iphone or millionaire?

When the iphone first came out, I was not attracted to it at all. A lot of my colleagues – I was surrounded by photographers at the time – were really excited that they would take their “business” with them (and being able to immediately respond to wedding inquiries might mean the difference between getting a chance at a job and losing out to someone else). After going through initial curiosity stage, I began to see the iphone craze as just another expensive luxury that was being marketed as necessary to our overcaffeinated generation. And I was suspicious about the ability to check email from anywhere, because I already feel that I overcheck email as it is. I believe it is healthy to have some parts of life (vacations, car trips, and waiting in line) excluded from being plugged in.

As newer! faster! sleeker! generations of the iphone came out, more and more of my peers were sucked in. You could hear people calling into the Dave Ramsey show asking for advice to file for bankruptcy who had just spent a bonus check to purchase the entire family matching iphones instead of putting money toward paying off the credit cards or mortgage or putting food on the table. I shake my head, judgmentally, as friends who I know don’t have any extra money sign up for $40/month data plans and justify it with explanations about saving money because they put other family members on the same plan (what?).

I have to admit, I am still sometimes judgmental of iphone users.

I don’t want to be this way, and I have to recognize that most of the people I respect in life use these clever little devices. I admit that I too would check my twitter stream while waiting in the never-ending line at the Piedmont post office if I had a data plan in my pocket. I admit that I would feel a lot better if I had GPS with me at any time or could check a flight status in transit. And, if used properly, the device just might allow some of us to vacation better, leaving laptops at home.

But… iphone or millionaire, people? I choose millionaire.


I know it’s not perfect, but it makes you think, doesn’t it?

One little lifehack that has allowed me to have many of the benefits of the iphone but virtually none of the expense is the ipod touch. In the past four years, I’ve worn one ipod to death, and am dangerously close to wearing out a second. I use this daily to check in on blog feeds, twitter streams, and facebook in a noninvasive way, and also to reference my calendar and contact information on the go. The ability to access music, audiobooks, contacts, calendars, and photos anywhere, plus the ability to access internet, email and streaming pandora wherever there’s wifi available means that I can still travel light if I don’t need to access my photo editing software or write long email responses which encourages me to leave work at home. Note: suspicious of the “koolade” factor, I tried the ipad when it first came out but couldn’t justify the expense and the size versus the relative benefit against the simple little ipod touch.

So, I don’t mean to be judgmental about this, but I’m really glad I decided against the iphone and subsequent data plan charges back in 2008. There have been moments of weakness and data plan envy – especially when I am stuck somewhere and could really benefit from being able to access Yelp reviews or check for an important email notification… but I keep coming back to that idea expressed in the comic… iphone or millionaire? DELAYED GRATIFICATION!

Full disclosure: Ali does have a hand-me-down jailbroken iphone he hacks with a $10/mo data plan.

So, readers. I know I might have alienated about 80% of you with this manifesto. Do you love your iphone? Does it help you do life better? I won’t judge you if you share (unless you really can’t feed your kids this month).

12 thoughts on “iphone or millionaire?

  1. mdog

    the data plans are what keep me from a smartphone. i can deal with the initial purchase price, but the monthly outlay is killer. and as much as i hate apple, i like your ipod touch setup. especially with a visit to central america coming up, if i can snag one for free/cheap from the early adopters i seem to be surrounded by, that might be a good way to go. meanwhile, i still get an odd satisfaction in pointing out my cingular-branded flip phone…

  2. Meg

    I, too, am an iPhone holdout. I do not want to pay for a data plan, so I stick with my phone being just a phone. The problem is, there are fewer phones out there that don’t require a data plan. One of these days, I am going to be forced to get one if I need to get a new phone! Argh! I am more tempted these days by the iPad, thinking that if I have the iPad, I won’t need to bring my laptop. But I think part of that is just the “keeping up with the joneses” kind of thinking. I’ve been fine without one this long! And maybe I’ll start filing away money like the cartoon says…

  3. Jackie

    Hi you two! I have SO enjoyed following your blog. It seems like you two have made a lot of progress with the right amount of focus. When I heard about the iphone I felt the same way. However, then, it made me look into it & I learned about all its handy features which has led me to have the latest model since the beginning (thankfully I always sell mine on ebay and practically make a profit to buy my new phone with each new model). But, I started to be realisitic with my $100 bill each month and decided this year to ditch it for some simplicity, and rid myself of that extravagence. I couldn’t stand seeing people on their phones constantly, and I didn’t want to be one of the tech-dummed masses. I got a simple phone that could still text nicely and Ive been getting a long fine. I’m not sure if the extra $40 a month really comes in handy, but I think that the mentality of it is the most beneficial. I miss my iphone camera the most being a visual person.. travelling / being out doing errands without the same digital convenience is also a pain, such a big big pain, so I may break down again or at least get an ipod touch. I miss my music! :)

  4. amy

    I don’t even know what the difference between the phones are I guess or an ipad or phone difference. So no i have never had one. My cell phone plan ran out and i still have to pay for that this week. I got lost yesterday looking for the raspberry picking place and stopped at a farm to ask directions. While I was there I got directions and a giant watermelon so really i didn’t need an iphone at all did i? ;)

  5. Todd Gorman

    The bigger issue here may not be budgeting or the cost of data plans, but status. People can purchase status in various ways, and have the appearance of that lifestyle even without the financial reality to back it up. Of course, if you can’t afford it, that’s where the trouble begins. Living within your means is fine for most people as long as you don’t look like it. Which puts insecurity behind choices that drive financial insecurity, too.

  6. Nathan Clark

    I ditched the my iPhone + $20/mo data plan (where I had $10/mo for ages until they forced me off!) and t-mobile last month. Instead of $137 for 1400 combined minutes and unlimited data for me w/2 iPhones we have 2 Android phones, 1500 minutes and unlimited 3G data + texts for… $67/mo. The phones were $130 each and we could still sell our iPhones to offset that entirely if we wanted to. (We don’t.)
    Smart move, though the miracle of compound interest presumes the market will always grow and never fail.

  7. gwyneth colleen

    i LOVE my iphone…and the ways it has changed the way i live could probably-MOSTLY-be accomplished with an ipod touch and a few other clever apps, but i really do love being able to access information wherever i am…

    i had an ipad for a few months, and i’ve found that i much prefer the iphone…it does 90% of what an ipad did for me…and fits in my pocket. if an iphone isn’t enough…the ipad isn’t going to do enough that i won’t wish i had a laptop.

    i held off on getting an iphone until this year…and i’m glad i did, but i’m glad i’ve got it now.

  8. Kristen

    I think, like so many other things, this is really good and valuable and worth it for some people — after all, that “invest the money instead” idea would be true for ANYTHING — but a whole lot of people spend more money on such things than really makes sense for them.

    E.g., even if you didn’t make your living through your camera, you would still be spending quite a bit for your cameras and lenses, I would guess, because you are a real artist, can tell the differences, and this enriches your life in deep ways. For me, a very basic point-and-shoot is plenty. And I’m sure there are other areas where I spend money in ways that make sense for me but would be foolish if you did the same thing.

    (And I’m sure there are tons of ways that I spend money that are foolish FOR ME. The tricky thing is being conscious enough to tell the difference.)

  9. Jesse Lu

    I know this is an old post… but I just wanted to say, my husband and I have both been without cell phones for over two months. I repeat- we are living happily WITHOUT cell phones. :) I have to say, my life has not suffered in any way, nor has his. In fact, if anything, it has taken a bit of the headache away from being permanently connected and we’re saving over $100 every month to boot. Now, there may come a time when we need a cell phone for business or kids. At that point we will get ONE cell phone to share with the cheapest package available. Until then, Hallelujah!


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