When Does a Want Become a Need? Apparently When It’s an iPhone.

Remember way back when, I considered getting an IPhone 3G, but decided to pass. Among other reasons, I realized then that what I really needed was a wireless modem for our road trips, so I could work on my computer. Writing posts with my thumbs seemed ridiculous.

Well, that was then. Now, I’ve caved.

And funnily enough, I feel like I owe y’all an explanation.

So first off, we did get that wireless modem – the MiFi from Virgin Mobile. And it has been wonderful for our many short and long road trips. Except for during a stretch in Western Kansas. When it wasn’t so wonderful.

I don’t regret that purchase for a moment, as it has given me probably 50 hours of work time that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. And seriously, there are only so many books on tape this gal can listen to before I’m itching to blog again!

But back to the phone… here’s how it all went down:

Several months ago, we decided to upgrade my husband’s phone to an Android smart phone. His three-year old (stupid) phone was dying a not very slow death and we knew we needed to upgrade.

At the moment, we were sharing a family plan with my dad and stepmom, which had proven to be super economical. His line was only $25 per month (as was mine).

Well, for the cost of the phone (about $150) + the same $25 per month, he could switch to Virgin Mobile and get 300 minutes + unlimited data + unlimited texts. With the AT&T family plan, he got minutes, but nothing else. Virgin Mobile, therefore, seemed like a no-brainer.

Plus Virgin has no contracts, so if he wanted out, he could get out – and sell the phone on Craigslist.

Of course, he loved his phone. And became a texting-checking-the-scores-downloading-apps fool.

And I was jealous.

I started daydreaming about smart phones. I researched. I decided I ONLY wanted the iphone (I’m an Apple snob, what can I tell you?)

I tried to keep my obsessions in check. Until our power / Internet went out, twice in 3 days, for very long stretches at a time. Then I started obsessing a lot.

I decided that I “needed” the iPhone (you know, when need means “really, really want, so bad that it seems like a need”?). But I couldn’t throw all my “on a budget”ness out the window, so I set a goal for myself: To earn $x from the blog for 3 months in a row before I could get myself the phone.

I figured by the time that happened, the iphone 5 would be out, and I’d be able to score a sweet deal on the 4.

ETA for my new iphone: December 2011 / January 2012.

Hmm, but it’s only September? you might be thinking. Oh, yeah, that’s right: My husband rocks.

Remember that little (milestone) birthday I had a few weeks ago? Yup! Guess what my present was? AN IPHONE!!!!!!!!!

I was home alone when my cell phone started ringing. But it was a weird ring. “Did Frankie change my ring for my birthday?” I stupidly wondered.

I started digging around in my black hole purse and couldn’t find my phone… because instead, I fished out my new iPhone.

There was a sticker on the back, that read Happy Birthday, Mara!

(Collective awwwwwwww.)

Just so you know, I haven’t totally lost my head with my new shiny toy. I reworked the AT&T family plan a bit, dropping some minutes, since now that DH has switched to Virgin Mobile, the remaining three of us require fewer minutes. With text and data – both new to my plan – and unlimited calls to wireless phones, regardless of the carrier, I am only paying $20 more per month than I was before.

That’s still an extra $240 a year that has to come from somewhere, but it’s a lot easier to make this adjustment than it would be for the $700+ a  year I was imaging it would be.

So now that I’ve confessed my unfrugal indulgence, tell me: Have any of you waited a very long time for something you really, really, REALLY wanted? Was the reward as sweet as you had hoped?

Are you also queen (king) of rationalizing why a want is really a need? Do you ever throw caution to the wind? Or do the numbers always have to make sense before you take the plunge?


  1. I was chuckling when I read the tweet for this post. I also really, realllly want a smartphone, but it’s on a (long) list behind electronic keyboard (for my gigs), amp (also), among other things.

    Our recent splurge? A sheitel. My full sheitel bit the dust a while back, and I’ve been surviving with my band fall, but it’s not such a great sheitel. After my husband got his “real” job (after residency), he basically MADE me go out and buy one. I got one on sale, but it still wasn’t cheap. At least I know that if I take good care of it, it should last 4-5 years, which does take the edge of the price, a little.

  2. LOL!! I am chalashing for an iPhone so I loved this post. DH has a BlackBerry (his work pays for it) but I am also an Apple snob like you. 🙂 I was actually going to get an iPhone this summer when I became eligible for an upgrade, but then I kept hearing rumors of the iPhone 5 so I’m waiting….and waiting…and waiting….I wish they would at least *announce* the iPhone 5 so I’ll know what the time frame is.

    In the meantime, we’re switching our TV/phone/internet service from Verizon to Cablevision and they’re giving us a free iPod touch (and it will lower our bill by $20/mo), so maybe that will help with the wait for the iPhone.

  3. For those of you who have similar cravings (and for some reason really need an iPhone vs the other equally-if-not-more capable Android counterparts), you might want to consider waiting just 2 months for Sprint to come out with the iPhone. They have much better rates on plans than Verizon and AT&T.

    In any event, buying an iPhone 4 now, when the new model is less than 60 days away for release on 3 networks, seems like an investment in obsolescence.

  4. Mazal tov on your new phone. I don’t have a smartphone, but I can’t believe you haven’t had one until now, especially since you blog so frequently! My thoughts on this purchase are you’ve gotta spend money to make money. Use it well!

    • That’s actually what my DH says every time I felt guilty about the purchase. And I do use it to update FB, Tweet, approve comments, etc. I can’t imagine writing a full-on post with links and pictures and what not, but for maintenance, it’s great!

  5. This is funny, in light of the fact that I just got a new computer. I had a six year old laptop that finally decided to die. But my husband has a perfectly functional desktop-but he said it was getting annoying for me not to have my own computer, and we were only sharing for about two days! So did I *need* a new computer? Not exactly, but it’s much less frustrating to have one.
    On a side note, there are some days when I feel like I’m the only person without a smart phone.

    • Titchadshi on your new computer. Until 2 weeks ago, you were in very good company from me 🙂 People always asked why I didn’t respond to their text… Uh, cuz I didn’t have text!

  6. Congrats on your iPhone. I was wondering if your husband is happy with Virgin Mobile. We’ve been looking into them and have been wondering how the coverage is.

    • Are you in Colorado? You might want to check, because I seem to recall it not being so stellar everywhere there. But if you are in an area with good coverage, you can’t beat the price. DH’s place has gone up to $35/month… but still…. I will ask Frankie to chime in here later with his thoughts, too.

      • For me, the Virgin Mobile coverage has been great. Only in very few isolated instances have I had any holes in coverage. And I have had times where I had coverage and others on different networks did not. All in all – and especially when factoring in price – I am very pleased with the move to Virgin Mobile.

  7. An iPhone is money well spent. I’ve had mine for 2 months and it’s paid for itself in downloadable grocery & store coupons that you don’t have to print out, the app that finds the nearest gas station with the lowest price gas, the app that helps you avoid traffic, and the bar code scanner that shows you where you could buy a product for the best price. Not to mention the peace of mind that comes with being able to get severe weather warnings, and to connect to the internet during the frequent power outages we’ve had here.

    Enjoy your new phone!

  8. Good for you. Enjoy your new ‘toy!’
    I did some similar rationalizing with my iPad. I was able to cancel my daily NY Times subscription and subscribe just over weekends. That saved me $350 per year, which I used to fund my iPad (the savings pay for the iPad over 2 years). As a NY Times weekend subscriber, I can read the weekday papers on my iPad free of charge. Pretty good deal, huh!

  9. I always wish for cleaning help. Then I started buying Groupons and such for local cleaning services and have been disappointed every time. 🙁 I think I should just start wishing for a clean house instead 🙂

  10. My first thought is my blackberry. Although I might not “need” it, the smartphone has become my GPS, my camera, my Google-answers-from-anywhere, and more. I love it, and I use it perhaps a bit too much.

    However, the truth is that my biggest splurge over the last six years was living by myself. It was the ONLY luxury I gave myself, but it was a biggie. (Today, I greatly appreciate the savings that come from no longer living alone!!!)

  11. I’m still waiting for an oPhone, a uPhone, or a sometimes-yPhone.

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