Why getting a new cellphone is a bad idea

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If somebody offered to sell you something that cost $350 for just 12 easy payments of $90, would you take him up on that offer? Unless you make a habit of dumping money into a giant hole in the ground and lighting it on fire, you probably wouldn’t. But a lot of students across campus — across the country — are doing just this.

Time to put things in perspective: We complain about how expensive textbooks are, but we will happily spend almost $2,000 on an iPhone over two years.

The upfront cost of a phone might be small, after all, but your cellphone company makes that up by charging usage rates over the two years of the contract. You know, that $120 bill you get each month? It’s kind of like going on one date and suddenly waking up the next day married in Vegas.

About how high your cell phone bill is

About how high your cellphone bill is

So what’s a UC Berkeley student (or any student, for that matter) to do? Simple: Break the cycle. You actually have a lot more power as a consumer than you think. There are tons of resources around campus that can make you less reliant on that cellphone bill.

Use a lot of data? Try using AirBears instead. It’s fast and reliable, and it can save you the pain of having to pay for all that 4G your phone gulped up last month as if it were some kind of data-guzzling alcoholic. Plus, it’s schoolwide, meaning it minimizes the times you have to turn that pesky 4G on. Most people have less than 2GB of data on their phone they can use up — using Wi-Fi can stop you from bumping into that number. Many people keep their 4G on instead of going to Wi-Fi because it’s more convenient, but that’s a decision that will literally cost you.

And if you need a new phone? Buy one prepaid (without a contract), and save a lot of money in the long run. Prepaid plans such as T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Metro PCS generally charge you more for the phone up front but save you money in the long run by charging you less per month. You may pay $100 more for the phone, but you’ll save $20 per month. Do the math over two years, and you’ll be smiling like a fool. A rich fool. Plus, you’ll actually own the phone you bought, instead of paying it off.

And perhaps the biggest thing we at the Clog have learned: Sometimes you don’t need a new phone at all. The one you have now works, right? Buy a new phone now, and a better model will probably come out next week.

Besides, you’re at Berkeley. You won’t have the time to stop and think about that old phone in your pocket anyway, now will you?

Image Sources: Yutaka Tsutano and epSos.de under Creative Commons

Contact Sherdil Niyaz @[email protected]