I have a decidedly uncool mobile phone. I never wanted one at all, but I caved to my mother's demands and got a Tracfone before I went to New York for an internship the summer before my junior year of college. It died less than a month into my time there, and I was just fine without it. I went ahead and sent it off for a replacement when I got home, and that Motorola c139 has served me just fine ever since. It allows me to make and receive telephone calls. If I really want to, I can send a text. Attempts at setting up voicemail have been unsuccessful, but that's ok with me. The little phone is sturdy, too; it has been dropped down a flight of cement stairs with no ill effect.
It's been a reasonably frugal option, at least as a supplement to a landline, which is how I've always used it. Because I paid extra for a double minutes card a couple of years ago, I can get minutes for around ten cents a piece if I shop the sales. Typically once a year, I buy a batch of minutes, and I'm set. Budgeting the minutes themselves is easy enough since the reserve is displayed right on the phone screen. (Although, this year, I've been traveling more and been less good about keeping conversations short. I'm down to 63.2 minutes that are supposed to last me until July 31.)
Alas the battery is now showing its age: a phone that used to go well over a week on standby can now go a mere three days. Even more annoying, I can head to school in the morning with two of the three battery bars showing, and the phone is sometimes dead by the end of the day. I can charge it more often, but I know that this is the beginning of the end.
My mother actually bought me a new phone a few months ago, nice Motorola flip phone that she picked up on sale when she went to buy a Tracfone of her own. It's nice I'm sure, but it's still in its packaging. It's too fancy, with bluetooth, a camera, a built-in FM radio, the option of buying weather reports, and a ton of other feature that will add complexity but no real functionality for a user like me. Plus I read somewhere, perhaps Consumer Reports, that flip phone are more prone to breaking than my candybar-style brick of phone because they can snap at the hinge.
Activating the fancy new phone would probably be the most economical option since I already own the darn thing. Yet, I found myself pricing batteries for the c139. For mere $10, I could get a brand new OEM battery. At that price, I'm tempted to pick up a couple and try to keep this little phone going for several more years. It's totally illogical to throw money into maintenance of a such a cheap item that's pretty much designed to be disposable, but I've developed a bit of an emotional attachment to my phone and to being a person who uses an out-of-date phone that was super cheap when it was new, especially in classrooms where students can just look at its outline in my pocket as evidence that I deserve mockery. Am I letting conspicuous non-consumption trap me into spending more money?