My iPhone Mistake
For an embarrassing period of time after smart phones had saturated the market, I clung to a Verizon Razr and you could only pry it from my cold, dead hands.
I, a millennial, was still rocking a dumb phone in 2011. Why? I knew getting a smart phone would require a data package. Plus, my parents taught me to not care what other people think about my frugal lifestyle.
After a series of my sister's hand-me-down phones, I soon converted to an iPhone of my own. It was everything I expected and more. Now I know that I can never go back. Plenty of financial bloggers will swear by ditching their cell phone carriers for lower cost alternatives, of course, without an iPhone. I make tons of other thrifty lifestyle choices and an iPhone is one of those things I won't give up to save money.
Fast forward to my most recent phone. I had a yellow iPhone 5c that I loved, until I dropped it and the screen cracked. I had a few options:
- Get screen repaired ~$120
- Buy a used or refurbished phone online ~$350
- Get a new iPhone as I was up for an upgrade with Verizon ~$749
What did I do? If you thought the cheapest option, you'd be very wrong.
I suppose I had been living under a rock and didn't realize that the most major carriers have switched their 2-year contracts to a payment plan wherein the cost of the phone is charged to you monthly? This $749 phone would be paid for over 2 years, with a monthly payment of about $37. That seems reasonable, right? I don't know, it all was (and still remains) annoyingly convoluted to me.
At first I scoffed at the financing plan. Through Citizen One Bank, Apple has negotiated a 0% loan with small monthly payments equal to the purchase price of the phone. The pre-payer in me (I love to pay my 6-month auto insurance premium in one fail swoop!) wondered why there was absolutely no incentive to purchase the phone outright? I had the $749 to pay there, on the spot, but thought, "I mean, this way the payments are broken up and I don't have to dip into my savings all at once. It's better that way? I think?"
Since I'm rather disaster prone and seem to have a telekinetic power to kill all electronics in my path, I signed up for AppleCare+, an insurance plan that costs just $129 upon purchase of the phone and will reasonably repair and replace the device for a year.
Sure, I could have got the Verizon $11/month insurance plan. But, I opted for AppleCare+ instead. Why? Because I had personal experience with AppleCare+ and knew they were more or less "no questions asked" about repair and replacement. In all of my dealings with Verizon as a customer for over 10 years, I knew that their plans would have a litany of caveats and strings attached.
In my haste to get a new phone, I didn't truly compare the two insurance options. Had I done so, I would have noted that a stolen phone is eligible for replacement through Verizon, not AppleCare+.
At first I hated my new phone. I wondered why I splurged on a device that was so large and annoying. I missed my iPhone 5c. But, I grew to love the clarity on the screen, the better quality pictures, the fingerprint reader for quick unlocking, etc.
In a fit of holiday shopping, I stopped in to look at shoes at Kohl's. I must have put my phone down on a bench as I was trying on shoes, and then walked off without it!
Long story short, my phone was stolen.
The police came and said they could write a report, but there was nothing they could do about it. In light of more and more expensive phones on the market (and into the hands of thieves), my state recently upped the minimum value of a felony theft to $750.
That's right, my phone was $1 away from the police taking the incident seriously and pulling security camera footage from the store, or even attempting to investigate.
I failed to appropriately secure my assets; that phone was my second most valuable possession after my car. That phone costs more than what Mr. Spendy and I pay in rent each month.
I got flashy with a too-big-for-britches phone and got reckless in keeping it safe. The consequence? Each month $37 is still drafted from my account for that phone, a painful reminder of my cowardice. Six months post-theft, I still owe $500 on a device I will never see or use again.
I'm now the recipient of yet another one of my sister's hand-me-down phones (an iPhone 4, serious downgrade!) with a jaundiced display and a crappy camera. This gift phone will tide me over until it dies or until the $500 I still owe is paid in full, whichever comes first. But, that's what I get. Oh well, we have to learn from our mistakes, right?
At least my phone earns me back some money from shopping and grocery apps!
Have you made a technology purchase without full research? Has vanity or convenience ever gotten the best of your buying habits? Have you ever had an insurance flub like mine?