Phones are a handy, nay essential, means of getting information and connecting with those we love. Can there be too much of a good thing? Explore with me the pros and cons of the different kinds of phone use – their cost in time and money.

Days 365+101 Landline croppedLANDLINES: The phone rings at dinner time. I can almost guarantee that it’s a solicitation. For example:

  • Charity call. My response – “Yes you have a worthy cause but we have already allocated all of our donations for this year.”
  • Political call during campaign season (which has become all but 6 months of a 4 year cycle) – See above
  • Offers to increase my safety as a senior citizen or to protect me from burglaries. My response – Hang up. (I used to wait till I got a live person in order to ask them to take me off their list, but they disconnect as soon as I start this spiel.)
  • Offers for a “free” cruise – Hang up. (See above)
  • Offers to reduce my credit card interest payments etc. – Hang up (See above)

Yes, I know about the “Do not call” service and have used it but it only prohibits sales calls. You still may receive political, charitable, debt collection, and informational calls, plus telephone surveys. Still, we have a landline because my husband and I both work at home. Having 2 lines is a convenience and part of our internet package.

Days 365+101 TracFone croppedCELL PHONES: Until recently I only had a basic cell phone. This was fine for phone calls, text messages, and marginally passable photos. BUT, I would see colleagues and family using smart phones to check email while at a meeting, on the road, or well,… anywhere. They used it as a GPS, a daily lectionary, and could answer interesting trivia on a moment’s notice. I was impressed but I’m a late adopter and I figured I’d just wait. My TracFone gave me enough annual minutes for about $100. Besides, I didn’t get any solicitation calls.

Days 365+101 smart phone croppedSMART PHONES: However, my kids kept telling me that I should probably “adopt” a smart phone soon since the learning curve was about to increase exponentially and it might be hard to adjust later. This was sweetened by them doing the research for me and giving me a usable hand-me-down smart phone. I’ve been using it for about 6 weeks now to test whether it’s worth continuing. What I’ve learned from my experiment so far:


  1. Upon the advice of one son I went with TING,  a low cost provider with excellent tech support (He knew my needs.). It looks like it will generally cost me about $170 – $200 annually. It’s more than my basic cell phone but it does a lot more. Of course the data amount is small but I try to use Wi-Fi connections most of the time.
  2. It’s unlocked so I can buy a sim card when traveling in a foreign country.
  3. I can use “waiting time” and travel time to check emails.
  4. It syncs with my computer for Gmail, contacts, photos, and Dropbox.
  5. It makes phone calls.


  1. It’s not very usable for serious emailing and computer work – but then I didn’t expect it to be.
  2. I can see how this could become addictive. I might be tempted to check my phone in social situations which detracts from being present to other humans I am with. I hope I can balance personal presence with internet availability.
  3. It’s possible that my hunger for more data may bump me into getting an unlimited plan which would be more convenient but more expensive.

The jury’s still out. I think using technology this way will facilitate my connecting with others, make me more productive, and make my life easier. Let’s hope it doesn’t just complicate life and interfere with being human.

I welcome your comments on the pros and cons of your own experiences with phones.