To some, saving money is great in theory but hard…
I’m old enough to remember not having a cell phone (I’m in my thirties). I can vividly recall the difference between existing with a communication device on me at all times and the calm sense of being connected to reality and… the moment… that came before. I have an iPhone. It’s pretty. It’s nice. It makes it so that no matter what, twenty four hours a day, I know where ALL THE PIZZA IN THE CITY IS AT ALL TIMES.
But it also makes it difficult to be entirely inside of the now. To hear, and see, and feel totally within the exact space and time wherein I am existing. And when I am not totally in the present, I am not at peace. This became acutely obvious this month when I accidentally sat in a hot tub with an iPhone in my pocket and sent it straight to hell where it belongs.
For the next week and a half, I had no immediate means of communication. If I wanted to go somewhere, I had to know how to get there. If someone wanted to talk to me, they had to wait until I felt like talking to them. I didn’t know where ALMOST ANY OF THE PIZZA IN THE CITY WAS, or if that pizza NEEDED MY HELP. In short, I was as calm, present, and at peace as I have been since I was a teenager. It felt so good to just… notice my surroundings. To be tactile again. But I didn’t just find peace, I found that I saved a lot of money.
I know it sounds weird but owning a cell phone (and having it on you all the time), apparently slowly eats your money without you even really being aware of it. Here’s but a few of the many examples of how:
“FREE TO PLAY” GAMES
These evil little devils are “free to play” the way eating disorders “help you lose weight.” They promise all sorts of consequence-free fun and then slowly suck all the essential nutrients out of your wallet, until all that’s left is a Ralphs club card and an old fortune that you thought was meaningful when you were drunk and alone at a Thai food place after your broke up with your ex-girlfriend.
Without a cell phone, I didn’t keep spending seemingly unimportant little dollops of money buying my Kim Kardashian: Hollywood avatar scarves that make Kim feel comfortable introducing him to her powerful Hollywood friends. Plus! In addition to the savings, there is the added bonus that I’m not giving Kim Kardashian money, and since Kim Kardashian is the living breathing symbol of all that’s wrong with everything in the world, the personal shame and guilt I live with on a day to day basis has gone way down. Now I almost exclusively just feel guilty about my carbon footprint, and ashamed about how weirdly I’m attracted to Kim Possible.
EATING OUT AND ORDERING FOOD
Apps like Yelp and Eat24hours make prepared food incredibly convenient. I used to be so stoked on how easy it was for me to mash my fat fingers against my phone until Chinese food magically showed up in my mouth. Without these apps handy, I spent a lot more time cooking meals for myself at home. The savings from spending $80 for two weeks worth of groceries, and not eating out or ordering in (which on average I tended to do 3-4 times a week) was enormous. A single meal with a drink at a fast food place is usually around $7. Step it up just a bit and you’re paying around $20 for even a low-end meal (drink included) in Los Angeles. That works out to between 5-6 meals cooked at home – meals that are far healthier, and much fresher than I would have gotten going out.
The Apple Store is the devil’s playground. It’s so easy to use, pretty, and clean and the songs are so cheap that I find myself dropping ninety-nine cents all over the place. Having a cell phone on me means that any time I hear a song on the radio I like, or at a bar, I can pull my phone out real quick, hit two buttons and then own that song. There’s no difficulty between you and the purchase that gives you the time to think things like, “Maybe I’m a bit low on money right now to be buying music,” or, “Do I really like “Lady Lumps” or have I just had way too much tequila to be able to tell?” Without having a cell phone on me, when I hear a song, I don’t immediately download. My playlist is much more representative of what I actually like because I take the time to sit and think before I commit to a purchase. My pocketbook is that much more full, so I can hold on to that money until I hear something or see something that I know will actually be meaningful to me.
Daniel is a WGA writer who has written for TV shows on the Disney Channel, and the CW, among others. He created Oishi High School Battle on Youtube which to date has over 35 Million views.