Why we need to manage money like we buy smartphones

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After 13 years of using a feature phone, I finally decided to get myself a smartphone. Selecting one I realized that many of us have the right approach to buying a smartphone but fail to apply it to managing money and investing. First some blah blah about my new phone, kindly bear with me. Did you check out the free e-book: Mutual Fund FAQ 100 essential Q & A for new investors!

Why buy a smartphone now? Two reasons: It has become a need from a want. Google maps make a big difference in finding places. I once went for a money management session to an IT startup. I forgot to get the phone number of my host as we only corresponded over email. The address was on Google maps so I borrowed my wife’s phone and was able to get there.

There was no board, no door number nothing and no one nearby knew about the company! Yet Google told me I was standing right in front and it was correct! Another time I took my wife’s phone I almost left it behind and nearly died from fear. A big problem is getting a cab when away from home. I prefer private cab companies but this does not work in another city or locality and Ola or Uber apps on my phone. I never could understand why they do not set up a booking system online (for use via a computer).

So my point is that I realized that I was depending on others to get basic stuff done and that is not smart. Also, I was missing opportunities to take some interesting pictures as I move around. So it was high time I got one. However, I am not moving to a smartphone. Just getting one in addition to my trusted Samsung Guru SM B110 E/D which I used to record the Paisa Vaisa podcasts on financial freedom (scroll down for all three parts).

A mildly paranoid frequent online transactor, I will not do any financial transactions on a phone other than using my Guru for  OTPs. The smartphone will run on a separate sim and certainly will not have any social media apps especially the dreaded Whats-ape

So what phone did I buy and why did I buy it? The Moto Z2 Force for 23K at Flipkart. I had a mix of serious needs and childish wants. I am a drophoholic.  I drop my keyboard 2-3 times a week, mouse twice that many times, my previous Nokia and Samsung phones at least once a week.

Why we need to manage money like we buy smartphones

Since I am not exactly Mr. Careful, I needed a strong phone, not just one with Gorilla glass. I was fairly familiar with tech channels on YouTube and GeekyRanjit is a favorite having seen many of his reviews while shopping for my wife’s mobile.

Her Redmi Note 3 is a fairly robust mobile and has been gamechanger at that price segment. So Redmi Note 7 Pro was a natural choice and I soon realized RealMe 3 Pro was a close competition. I soon stumbled on the Moto Z2 force and found its shatterproof (not just resistant) display to be unique. In fact, there are several test videos. Check this one with 10 ft drop test.

With that being the serious no 1 need, I had some wants like lightweight and also slim device. This one is thin that it does not have a normal headphone jack! Also, the battery is only 2730 mAh, but it should last a day for me (may have to buy a batter mod later!). A fast processor (Snapdragon 835), reasonable RAM (6 GB) and storage (64 Mb)sounded reasonable. This is a good review.

Perhaps about 3K or so more expensive, I was willing to pay the price for its screen. A year ago it retailed at 35K with a free battery module that you can snap on at the back. It is borderline acceptable at 23K. My budget was about 15-17K initially and do have mild regret about overshooting it. Sure, I would love a one-plus or apple but I would feel terrible If I smash the screens of such expensive devices.

This device is about 13 months (in India) or so old, but I think is still a reasonable buy. One amusing learning for me is that if the device is shatter resistant (or -proof) then it tends to be scratch-prone and vice-versa! So will need a proper screen guard on. You can comment below on what you think about this device or my choice. Sorry about the personal rant, cannot resist it sometimes.

Why we need to manage money like we buy smartphones

Okay, now to justify the title of this post! When I read through reviews on Amazon, Flipkart, YouTube and a few threads on FB group Asan Ideas for Wealth, it was clear most people had the right approach to buying a mobile. There were generally two approaches:

  1. This is my budget and I would like to get the best device for that price
  2. These are my needs and nature of usage and this is my budget. I am looking for a suitable device.

Either approach makes perfect logical sense. Buyers have either resigned themselves to a certain budget or have accepted the fact that there is no such thing as a “best smartphone”.  It is about finding a device that is suitable for you – where your pros outweigh your cons.

There are a ton of cons in the Moto Z2 force: scratch prone, 16:9 screen and not 18:9, slightly darker screen, no frequent updates, no headphone jack, I can keep going. However, the shatterproof, thin, light design, its speed and hand gestures and voice features are more important to me. Hence I took a chance with it. Perhaps I will regret my choice, perhaps not, time will tell.

Why can’t we manage money like the two points above: (1) how much can I invest (2) what are my needs – how can I invest and save within these two constraints? It is simply common sense, yet so uncommon.

“Which is the best option to invest?”, “Where can I safely invest to get the best returns?” If you have stayed at Asan Ideas for Wealth long enough, you know what I mean. Why do we not realize that generic answers are not possible in personal finance?! I will never tire of saying this:

Ask  the wrong question and you are guaranteed of the wrong answer!

Tax saving is more important above all else, even if it locks up money (eg. NPS). An incorrect perception of safety makes us ignore inflation.  There are extremes too like believing investing only in equity for three years or five years or simply buying and holding will work over the long term.

Just like we focus, on what is the nature of my usage before buying technology, we ought to manage money looking at our goals, how much is needed and focus only on that instead of returns or gains. All the answers lie within us. Download this Personal Finance Self-Evaluation Checklist, evaluate your needs and find out if your money management is suitable. 

Now I await your comments about how bad a choice the Moto Z2 Force is! Also, I was interviewed by Pardeep Goyal for his YouTube Channel – cahsoverflow. Do check it out.

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About the Author M Pattabiraman author of freefincal.comM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the author and owner of freefincal.com.  He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras since Aug 2006. Pattu” as he is popularly known, has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management.  He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. Pattu publishes unbiased, promotion-free research, analysis and holistic money management advice. Freefincal serves more than one million readers a year (2.5 million page views) with numbers based analysis on topical issues and has more than a 100 free calculators on different aspects of insurance and investment analysis. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates  and associations(see details below). Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, TamilNadu Investors Association etc. Contact information: freefincal {at} Gmail {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
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5 Comments

  1. Prof,
    Btw you can book Uber online using m.uber.com. you can also call uber to pick you up. So you still don’t need a smartphone. 😛

  2. I THINK IT WOULD BE BETTER TO GET “ONE PLUS 6T” WITH HARD CASE BACK COVER AND A TEMPERED GLASS. ONE PLUS DEVICES GETS FREQUENT UPDATES HENCE BETTER SECURITY AND ALSO BETTER USER EXPIRENCE. I ASSUME YOU INTENT TO USE IT FOR 4-5 YEARS.
    “MOTO” PHONES USED TO BE GOOD COUPLE OF YEARS BACK BUT NOW THEY DON’T DELIVER ON THEIR PROMISES OF QUICK UPDATES. AND UPDATES ARE NECESSARY NOW-A-DAYS.

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