Ever since Apple introduced the new iPhone 6S two weeks ago, I’ve been contemplating buying one to replace my aging iPhone 5. It’s not that my current phone doesn’t work anymore, it’s just that some of the new features in the latest model would be nice to have: fingerprint sensor, image stabilization (on the Plus model), faster processors, etc. Even 3D touch looks like a cool feature.
So I went to the website to check out how much it would cost me. I don’t remember the exact price with taxes, but an unlocked version was well over 1000$. Which got me thinking… do I really want to spend 1/30 of my yearly net income on a phone? Especially since I have a perfectly capable one already? I could use that money to buy a couple dividend paying stocks instead, which would likely benefit me more in the long run.
There’s another option of course, which would be to buy a different kind of phone altogether — namely a cheaper Android phone. In many ways, this would make sense, since many Android models have similar or even better specs than the iPhone — but cost less! Without getting into an Android vs iPhone debate, however, I just don’t like the Android operating system. Many of my friends and relatives have Androids, so I’ve tried them out before, but they just don’t appeal to me.
Besides, it still doesn’t answer the overall question — which is, do I really need a new phone?
It’s funny how the human brain works. I know for a fact that any joy derived from buying a new gadget is going to be short term. I can’t think of a single electronic device that I own today that gives me the same joy I had when I first bought it. A dividend paying stock, on the other hand, has the potential to bring me joy over the long term. I mean, who doesn’t like receiving free money? So why don’t I automatically choose the latter? It’s entirely rational, and yet my brain resists.
This isn’t to say that the iPhone (or any smart phone) is a frivolous toy. Always having the internet with you is incredibly useful — so is having a pretty decent camera and a GPS. Personally, I use my current phone enough for me to say that it’s a worthwhile investment. So it’s not that I would never buy an iPhone again. But I already own one, and while it doesn’t have all of the latest upgrades, it’s admittedly good enough for the time being.
On the flip side, I don’t want to save money to the point where my life becomes an exercise in tediousness and is no longer fun. It’s theoretically possibly to save most if not all of your money: live out of your car, dumpster dive/eat squirrels for food, make clothes out of squirrel fur, etc. Although my examples are extreme, they represent one end of the save/spend continuum. At some point you have to find a spot on that line that lets you save enough to realize your long term goals while still enjoying your life. It’s tricky.
Conclusion: as much as it pains me to say it, I’m going to stick with my current phone and wait for it to break… or Apple uses planned obsolescence to convince me to change it. (Un)fortunately that hasn’t quite happened yet. Besides, I know that in twelve months there will be an even better model out.