iPhone Temptation

When looking at Apple’s new iPhones, I’m tempted to buy the more expensive versions. I am lured by the upsell. The least expensive iPhone is all the smartphone you need…but the other iPhones are more shiny!

The dubious rationale behind the purchase of a $1,000 phone is explained nicely in this article on Medium: The Weird Economics of the Apple Upsell.

This year, Apple’s iPhone lineup is a huge Sarlacc pit, ready to pull you in at any point. The span of magical iPhones for 2020 is impressive indeed; there are 7!

The new top iPhone 12 Pro Max 512GB at $1,400 is a full $1,000 more than the 64GB iPhone SE at $400!

Yet both iPhones do basically the same things: make phone calls, texts, take good pictures, run apps, and surf the web. Both have NFC for wireless payments. Both are water resistant.

So what justifies the huge price difference? Fair question. What is the rationale behind buying anything over the iPhone SE?

In the Medium article I mentioned above, it talks about comparing the cheapest new iPhone to the next one in the lineup and then repeating that process each step of the way up until you’ve rationalized buying a phone for $1,400. It makes sense yet it’s kind of bonkers at the same time.

But here’s how to break that reasoning. Don’t compare the iPhone SE to the next one up the lineup chain. Compare the new $400 iPhone, which is all you really need, to the old phone you are upgrading from. That’s the only one to compare to.

If your current phone is ready for an upgrade, then you simply compare it to the least expensive iPhone and leave it at that. Don’t look at the others. Compare only your old phone with the new lowest-cost iPhone. Old phone: frown. New phone: smile. New phone only $400, yes!

It would be nice to live in a reality where we’re rational all the time and never let our emotions or impulses affect our decisions. But we don’t.

Yet it’s rational to strive for such rationality. So we do.


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Nothing But A Smartphone

Not long ago I wrote about pros and cons of devices designed to do only one thing well versus others that can do many things. Of course, the smartphone is the multi-use magic gadget with the chops to function as the be-all end-all device.

That in mind, here’s a thought experiment: can the iPhone replace all other devices?


Tablet

First, the iPad (or other tablet). Can it be ditched in favor of minimizing device overload, to simplify your daily life? It is basically the same as the iPhone, only bigger. So you would lose the large screen. To mitigate that, you could just buy one of the big screen iPhones. You know, a phablet.

Also, many people who have an iPad do not have the LTE version, whereas the iPhone always has a cellular connection. So although the iPhone is smaller, it does have built-in cellular internet, which is a plus.

If you’re willing or able to live without the larger screen of the iPad, you really don’t need it. Your iPhone, though maybe less than ideal in some scenarios, is enough.


Camera

Next, your point-n-shoot camera; can it go away? Chances are, if you still have one, you have not used it in forever. Your smartphone camera is with you 100% of the time; it’s all you use anymore. OK, that one was easy. Moving on. Seriously, unless you’re an enthusiast photographer, or if you only used a DSLR on auto, then your iPhone camera is enough.


TV

Now for the giant HDTV in the living room. Let’s see if we can toss that out the window. And let’s also chuck your subwoofer and little speakers or soundbar that go along with it. While we’re at it, say good-bye to the Bluray player, the game console, the Apple TV, your Roku, and any other streaming box you have. That’s a lot of electronic entertainment gear!

But so what? Your smartphone has an excellent screen, with super high-resolution, wide viewing angles, dynamic range, etc. It’s just smaller than your jumbo-tron! But then again, you sit only inches from it instead of feet, so what’s the big difference really? Want to zoom in on what you watch on your iPhone? Hold it closer to your face.

Yeah but what about the big bass sound lost? No big deal. There are many affordable headphones you can wear that deliver exceptional bass and stereo sound, even ones that mimic surround sound. Best of all, you can watch and listen to your shows anywhere; you’re not stuck to the living room.

Wait, what of the games? The streaming stuff? I will grant you that nothing beats a good controller with tactile buttons for gaming. That said, in the virtue of simplicity, one can enjoy a great gaming experience on a smartphone these days. There would be some sacrifice, sure, like not having the latest Zelda game (ouch).

Instead of dwelling on what’s lost, you can focus on what’s gained: the many other great games to play, the overall lower cost of playing, and being able to play those games everywhere, not just the living room.

As for media content, you know these days just about anything you want to watch or listen to is available online or in your smartphone’s app store, music store, games store, whatever. The supply of entertainment is virtually endless and still growing constantly. In fact, there’s too much!

Okay, your living room entertainment center has now been replaced by your smartphone. When you think about it, your phone is probably the center of your entertainment universe already! What else do you need?


Computer

Last and not least, your computer. That big box and monitor with a slow hard drive. Or your trusty clamshell laptop whose battery only lasts a few hours these days. No thanks. How much do you really use those things? What apps or programs on them must you use that cannot be found on your phone?

Most folks just use the web browser. And most major websites and services have apps on the iPhone. When it comes to the PC, the smartphone is the most personal computer on the planet! It’s always in your pocket! Plus, the processor inside your modern phone is likely as powerful as your traditional computer for 99% of the tasks you do.

So we can safely kick your computer to the curb. The phone in your pocket is more portable than your laptop and as powerful as your desktop. It can even do things your desktop can’t do, like double as a camera, scan barcodes, and be the GPS on your car’s dash.


If you prioritize and utilize your smartphone above all else, you can sell off the many other electronics in your house and use the funds to invest in a top of the line smartphone with a protection plan for it, a case, and peripherals or accessories for it like wireless headphones, a bluetooth keyboard, extra charging cables around the house, or an extra battery case.

Of course there are caveats to this kind of over-simplistic all-your-eggs-in-one-basket approach. For example, if your phone is lost or stolen, or even if just the battery dies, you have nothing else to use for backup. You’d feel like you’re in a black-out where you get that eerie quiet feeling that life is on pause until the electricity comes back on.

One way to help your mind think about this is to imagine you’re going to sell your home and live in an RV to travel the country. The RV can only contain so much. Could you relax comfortably in it with just a big smartphone and a few choice accessories?

Run this thought experiment through your own household and see what things your smartphone could replace. You might be surprised to find what you can live without. And you may discover a new level of simplicity and minimalism, reducing clutter in your home and in your mind. There could be so much less stuff to manage.

Just a phone, that could be all you need.

One little glass rectangle.

Nothing more.


What do you think about this idea? Is your smartphone the most indispensable thing you use? Sound off below, or contact me! Good to hear from you; thanks for reading.

One Bathroom Is Enough

In my house, seven people share a bathroom. My wife and I, with our five sons, made a big move last year, going from two bathrooms to just one. We had been accustomed to the higher standard of two with all its convenience. At first, my brain wouldn’t consider it feasible or even possible to lower our standard. How could we live with just one bathroom?! Yet over a year later, we learned that it’s enough.

A few week’s ago at dinner, we talked about some goals for the year. One that’s been on the back-burner is adding a second bathroom. In fact, it was a condition of our move. We had determined that we could make one bathroom work long enough until we added the 2nd bath. So we started discussing the details on how to make the addition.

I kept leaning into simplicity. My thoughts were on eliminating pipe work for the toilet and instead going with a composting commode. Keep it simple! Minimizing piping would save time, money, and hassle. Then we thought further, why not eliminate the shower? A half-bath addition would be simpler than a full-bath.

With this minimalist train of thought, we considered what we really needed versus what we wanted. This led us to a surprising yet logical conclusion: we could do away with the second bathroom altogether and…live with just one like we’d been doing for the past year! Talk about simplicity.

After proving to ourselves it was possible for 7 people to share 1 bathroom, we realized it was also feasible. It’s definitely easier to keep making one bathroom work than trying to build more bath space. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Sure, it’d be more convenient to have two bathrooms, but it would also be more work in building and maintaining.

More is not always better.

We plan to stick with one bathroom for now because we’ve proven that it’s enough.

That’s the ideal. Enough.

It’s true that our one bathroom doesn’t always feel like enough. Sometimes one of us must wait in the hallway, doing that little squirming dance. My wife and I don’t get to enjoy having a Master Bath all to ourselves. Sometimes the shower runs out of hot water and you don’t want to be third in line. It might seem less than ideal in some ways, but it works well enough!

So this ‘lower standard’ is our ideal; we are learning that living with less is enough. Whether one bathroom or two (or many things versus few), maybe the right term is contentment, because in some ways, enough is immeasurable.

Living With Less Is Enough

A notion struck me about a year ago. I don’t know if it could be called an epiphany or not. But it was like the movie Inception; an idea seemed to be deeply planted into the core of my being. It moved me to make some changes in my life, including one of the biggest: moving to a new home. The idea was: “enough.”

Before the idea of enough took hold of me, I thought that moving to less of something meant…settling for less, sacrificing my current level of comfort. And who wants to lower their standard of living when you could have more!?

I thought the idea of less would mean giving up things I was holding onto. I had an aversion to loss; I just couldn’t let go of some things I had or even things I wanted to attain. The idea of owning less seemed inconvenient and impractical; it made me feel uncomfortable.

Instead of having less, I thought the opposite – I would need more!

But in the end, thinking about the idea of enough caused me to see things differently. I began to realize that fewer things, possessing older or simpler things, could still meet all my needs…sufficiently.

Fewer things and older things are not lesser things; they are enough!

What I thought was less was actually enough. Knowing that, I became able to freely let go of the many better things I was holding onto without feeling loss or fear.

With that big turn-around, I felt a calming freedom, a kind of contentment, which allowed me to make a bold move to a new home. Only it was really an old home! It wasn’t necessarily a lesser home, just an older home. Not only that, it was a smaller home, but still, not a lesser home. In fact, it was enough home for us.

My wife and I with our 5 sons moved from our 1,500 sq ft home into a 1,200 sq ft home. We went from having two bathrooms to sharing only one – without even a bathtub for our 2-year old! Scary…but it works. Although difficult sometimes, it’s enough!

Don’t let what you want get in the way of what you need.

There are other big examples too. We need mobile transportation from point A to point B. We want the newest nicest car. Because for some reason a 5 year old used car isn’t quite as shiny even though it runs great. We need mobile communication to and from others. We want the latest fanciest iPhone. Because somehow anything less just isn’t enough to make phone calls and texts.

And because the fancy car and amazing phone cost too much, suddenly we don’t have enough money! Really? So then we finance or subsidize, hoping that we somehow will have enough money in the future, month after month, year after year of payments.

If you can sort out your needs from your wants, things start getting simpler. Not lesser. Simpler isn’t lesser. In fact, simpler is usually better.

What’s better really, to get more or be content with what you already have? We can look at what we have and be thankful and content. Or we can look at what we don’t have and think we don’t have enough, which means living in discontentment. This makes the things you already own (and could be enjoying) become disregarded and then discarded.

Just because you say, “No” to more doesn’t necessarily mean your saying “Yes” to less. Rather, you’re realizing that what you already possess is enough.

In a materialistic consumer culture, contentment is hard to come by. Like happiness, you can’t buy it in a store. If that were possible, I’d order it on Amazon with next-day shipping instead of 2-day shipping!

But haven’t we consumed enough?

More Than Enough Is Not Enough

More Than Enough Versus Enough

It may seem a bit counter-intuitive at first, that “more than enough” is not enough. How can that be? I mean, if you have more than enough, then you surely have enough, plus more! That makes sense.

But my point is more…strict, for lack of a better word. In math terms, let’s say “enough” is equal to one. Then “more than enough” is equal to any number greater than one, for example two. And two is not one; it’s two!

Why strain at such a distinction? Well, hopefully to make a good point. I’m trying to distinctly ask the helpful question, “How much is enough?” The answer is classic: Enough Is Enough. So “more than enough” is not enough.

The Problem Of More Than Enough

You might be wondering, “So what’s the problem with having more than enough?” Looking at the big picture, it’s not ideal. You want to aim for the middle of the spectrum, which is just enough. On the left end, you have the problem of less than enough. And on the right end you have the problem of more than enough. In general, you want just enough because anything else is either too little or too much.

Most times, people agree that having less than enough is a problem. And the solution is to gain more until you have enough. But instead of stopping there, they extend it further, believing that if “enough” solves the problem, then “more than enough” solves the problem even more!

That sounds good on the face of it. If “enough” is good, then “more than enough” is better, right? But the problem is that “more” tends to create more problems than it solves. In a word, it becomes excess.

So what about excess? The minimalists say this about it:

“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”

Excess Versus Extra

There is a subtlety to the problem of “more than enough.” While you might think of it as extra, my point is that it tends to be excess. And when it comes to minimalism, extra is excessive. And excess is the enemy of enough.

“Excess is the enemy of enough.”

Of course, you might quickly say that not all extra is excess. In some cases, a little more than enough is a good thing, like putting extra money in your savings account. But I think in the majority of cases, we inadvertently succumb to the trap of excess. We tend to slip beyond having just enough and find ourselves overwhelmed by too much of something: too much food, too much time on Facebook, too much…[fill in the blank].

So even though a little extra is technically “more than enough”, it can still be an acceptable amount sometimes. You just gotta be careful about it because we live in a culture of consumerism and materialism in which gaining more and more is the trend. (Minimalism strives to reverse that trend.)

Need Versus Want

How do you be careful to avoid excess? One simple way is to ask yourself about your needs versus your wants.

I’m sure you’ve been through something like this before. You’re at the checkout line buying what you need. And then the Milky Way candy bar catches your eye. And the caramel from within calls to you. Suddenly, you need to satisfy your sweet tooth. I know. I’ve been there more than enough times! So you ask yourself in that situation, do you really need that candy or do you just want it? And you look at your groceries, realizing you’ve already got plenty of snacks you’re about to buy.

The most common scenario seems to be a closet full of clothes and shoes. Most people in America have more than enough clothing. Yet we tend to keep buying more. In fact, decluttering your closet and dresser is one of the top posts on minimalism blogs. How did all that excess sneak in there? I think this can be addressed by just getting brutally honest about what you really need instead of what you really want.

So you might need extra, but you tend to want excess (whether you realize it or not). I believe that’s a truth most folks would agree with. Yet we tend to “forget” it in our daily life until it’s too late, like when the dirty laundry is stacked up. In exasperation you sigh, “Why are there so many clothes?”

Stop The Excess Trend

The call to action in this type of case is to donate, out of your over-abundance, a portion of your wardrobe to goodwill. But has the problem of more than enough been solved? Not really. A symptom has been alleviated, but the root cause remains.

Overall, the call to action here is to be mindful of these simple truths: “more than enough” is not ideal; it tends to become excess. And we tend to not notice the subtle excess growth, so be aware! I hope this blog post is a good reminder. Remember these things as you go throughout your days and weeks, asking yourself if you really need all that you already have, and do you truly need more of what you want to buy.