There’s no getting around it… Smartphones are awesome. They’re quite probably the quintessential invention of the 21st century. While mobile phone technology has existed for decades now smartphones have basically put the sum total of all the world’s knowledge into our pockets. Not only can we answer any question, settle any dispute or solve virtually any problem in seconds by way of the little plastic rectangles in our pockets. The statistics show us that we’re now using our smartphones more than ever to shop, move our money around and access media. Yep, there’s no denying that the smartphone is a pretty indispensable commodity right now (especially for a parent, with the wealth of useful parenting apps).


The last decade or so has seen a worrying trend arise that’s had hard working parents increasingly in the thrall of mobile phone service providers. We get a new phone on a pricey tariff but it’s okay because the phone is so fancy and it can do so many awesome things, and we can typically get them with little or no deposit. Thus, the cooler and shinier the phone, the more we lock ourselves into costly and lengthy tariffs. Then, when the end is in sight what do we do? We sign up for another costly and lengthy tariff so that we can get a shinier phone. If we’re to be truly thrifty, the cycle needs to stop. Here’s why…

You won’t get your old phone’s true worth when you trade it in

Mobile phone companies will try to lure you in by telling you that you can trade in your old phone to either negate the upfront cost of your new handset or to shave a little off your monthly phone bill. The truth, however, is that they’ll likely give you way less in trade in value than your phone’s worth. If I really want to sell my Samsung there are plenty of ways to get a better price. But this is not the only reason why upgrading may not be the best idea for thrifty families.

Will you really get your money’s worth out of the phone?

Yes, a nice new phone looks cool and we get maybe three months’ worth of impressed cooing noises from our friends when we pull them out in bars, but is there really that much that a new phone could offer you that your existing smartphone doesn’t? Over the last few years there’s been a real effort on the part of manufacturers to build cool new features into phones to incentivise people to upgrade which is all well and good but do you really need a phone that knows your face and fingerprint?

Will you really use all those texts and minutes?

As digital technologies have evolved they’ve given us new ways to communicate with one another that have made the texts and minutes bundles offered by phone companies kind of irrelevant. Why text when you can imessage or Facebook message? Why call when you can Skype?

While you may get some use out of those texts and minutes, you probably won’t come close to using the thousands offered on the top line tariffs.