Learning financial lessons from a smart phone

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Texting, tweeting and making the occasional phone call is now a cemented part of most people’s lives.

But what does all that do to one’s wallet?

According to a Department of Labor report, Americans paid $116 more per year in 2011 on phone services than in 2007. Since 2007, yearly expenses on eating out dropped $48, clothing decreased $141 and entertainment expenditures dropped $126.

Healthy spending is a must for managing a bill that can range more than $80. But with more apps than one can slide a finger over, it’s not easy to get sucked into a habit of buying more and more for the staple to everybody’s hand.

Not everyone has a smart phone, and many feel like it helps their budgets. Joshua Weber, a senior from Heber, Ariz., studying English said he likes avoiding the app frenzy and not having to pay extreme monthly bills for his simple phone.

“It is nice just to focus on the budget that I have,” Weber said.

Weber is getting married soon and will get a smart phone in the next few months. However, his income is changing little, so he said it will help him be aware and become more financially prepared.

“It will be something that needs to be added into the budget, but it will help me do a better job at budgeting,” Weber said.

Alex Good, a sophomore from Greenfield, N.H., studying industrial design, has a tracfone. Good said even though it is a hand-me-down phone, he enjoys the inexpensiveness his contract-free phone offers him.

“It’s just one less payment to worry about,” Good said, “it gives me more things to spend my money on.”

But Good is in the same boat as Weber; he hopes to soon afford a smart phone. Good said monthly planning and goal-setting are keys for affording what he’s unsure of now.

“It all depends on the plan you get,” Good said. “You definitely have to be better at budgeting if you have to pay that every single month.”

Niecie Jones, a senior from Lehi studying family life has a smart phone, and is loving it. Though she makes monthly payments of $60, she said it helps in her financial planning each month.

“It helps me be a little bit more responsible about my money,” Jones said.

Jones said she couldn’t live without her phone. In addition to the fun her music and games provide her, she relies on her phone for her work and for other parts of life that have become a lot easier with a smart phone. But she knows they come at a cost.

Wise planning and a little foresight is key, especially for college students, to have a smart phone without breaking the bank.  For Jones, she tries to only fret at the beginning and end of the month, when her bill is due. But when it comes down to big things, her bill is on the front burner with her full attention.

“I definitely try to watch how much I go out or when I go buy new clothes,” Jones said. “I think about the phone.”

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