With Old Cell Phones Multiplying Like Freakin’ Bunnies In Your Sock Drawer . . . What’s a Gal – or Guy – to Do?

by Nindo Mom on February 17, 2011

The Cell Phone Upgrade Phenomena

Each of the major cell phone plans will let it’s customers upgrade to a new cell phone every year or two. This upgrade is offered at a discounted price–sometimes even for free. (My personal experience with this is with Verizon and Sprint.) This upgrade policy makes good business sense for the cell phone companies because when you accept their offer for a discounted new cell phone, you also re-commit to the cell phone provider’s  service for another year or two.

Most cell phone customers are more than eager to upgrade their phones because they desperately want / gotta have the newest gadget on the market–especially when all their friends and neighbors have one.

When cell phone customers upgrade their phones, they all have one thing in common–their old phone becomes a dead weight on their desk, in their sock drawer, or wherever. And this dead weight will be joined by more each year the customer upgrades their phone. This process will continue, year after year, until your begin to wonder if those electronic gadgets are somehow rodents in disguise because of how they’re multiplying. And of course, the situation is escalated when more than one member of your family has a cell phone.

To avoid this overpopulation of old cell phones, there are a few things you can do.

1. Don’t Upgrade Your Phone as Often

I know the next-gen phones are cool–but do you really need them? Really? Downloading videos and other data-heavy applications cost lots of cash is you don’t have an unlimited data plan. (And if you already have an unlimited data plan, that’s costing you a pretty penny, too.)

It comes down to this–what do you want to use your phone for, and what can you do with your PC? Is it worth the added cost of a data plan just so you can “do it all” on your phone?

If you decide you can just rent movies online with your computer–and that making phone calls with your cell phone really is enough–you can save yourself a lot of money on your cell phone bill–and, you won’t feel as compelled to get the newest touchscreen gadget that comes out. And most importantl, you’ll have fewer electronic bunnies in your sock drawer.

2. Sell Your Old Phone – ASAP

Get that sucker outa there! The sooner you sell your old phone, the better–because it won’t be as old, and you’ll be able to get more money for it.

People like buying used cell phones because they’re usually getting the devices for way less than their original price. But even more important, purchasing pre-owned phones means they won’t have to re-commit to their cell phone company, so won’t face hefty termination fees if they decide to cancel their service.

There are a number of venues through which you can choose to sell your cell phone–including Ebay, eCrater, Craigslist, etc. Gazelle.com is a resource I found that helps you to resell your used cell phone–but I wouldn’t recommend them due to the EXTREMELY low amounts offered for equipment–even when it’s in excellent condition. (For example, when I checked them out recently, they were only offering 4 bucks for a like-new Samsung Rant that’s barely over a year old. YIKES!) Yard and garage sales also aren’t the best choice, because the shoppers you’re likely to get usually expect to get “booty” for pretty close to nothing.

3. Trade In Your Cell Phone – for Cash

Best Buy has a buyback program on many popular electronics–including cell phones. The amount they offer depends on the item’s original value, condition, and age. Here is the Best Buy buyback calculator.

Ebay is currently offering a minimum of $200 cash for a selection of smartphones, including the Apple iPhone 3GS, the Apple iPhone 4, the Motorolla Droid X, the Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant, and the HTC EVO 4G. They’re offering cash on other models of phones, as well. Ebay states that this is a limited time offer, but does not say how long it will last–so if you’re interested, you might want to take a quick hop over to their website soon.

Buyback offers can change quickly–so your best bet may be to check with any establishment that sells – or resells – cell phone service to see what programs they might be offering. Be sure to check both the brick and mortar store and the store’s online site, because some stores may have different offers if you contact them online or in-person.

4. Donate Your Used Phone to Charity

Be sure to check the current IRS tax code on this, because rules can change, but a cell phone donated to a nonprofit charity should earn you a nice tax deduction at the end of the year. And a tax deduction is the same as putting money in your pocket.

5. Trade Used Cell Phones With Family and Friends

You’ll have to make sure you use the same cell phone providers for this to work, but it can save you from spending money on a new phone (and lengthening your commitment to your cell phone provider). And, you won’t have an “extra” used cell phone sitting around your house! What you will get: the excitement of having something new (to you). And, you won’t have to call customer service if you have a question about operating your new phone–just call up your friend or family member!

Living by (Good) Example

I have never liked wasting money – and treating an extremely (and excessively) expensive gadget like a cell phone as though it were disposable has never appealed to me. Anything we can do to lengthen the use of the items we buy will be beneficial to us on so many levels.

1. we save money

2. we reduce waste (and buildup in landfills)

3. we don’t waste precious materials

4. we don’t encourage excessive use of coal and other natural resources to generate the electricity to make new phones

5. we don’t send the message to our kids that everything is disposable

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