Friday, May 13, 2011

Welcome to The New Technology (Or, Can A Smart Phone Be Frugal?)

My brother is a computer /technology geek. He designs software for a living and has five, yes, five computers on his desk. He’s the kind of guy that gets to try out I Pads just for fun, and took home ten different smart phones for a couple weeks each to try them just because he could. When I decided to start a business, I casually mentioned one day that I might have to get someone to do a basic web page for me. He had it done an hour later, in between football and making homemade oxtail soup.

I on the other hand have a love/hate relationship with technology. I spend too much time on the computer by far. I find myself muttering to myself as people chat on phones in restaurants. Although use my kindle on occasion, I consider it a money pit, and generally prefer the feel of an old fashioned book.

However, as I’ve come to realize (and blogged about here), technology can be a frugal tool. That blog was about using the computer to save money. I’ve since realized that was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Recently I purchased a high tech smart phone. While at first glance this may not seem a frugal purchase, a unique situation arose that made it so. An older phone was broken (and covered by insurance), I was eligible for an upgrade (on my same plan), and there was a rebate on the phone. So I got a handy new frugal toy for the same basic monthly cost I was paying before. Since then, I’ve been exploring my “phonosphere’, and it has been an experience.

I do a great deal of my working, playing and relaxing at home and I like it this way. However, when I do go on the road, it’s for a longer period (usually a whole day). I generally do all my errands once a week. I spend full days here and there going to yard and estate sales, craft shows, and buying books to resell. I also regularly take day trips and longer road trips. There have been times when I wanted to load my laptop into the front seat, but didn’t see it as realistic. My new phone has been a reasonable solution. These are just a few of the things I can do from the front of my car, or on my patio (although I am not above burying the phone for good old sunbathing and reading for an afternoon, trust me):
 • I can scan books at book sales instantly so that I know if they are salable or not before I buy them.

• I can point and click and get a comparison price list.

• I can access Blogger, Facebook or Etsy to update or find out if something is sold

• I can look and see if a movie is available at redbox or blockbuster in order to pick it up

• I can instantly access my bank accounts and see if there has been anything untoward (or see if my son needs cash in his account)

• I can get turn by turn directions (I find mounted GPS systems too distracting and won’t own one)

• I can get instant, verbal weather updates wherever I go

• I can load coupons and deals onto my computer so that they can be scanned by a cashier or other person.

I’ll never be the gal sitting in the restaurant lounge chatting on the phone, and I’ll probably never be able to text with my thumbs the way I see some people do. I’ll never watch movies on the thing, and I’ll always prefer a real paper book to a kindle book (even on the phone), and a real pen and paper. I’m even keeping my little day planner rather than using the “easily accessible” online calendar. I’ll also probably keep this phone for years, as opposed to the previously mentioned brother, who upgrades at the drop of a hat.

But I’ve moved further into the “world of technology” and accepted it into my life. I just have to remember that it’s a tool and I’m in control instead of the other way around.


  1. Barb,

    I can relate. I railed against smartphones for years. I made snide jokes about trying to find a cell phone that could be used to make calls.

    Then, I got one. Now I could never go back. As you note, there are so many ways to make one's time more productive. You do a tremendous job of using the technology, not having it use you.

  2. I chose a smartphone and I do enjoy its power. Most of the things it can do, however seem to be things I don't need. I use the navigation and I text on occasion but the size of the screen and keyboard make it too much trouble to actually browse or work online. These days it all seems moot anyway because last time I looked, the companies weren't offering any phone that weren't smart.

  3. Hi ralph-actually you can still get a basic regular phon, I have a college student who does so. I upgraded from one phone to another and while It took me awhile, I can respond to email, surf the web, and write notes like shopping lists just to take with me. I dont have a wordprocessing program yet...

  4. I cancelled my cell phone service and went with tracfone over 2 yrs ago and then they came out with the goodies! I'm sooo beyond stupid with tech stuff it's unbelievable(still don't record with my dvd recorder that's how badit is and how lazy I am - even my newest sewing machine has more things that I'm comfortable with!)

    I'm debating though looking into these new smart phones and cancelling my homephone- I have to have the internet and phone adapter when I could just pay for the 'hot spot' I use upstairs and get a cell phone plan and smart phone if I knew I wasn't too lazy to figure it out.

    sounds like you've got it down though!

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