Once Upon a Budget Mishap

June 13, 2018

One of the side effects of budgeting is an awareness that every dollar spent is a dollar not spent on or put toward something else.

So, recently looking for a new cell phone to replace my cracked-screen-and-sluggish-Nexus, I was lured in by a steal of a deal at a well-known big box store. $199 for an iPhone 6, as long as you agree to use StraightTalk as your service provider, seemed like a really good deal!!

I have used StraightTalk for years and enjoy the flexibility and contract-free nature of their service and have had very few problems with it, so this felt like a no-brainer. Cool new phone for a good deal and same good service? What could go wrong?!


It turns out that the phone was not so cool after all.

I know iPhones are, in general, great and people love them. But this phone had really poor sound quality. As in, it sounded like everyone I was talking to was speaking to me through a sock, miles away. Everything else was pretty good, but as a phone’s original and primary purpose is to talk to other people on it, I decided to exchange it after 4 days of questionable calls. Maybe I just got a bad one, I thought.


Last Tuesday found me at my least favorite retailer at 8:30 pm. I rarely go to this particular store and never go to this particular location because of the sketch factor. But it was close and I thought it would be just a quick drop-in.


It was a 45-minute saga of reminders as to why I am very choosy about my excursions to this store and only go very rarely.

Highlights you might enjoy hearing about:

  • Jordan, the cashier in Electronics, ended up being really nice even though he initially appeared really unhelpful.
  • Jordan commanded that register. As in, I watched him accidentally drop a customer’s receipt, and the customer apologized to him and picked it up himself. That is command, people.
  • Jordan has only worked there for two months. The store and especially his department are understaffed.
  • Jordan’s department is down a person because his coworker was fired and is going to jail for stealing $3,000 worth of stuff.
  • The Lion King menu was playing. Over and over. And over and over and over and…you get the idea. I really should have found a remote and just started the dang thing.
  • A lot of people check out in Electronics and were not to be deterred by the line I was creating even if they complained loudly about it.
  • Speaking of lines, I had the honest-to-goodness thought that “People die in these stores at the hands of fellow shoppers, and, as the cause of this 12-minute line, I’m the one with the target on my back.”

The best part of this all? That new phone was no better than the other. After spending ~10 hours trying to get the iPhone situation to work, I opted to go back to my sluggish Nexus for the time being. Sometimes what you know is better than the new fancy thing that doesn’t work very well.

In summary:

  1. Sometimes a budget option isn’t the best.
  2. Even if they get you in an occasion pickle like this, budgeting and budgets are still the best.
  3. Prepaid cell providers can work really well and save you a bundle. But only if you’re using a nicer, non-budget phone. Or if you get lucky with a rare combination of cheap phone and cheap service.
  4. Don’t steal stuff. I feel like that’s the advice Jordan’s co-worker would like me to share with you from jail.

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