plan but we left without new phones.

Looking at the phones, I realized the phone I want would still be $200 even with a contract. In addition to the phone cost it has a different charging port style, so I would have to replace my current chargers for car, travel, work and home or at the very least buy an adapter or two and hope I could mange not to lose them. The cost for the accessories would have been between 60 and 150 dollars, depending on what I chose to do, bring the total cost to at least $260 before tax. That’s quite a lot of money to spend on something that I really don’t need at this point in time. I thought about it, and looked at the phone, and then walked away without it.

I find myself making that choice more often lately. Some of it is the concern about the upcoming furloughs; I don’t want to spend unnecessarily right now. I’d rather keep my money in my bank account in case I need it later. Some of it is feeling that I don’t want to waste the things I already have that work. What do you do with a phone that’s over two years old? Clear the data from it (if you can figure out how) and donate it or recycle it, I suppose, but it still seems wasteful. Some of it is feeling that I don’t want to be owned by my things. I don't like having so much stuff to house and care for. I don’t like the constant subtle pressure to buy more, buy new, have all the best and latest. I want to be content with what I already have. I don’t want to feel the need to work harder, longer, more so that I can keep up with the barrage of new things to buy. I’d rather have my time free to actually live my life.

My sister took a pledge to buy nothing new for a year. She did make an allowance for food and toiletries and for purchasing replacement items if something breaks. She also made an exemption for digital media but she didn’t want to bring any new things into her life. I haven’t talked to her about it for a while, but at least at first it was working well for her. It kept her money in the bank, her small condo decluttered and her life much freer. I've read blogs too that talked about not buying anything new for a year, and instead borrowing things or buying them secondhand. The goal is not just to save money but also to save resources; it's an extension of the reduce-reuse-recycle principle. 

I am not sure I'm ready to commit to a year. When I think about it I start thinking about upcoming events when I know I am going to want to buy something. But I think I may try a week, following my sister's rules and not purchasing any new items, and see how it feels.