Technology Is Making You Broke

As I was passing our local Verizon Wireless store on my way home from work the other night, I realized that I’m actually excited to finally join the 21st century and get us some smartphones in April, when our contract allows us to do so. But I’m not excited to spend the money on a nicer model, such as the iPhone 4S or the Motorola Droid Razr. I’ve heard smartphones are miracle machines, but at the same time, I’ve heard many complain about their epic battery usage — my aunt takes to carrying her phone charger with her 24/7.

Not only will it probably cost us a few hundred dollars for two new smartphones, but, naturally, it will cost an extra $20 per month for each of us ($40 total) for an upgraded data plan. We already have a small $10/month data plan on our “feature phones” — and they’re not very feature-y.

It got me thinking of how much folks spend on technology nowadays. There’s cable TV, DVDs, video games, computers, GPS, Internet service, home phones and cell phones, tablets like the iPad, iPods and other music players, and all the service plans and accessories that go with them. Because Mr. Not-So-Frugal is a TV/movie addict, we have the jacked-up TV plan with all the movie channels — PLUS streaming video and DVD service from Netflix. The cost is enough to make a PF blogger want to curl up into a ball.

Add up all of the costs for your technology, and the result will likely be staggering. There’s the cost of the gadget itself, plus continuing service and maintenance/insurance plans. And many of us — myself included — have duplicate services:

— Not only do we have two laptops with Internet service in our home, both of us have (limited) Internet service on our phones. I can also access the Internet on my Nook.

— We have phone service through our cell phones and our landline. Are both necessary? Probably not, but it costs just as much NOT to have the landline phone service.

— We can watch TV on the actual television, through our Roku, and on DVD through our Netflix subscription. I can also stream movies online on my computer or my on my Nook.

— I listen to music on the old-school radio, on my iPod or through my phone.

— Some people I know have both desktop computers/laptops and tablet computers such as iPads.

I’m starting to think there eventually will be a way to combine all of these things, but that would cut into the manufacturers’ bottom line. The more devices, the more money — it’s simple math.

 

A Whole New World

Just a generation ago, we had simple color TVs, landlines and Ataris. Maybe an answering machine and a VCR, if you wanted to be fancy. Now, adults and kids alike have all of these technology-filled toys and gadgets. Our fascination and dependence on electronic doodads has even affected the way our little ones interact. She’s just turned 1, but Baby Frugalista has a playroom full of toys that make sounds and light up — and require batteries. Our little imp even recognizes that my cell phone and Nook tablet both have touch screens, using her baby thumbs to “push” at the screens to make things happen. And that’s just from watching me — I don’t give her my Mommy toys, but sometimes she toddles over and wants to join in the fun.

I’m torn between wanting our daughter to be gadget-free (I have nightmares of her playing Angry Birds at the age of 2) and wanting her to be fully immersed in technology. It’s going to be hard to draw a line. It’s also difficult for us as adults, as we’re weighing saving money against keeping up with technology — and I don’t mean buying a new iPhone every time a new model comes up. I’m talking about things like finally entering the world of smartphones, in general. I’m sure I’ll blog about our experiences in choosing new phones in a few months. Keeping up with the Joneses has become even more difficult in this day and age.