Are Cell Phones the New Cigarettes?

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I thought about this question as I read this CNBC article about people cutting back on food, healthcare and other items in order to afford their cell phones:

Nearly half of Americans have cut back on spending, including for travel, food and health care, in order to afford their technology.

The CNBC All-America Economic Survey found that 49 percent of the 805 respondents economize to afford technology. The nationwide survey, with margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent, found the top way to save for technology, chosen by about a third, is to cut back on traditional entertainment such as movies and restaurants. But 20 percent report cutting back on clothing, 11 percent purchase less food and 10 percent have reduced spending on health care....

When it comes to which technology is the most important, Americans clearly choose the cellphone. Asked which bills they definitely would pay if they ran into hard times, 39 percent said they would make sure to get a check in the mail for their cellphones, compared with 28 percent for Internet services and 20 percent for pay television, such as satellite or cable. But just 46 percent felt totally committed to paying their credit card bills, just five points above the response for paying for cellphone bills.

By contrast, 92 percent say the definitely would pay their mortgage or rent bill and 90 percent would make sure to pay the utility bills. Seniors were the most committed to paying the cable bill.

It used to be that people with less money were always talking about how broke they were but always seemed to have plenty of cash when it came time to buy cigarettes (or booze for that matter). Now, people have money for the iPhone 6 Plus and less for food and health care. With so many people giving up smoking, the addiction has turned to technology. And face it, the government and taxpayers might spot you on food and health care, but that new iPhone? Probably not as likely, though still somewhat of a possibility.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen, image via shutterstock/