When you hear that someone bought an iPhone, it sounds expensive. With a new contract, the phone itself is $200. Then you need the mandatory package of minutes and data. Plus text messages. Oh yah, and you’ll want some apps too. While I’m a fan of lifestyle inflation, if you’re not careful it can get out of hand. Since I was on a family plan, the real cost was only $30 versus the alternative.
When I got my iPhone, I sort of knew what I was in for, and I didn’t want to spend $10-$20 per month on apps, which I could easily reach if I took recommendations from friends on fun games and cool apps. But I wanted to be a frugal iPhone owner, if there is such a thing.
I vowed not to pay for apps. I couldn’t justify paying $200 per year on one-time purchases and apps that I would likely use and then forget about. They are the ultimate impulse purchases.
But what is an iPhone without apps? How did I do it?
Take Advantage of Free Apps
First, there are many free apps, so first I took advantage of those. Some apps have ‘lite’ versions, which don’t include all the features, but usually give a good enough taste. For example, TrackerLite lets me track packages. I have no idea what the limitations are, maybe the full version doesn’t have an advertisement at the top, but that’s definitely something I can live with.
Unlock Special Features
Second, I jailbroke my phone. What does that mean? It means that Apple restricts the phone’s use and doesn’t allow certain apps into their App Store. So if an app uses the volume buttons to take pictures, Apple will ban it. By jailbreaking my phone, I got access to many more apps that Apple didn’t like, but that can do wonders for a phone.
It Never Hurts to Ask
When I really wanted a paid app and had no choice, I had no choice but to do something crazy: I asked the creators for a free copy. And most of the time, they listened. My favorite app, IntelliScreen, lets me see my calender, email, and weather without unlocking my phone. The downside is that it cost $10, and I definitely wasn’t prepared to pay that. So I emailed asking for a free copy and I got a response saying,
“I always find it odd that people ask for a free $10 app but have enough money for a $300 phone and a $90/month phone bill. Explain it to me and I will hook you up.”
Alright, well that was pretty simple. I just told him that I was able to sell unneeded accessories and my old phone and was therefore able to get a free iPhone and service for a few months.
His response? “A deal is a deal. License added. Enjoy.”
Since it never hurts to ask, I always give it a shot. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Sell it for Profit
Sometimes, having an iPhone can actually make you money! I was able to sell my iPhone on Craigslist for a $70 profit (after using it for several months!) when I decided to upgrade. A better phone AND I make money? Score!
I definitely spent money on my iPhone, no question about it. But I love that phone and I think I did a good job of controlling costs and keeping the costs reasonable.
Readers, is there such a thing as a frugal iPhone owner? What tips do you have to keep costs low and fight the urge of impulse purchases?