Smart Reasons to Save, Use and Invest Money

Buying My Son His First Cell Phone

I’ve had mixed feeling about buying my son (who is 11-years-old) a cell phone.

As someone who works with technology, I want him to have exposure to the technology at a young age so he has a certain comfort level with such devices.  I also want him to be able to hack his way through problem and basically just have experience with technology now instead of when he’s an adult.

The Purchase

No, I didn’t buy him a iPhone (although that would have been the ultimate), I can’t afford such a phone for myself, let alone my son!

Instead, we went with a Samsung Seek cell phone with featured a “no contract” $19.99 service plan offered by Kajeet:

Samsung Seek

The Kajeet $19.99 plan includes 150 anytime minutes (pathetic huh…), but also unlimited texting!

Initially I balked at the 150 anytime minutes, but my son convinced me that he wouldn’t be using the phone except for when we called him anyway.  Surprisingly, he just wanted to text.

I was dubious that he would use the text feature (I’ve never seen him text before), but once the phone arrived, he was texting like a pro.  I couldn’t believe how quickly he adapted to this new form of communication!  In fact, I don’t think he’s used what I consider the cell phone part of the phone yet.

A cell phone is more than just a cell phone to a kid!  It’s a status symbol for those that have a phone and communicate with one another, and those that don’t have a cell phone and can’t play in the modern tech playground.  While he did a good job resisting at first to the temptations (he’s a great kid), all of his friends kept asking when he was going to get one.  Finally, he broke down and asked me.  I’m not the heavy when it comes to technology or science gifts in the family so I said I was okay with it.  He’s getting smarter!  Had he went to his mom first, she would have said “no”, and that would have been the end of the story.

Special Conditions With The Phone

I’m always looking for a chance to bring finances into the picture.  So while I bought the phone for $150, I made a deal with my son.  I told him that while I’d cover the cost of the phone, he would have to pay half of the cost of the $20 monthly service plan.  While $10 isn’t a lot, when you only get about $44 a month, it’s almost a quarter of the money that you get each month!

He got a small pained look in his face when I told him that, but he still wanted to go ahead with it anyway.  I was proud that he made such a quick and absolute decision.  If it were me making the decision, it would probably had taken me at least a week to mull it over.

So if you have a young child, consider going with the Kajeet option if they primarily want it for texting.

Oh, one more perk is that it comes with a GPS built-in.  This way if we decided we want to track him for whatever reason, we can do so.  Of course we won’t, but at least it’s an option.  Note that with the $19.99 plan, each use of the GPS capabilities is an extra fee per use.  Had we going with the next higher service plan (at $27.00), the GPS tracking would have been included in the higher price.

If you have the money, I would recommend buying your child a cell phone, if they start asking for one.  So far, for us it has been a very positive experience.

Best,

MR

32 Responses to Buying My Son His First Cell Phone

  1. I think it’s great that you made him commit to the $10 a month. If I’m honest, I had a lot of things for free when I was a kid, and the shock of having to pay for everything myself when I was thrust into the adult world was like jumping into ice water after a sauna.

    • Thanks, I’ve been trying to teach him about money since he was 6.

      So far, he’s made some excellent progress. Initially he would buy himself tons of pokemon cards and legos. But now he has scaled back and become a natural saver.

  2. I love that my kids have cell phones. With life being so busy, they are just a quick text away if I am running late, and they can send me a quick text if they have a question.

    Good job making him pay for part of the plan.

    You would cringe if you saw our cell phone bill… 🙂

    • I can imagine I would cringe, shoot, I’m cringing at my wife and son’s bills. I don’t have a cell phone (I use the one from work…).

      Thanks, I hope he learns something about money in the process 🙂

  3. Texting is the way kids communicate these days, so it’s no wonder he wanted the phone for that purpose. It’s great you can track him down if you need to and that you’re having him pay a portion of his bill. It teaches responsibility.

    • Thanks, I’m hoping he gets crazy money spending habits out of the way while he is young vs when he is older.

      So far he went through a pokemon card and lego spending phase, but it appears he has a grip on matters now 🙂

  4. I got my first cell phone when I was 14-15 ish… and that was some time ago. The times are changing and I think it is a great tool to teach many lessons, especially responsible finance management like you demonstrated with the “you have to pay half” aspect.

    • 14 is very reasonable in my opinion! That’s when I initially planned on buy him his first phone… Now my 7 year old daughter wants one too (augh).

  5. My brother and I were given a cell phone growing up but it was for emergencies only. We didn’t use it for friends etc. Not until we got older anyways.

    I think it is great that you are using this opportunity to teach your son about bills and money management. He will learn so much.

  6. MR- Great thought about the built-in GPS….sounds like that could be useful if you need to track him down in emergency.

    Another consideration for kids is the combo of durability/replacement cost. I’m sure most kids will put their phones through more of a beating than the average adult so ya need something that can hold up and also doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to replace.

    • Ironically, just yesterday my son told me that our older neighborhood boy (14), just got a phone like his. This was after 2 phones were broken from abuse. So yeah, I’m going to have to start budgeting for the next phone… That for the idea 🙂

  7. I have a much younger brother, and he finally got a cell phone after a lot of begging. My mom got him a Tracphone, though, and he doesen’t know it’s not cool yet. Give him a year (he’s 12), and he’ll be begging for an iPhone, but for now he’s happy!

    • At first, I wanted to get my son an android phone, but it was too expensive. So instead we went with Kajeet. Besides, I’m sure 4 to 6 months from now he’ll manage to break the phone somehow.

  8. Congrats on the choice and the plan. The 150 mins are more than enough and for his age it’s to better keep the radiation levels at a minimum. This is where texting comes in saving the minutes for important calls for you guys.

  9. We got my son and daughter mobile phones about a year ago because T-mobile was offering the addition of lines for kids for free. We got them both the offered free phones at the time, and they work great. Phones stay on the kitchen counter unless they’re going somewhere that we tell them to take their phones.

    • That’s an awesome idea! I think I could have planned my purchase a bit better. I did look at T-mobile, but they didn’t have any deals at the time. It was my 2nd choice…

    • Texting has definitely overcome the phone call. It’s a little scary that, as humans, we have become so isolated and separated that almost all of our communication is done digitally. While I agree that young people should have cell phones, I think that they should be forced to interact face-to-face as much as possible.

  10. Its so funny that I find out about this phone brand after I just spent so much time looking for one for my son and while I found an affordable, it doesn’t have unlimited texting. I actually paid less for his phone with Tracfone, it was $10 for the most basic one, but the aircards the phone operates with are cheap but verrrry limited with minutes and texting. By the way, did you purcahse the phone online or in a store? I only found Tracfone and maybe two other prepaid companies in the stores, but not this one. I’m worried because Tracfone aircards are good for 3 months so he might blow through the minutes/texts (like 300 or so) before that…