Teenagers ‘need’ a top of the range phone. You want your son or daughter to have the same as everyone else, so you have to find the money for a phone.
Choosing a Phone
Your child knows which phones their friends have and will want the same one. Anything else is a waste of money because it will be ‘lost’ or ‘broken’ within days. It is no good finding a phone that looks the same to you; to a teen and her friends the differences are obvious.
You have to allow your teenaged child to choose the phone.
The package is your choice however.
Choosing a Package
- Monthly Contract
You will be under pressure to buy a contract phone from your child. That way they will never have the ‘embarrassment’ of running out of credit. A monthly contract sets you up to receive bills of an unlimited size however.
Teenagers are addicted to their mobiles. They will ring the person they have been sitting next to all day and talk to them the minute they are out of the school gate. A monthly contract means that you pick up the bill and sets up confrontation situations for the foreseeable future.
It is better to stand firm against this from the beginning.
There is no getting away from the fact that a top of the range smart phone is expensive. Buying it sim-free is also expensive, but you can negotiate a deal with your teen whereby he or she pays for prepaid credit and a data package.
Going sim-free means that you could get an iPhone 4s from Amazon.co.uk for $425. You could provide a basic data package at $10 a month and a basic call credit allowance of another $10 a month. Anything over and above that could come from your son or daughter’s weekly allowance. This way your own exposure to unlimited bills is minimised.
Get insurance, too. If you claim under your home’s all-risks section you may be covered but your premium next year will sky-rocket.
You may be able to buy an older iPhone on a Pay as You Go setup. However there is the acceptability problem with an older phone. A refurbished iPhone 4s or Samsung S3 is also an option, but keep quiet about it being refurbished.
Refurbished phones are usually ones that have been returned immediately after purchase, repaired and are as good as new.
Helping Your Teen to Budget
If you choose to go the sim-free route with you paying for minimal monthly air-time and data packages then your son or daughter will want extra air-time and data. Having to budget for this will teach him or her a lot about budgeting.
You should make it clear that the extras on the phone come out of their weekly allowance and never give the allowance early or give credit. You could allow them to do extra chores to earn extra money of course.
Many teenagers take part-time jobs delivering newspapers or working in other delivery jobs just to support their mobile phone habit.
Written by Kevin Bolton, a father who has just had to buy a refurbished iPhone on a sim-free arrangement with his 13 year old daughter.