I Happily Wasted $1200 On Myself

November was my birth month, which means I am now at the advanced senior age of 41. While I’m not able to claim a senior discount or make catch up contributions to my IRA, I am able to waste $1200 when I think it will bring value to my life. So when a Black Friday deal came along for a new 256 GB iPhone Xs, I pulled the trigger.

I remember when my parents were 41 and how old I thought they were. It is kind of terrifying to think about how old my children perceive me to be. My youngest son will occasionally go in for the kill, by asking an innocent question such as, “Dad, did they have cars when you were born?”

Birthdays are meant for presents and when you are 41, you buy your own. This year my present (to myself) was a doozy. Really, it was something I’ve been wanting needing that I called a present because it was so damn expensive.

I bought a $1,200 iPhone. Damn, it hurts to type that.

3 reasons my four-year-old iPhone 5s had to be put down:

  • Battery issues; two-hour span between full charge and sudden death.
  • Mic problems rendering the phone function useless
  • memory issues. 16 GB isn’t what it was 4 years ago. I would frequently have to uninstall apps to be able to take photos.


Recently Mr. Count Down To Fi, bought himself a new iPhone and he was flamed on Twitter. Apparently, if you are on the path to Financial Independence (FI) you can’t buy more than a crappy $50 Android phone.

Side note: a doctor I work with is convinced that his Android phone listens to him and then feeds him adds. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist but this sounds plausible.

Despite possible repercussions of the FI internet police, I’m not scared to pay for creature comforts that will bring me value.

Story Time

I feel fortunate to be able to wear scrubs to work, which feel more like pajamas, by the way, but ironically they are the expected attire to perform my job. My fellow nurses occasionally give me a hard time because I wear the same operating room blue scrubs every day, (the kind you see on TV) for the last fifteen years.

A decade ago, early on in my career, I found 10 sets of blue scrubs for $10. At the time I was really proud of myself for my frugal workwear. For the last ten years, I have worn these scrubs every day. I will tell you something you may not know about scrubs. Unlike jeans, scrubs do not get holes. They get thin. When you can see your undergarments through scrubs, it is time to go shopping. Sadly, my scrubs are nearing their end and my co-workers are taking notice. Because of this, along with many other examples, my co-workers have learned of my frugal ways.

So the other day, a work friend says, “I don’t get you, Shawn.” You wear 10-year-old scrubs and drive a 19-year-old truck, yet you have $160 apple ear pods and a brand new $1200 iPhone.

In short order, I explained, I am happy to spend on perceived value. If I think buying a creature comfort will bring value to my life, without hesitation I will spend.  I suppose, to my financial benefit, I don’t value many creature comforts.

Admittedly I was a late bloomer to the smartphone revolution, holding on to a flip phone, for longer than I care to admit. Though over the last 4 years, I have grown to LOVE my iPhone. It provides me with more value than I can measure. From work emails to Twitter, it has become an invaluable tool.

Despite the utility of a smartphone, at times I feel it can get in the way of actually talking to humans. After having a Digital Detox Day last spring I now try to limit my iPhone usage on the days my wife and I have off together.

I appreciate Warren Buffets take on the iPhone. He said the iPhone is “enormously underpriced” saying it worth way more than the $1,000 that Apple charges. So it is no coincidence that Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, is the second largest holder of Apple shares, worth an estimated 56 billion dollars.

What Would $1200 Buy In 1977

In honor of my 41st birthday and the subsequent, obnoxiously expensive present I bought myself, I thought it would be fun to see what $1200 would buy in 1977.

According to www.thepeoplehistory.com

  • 5-inch Portable TV $147.00
  • Average House Price $13,650
  • Average Monthly Rent $240.00 
  • BMW 320i $7990.00
  • Cost of a gallon of Gas 65 cents 
  • Average Income per year $15,000.00
  • Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve 7.75%

Incidentally, Apple released the first Apple II Computer in 1977. At the time, no one had any idea Apple would become the most valuable publicly traded company in the world in 2018.

I mentioned that my iPhone was purchased during a Black Friday Sale. The details I left out are: Target was offering $250 back in the form of a store gift card. Also, I failed to mention, we bought two phones. Eeek! My wife bought one also. Same model for the same price.

We opted to put the 2 iPhone Xs’s on the 0% for a 24-month payment plan. That is so terribly un-Fi. For the next two years, our monthly Verizon bill will increase by $90. This will cut into our cash flow but will be offset by raises and continued scrutiny of our expenses.

Here’s a riddle. If we received $500 in gift cards, did the two phones really cost $2400? Yes, but mostly no!

A week later I noticed a couple of Target bags in the living room. I asked my wife, “Did you go to target” My wife replied, “yes, I took the boys to do some Christmas shopping with the gift cards.”

The gift cards had come in handy after all. Deferring the cost of Christmas presents that would have otherwise been paid out of cash flow, meant the gift cards were not wasted. Although we ended up with a couple ugly Christmas sweaters, the kind you wear to Christmas parties, the gift cards were mostly put to good use. We have two new phones that will last 4 more years and life moves on.

Thank you for reading. Come back Friday or subscribe on the form above, for the Friday Night Highlights, where I round up a few of the most interesting articles of the week.


6 thoughts on “I Happily Wasted $1200 On Myself

  1. Hey, hey, hey, there is no reason to get derogatory about Android! I paid $1,000 for my Samsung Note 8 two years ago and it is very similar to the best fruit phones. You won’t hear me trashing your technology. I would never insult your prize possession like that. In fact it’s the perfect starter phone for people needing a Fisher Price interface. Can’t we all just get along?

    1. Thanks for reading and weighing in Steve.

      I have heard great things about the upper-end Samsung phones like the Note and Galaxy lines of phones. I was referring to the $100 range Androids. Although I have never used one of the entry-level Androids A frugal doctor I work with bought one and said it was a waste of his money. A month later he purchased a Google Pixel 3. The point of the post is that I value my smartphone for all the amazing things it accomplishes. I was happy to pause my frugal ways to splurge on A $1,200 phone.

  2. “So the other day, a work friend says, “I don’t get you, Shawn.” You wear 10-year-old scrubs and drive a 19-year-old truck, yet you have $160 apple ear pods and a brand new $1200 iPhone.” Coworker doesn’t realize that because you opted out of a new car and scrubs, you all of a sudden have way more money for the things you value. You use your phone every single day. While I personally don’t value my phone the same way, I totally can see why it’s a worthy purchase for you.

  3. I figure, whether you are on the FIRE path or not, investing in something you will regularly use and is of good quality is a good way to spend money. There is no sense in cheaping out and getting something that will need to be replaced sooner rather than later.

    1. Thank you, Sarah
      I have a hard time spending money on myself and that will probably never change. You are totally right! Spend money on stuff that counts. I get more use out of my phone than almost anything else in my life. I suppose I could have bought an iPhone 7 but with the Black Friday discount, the price spread was not that big.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *