Should We Finally Consider a Smart Phone a Need?

smart phone

An important part of financial literacy is differentiating a want from a need and learning, especially when you’re living on a tight budget, to prioritize needs above wants. Of course, with the constant onslaught of new technologies, needs and wants can get a little blurred.

I think we can all agree on the basic needs we were taught in grammar school: food, water, and shelter. These three things are integral to survival. Of course, depending on where you live and the culture you were raised in, needs can expand to include other things too.

So, keeping all that in mind, my question is: Should we finally consider a smart phone a need?

Going Without A Smart Phone


I had the unique experience of living for two years without a smart phone. When I moved out of the country to Grenada in 2011, I was so low on funds that I bought the cheapest phone possible. It was on a pre-paid plan, and it could barely text let alone send a picture or check e-mail. I had that phone for a solid two years before I was able to unlock my old iPhone. Even then, the iPhone didn’t come with data but it made texting easier, and I could always surf the web if I had a wifi connection.

Because of that experience, I know my smart phone isn’t necessarily a need but now that I’m living back in the States with a new iPhone and plan, I find it to be an integral tool for my business. I’ve had about a million doctor’s appointments during my twin pregnancy, and I can often cross several items off of my to do list while sitting in the waiting room using my phone.

So yes, it’s not a need. I’m not going to die if I don’t have it. However, having the phone and the time it gives me to work on my business does allow me to make an income to purchase other needs, like pickles. And if you don’t think pickles are a need during pregnancy, we can go our separate ways. ;-) With that being said, I also make sure that I have insurance to cover my iPhone in the event that it were to ever get lost or stolen.

Is Change a Bad Thing?


If smart phones were to become such an integral part of society that they become a need, would that really be such a bad thing?

Already it’s difficult to communicate or text with those who don’t have one. It’s hard to look up directions, price check, find coupons, and capture important moments without one. Sure, there are other ways to do all of those things, but now they all come on one small device which makes life easier.

Maybe it’s the tech nerd in me, but I’m always skeptical when people say they are giving up their phone for Lent or trying to go without it. To me, it’s not an evil piece of equipment unless you are so addicted to it, you jeopardize your relationships or your health.


So, what do you think? Do you consider your smart phone a need? Do you think they’ve ruined our culture or do you think they’ve benefited it? How long do you think you could “survive” without a smart phone?

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Catherine Alford is a personal finance freelance writer and blogger. She received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. When she is not writing for other websites on all topics frugal and fabulous, she enjoys sharing her adventures on her blog,

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