Mention cell phones or smart phones, and all kinds of opinions come out of the woodwork. Some feel they keep us too connected, others feel it's too much technology. Some feel that they are a useful tool. Either way, everyone has stories about cell phone misuse-the person who lets their phone buzz in a movie theater, the folks who use phones during dinner, the ones who walk or dance while still connected. Note that I did not say kids or twenty somethings here, as my experience shows that baby boomers are as guilty as anyone-although I have called one of my kids "thumbs" before because of the speed she can text.
In spite of all this, I keep a smart phone-and the attendant cost in my budget. As I mentioned earlier, these days smart phones get a bad rap-and sometimes justifiably so. That said, I tend to think it's a people issue. When it comes to boomers and retirees, the choices are all over the spectrum. Some folks keep their more simple cell phones and get Ipads or advanced Kindles that do the same thing phones do,and keep their more "simple phones".
I choose to have the smart phone instead. Why??? Mobility and size, pure and simple. I often don't take a purse and a cell phone can be put in a zipped pocket or a mini wallet. It can sit in the well of my car. In other words it can go wherever I go. I tend to be a person that is either at home all day, or on the move all day, so when I am mobile, I may be mobile for eight hours. I sew at home for days and then do errands and fun stuff out of the house from dawn to dusk-I may be at a craft fair and then out to dinner or family.
Some might think this smart phone use is too much. However, I don't have a day planner or huge calendar. I don't have a GPS system in my car. I don't carry notebooks or lists with me (although I am a third generation list maker who keeps a notebook at home). I don't carry a camera (most of the time). I pay for everything with a debit card. In general, my little smart phone (that fits in a pocket, my cup holder or mini wallet if needed) eliminates most of those other tools. I do carry a map, depending on my travel destination.
In some cases I am preaching to the choir here, I suspect. Nevertheless, since my move to Denver (and especially in the past week) I have realized just what a wonderful tool (when used properly) my phone has become:
- This morning was one of those - I'm just going to sit here drinking my morning coke while enjoying my bedroom view. At the same time as I was comfortably immobile, I was able to grab my phone off my bedside and transfer funds between accounts. I also opened a YMCA "app" to see when today's water aerobics classes were offered. I also used a great clips app and made an appointment to get my hair cut-no waiting in a chair for me.
- Since the decision has been made to house hunt I am taking notice of neighborhoods and home for sale signs. As such I have both Zillow and Realtor.Com apps on my phone. Most Denver homes for sale do not seem to have the little one page fliers and this allows me to eliminate homes that are too small or don't have the amenities we need.
- As I am sure is true in other locations, the price of gas in Denver can vary by as much as ten cents per gallon easily. I have a little app on my phone that tells me the price of gas at all the locations in my radius.
- Tomorrow evening I will be doing errands and looking at houses and then possibly meeting for dinner or a movie. Since we have no idea of the time now, once we agree, I will use a reservation tool on my phone-I have one for both movie locations and dining.
- Yesterday I went shopping at three places. My list for each place was on a yellow "sticky note" on my program. At each of these places, I was also able to present coupons from my phone to be scanned
- My smart phone has a good camera and enables me to take pictures while exploring the town without taking a camera with me. Someday, when I dig into that deep dark storage unit and find my other camera, one will be left in the car. However, there will still be those times when I want to take a picture and all I have is my camera.
- I have both a free maps program and a turn by turn "vocal" program on my phone-while this has not completely eliminated the need for maps, it has certainly made my life easier-and stopped me from getting lost more than once.
I also have tools on my phone for counting calories and exercise "steps", for reserving Redbox movies, checking the weather, playing books, accessing the Internet, reading the newspaper online, comparing prices, checking the library catalog, and tracking my spending. I also have an app that allows me to take a credit card payment from anyone anywhere for my business-scanning it or not.
In one sense my little phone keeps me connected, but in another sense, it allows me to eliminate much of the extra organizational flotsam from my life in other areas-and I am fully capable of turning it off or down, and do so at well. So for now, I'll keep my - smart, very smart-phone, and it's cost.