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How to Deal When You Lose Your Phone

On Monday I came home from FinCon (I’ll regale you with tales of that some other time). I got up super early and hopped on a shuttle to the Denver airport with Shannyn from Frugal Beautiful, Sarah from Mi Common Cents, and JD Roth (I didn’t have to stalk him this year, but that’s also another story for another day). Oh, and a bunch of random guys who were wasted at 6 AM and smelled like a liquor store. Fun times.

We got to the airport, grabbed our bags, and hauled ass into the airport to make it through security before our respective flights. I reached for my phone to check in and it wasn’t in my pocket. Or my purse. Or my other pocket. I threw up a little in my mouth.

What to Do When Your Phone is Missing

1. Try to remember the last time you had it. I knew I had my phone in the shuttle because I tried (and failed) to take a picture of Denver’s demon horse statue on the way to the airport. Odds were good that it fell out of my pocket when I was sliding across the van’s bench seat to get out.

2. Don’t automatically assume it’s gone forever. I was 1100 miles from home in a large city and my phone was on a random van. My first thought was, Well, I guess it’s time to get another phone. It honestly didn’t occur to me that I might be able to find it until JD Roth suggested I try to go back outside and catch the shuttle before it left.

3. Feel free to be angry when people say dumb things. So I’m chasing the moving shuttle and yelling to the driver that my phone is in the back seat. His reply? “Just call 1-800-BLUE-VAN!” Really? With WHAT? I won’t offend any of you with my expletive-filled response, but I’ll just say I didn’t censor myself. Sometimes people are completely unhelpful when you’re in a crisis situation.

4. Make good use of other technology. When I finally got to my gate, I pulled out my laptop and used the Find my iPhone feature to see my phone moving down 15th Street in Denver. (I also could have wiped my info from it remotely, but luckily I didn’t have to.) I also used iMessage (thanks Apple) to text my mom from the computer and give her all the info so she could call the shuttle company.

5. Remember that all hope is probably not lost. If I hadn’t been able to find my phone, I wouldn’t have lost anything except the device itself. All my pictures sync to my computers and iPad instantly through Photostream (thanks again, Apple). I could download my apps again. My email is web-based and available on any computer, phone, or tablet I choose. So it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, though no one could have told me that at the time.

6. Be prepared to do what it takes to get the phone back. When I arrived in Atlanta, I got the update from Mom – the phone was found, but obviously they couldn’t get it to the airport in time. So I had to authorize a hefty charge on my credit card for the shuttle company to FedEx it to my house. While that sucks, it’s not as expensive as buying another phone so I won’t complain.

A Happy Ending?

My phone was delivered yesterday. I spent the last 24 hours prior to its arrival managing my withdrawal symptoms and feeling completely disconnected from the outside world.

When my dad picked me up from the airport, I became acutely aware of how hard it is to survive without a phone. I wanted to go to a certain restaurant, but I couldn’t look up the address. I wanted to call my son and tell him I was almost home but I had no way to call. Multiple times on the drive home, I reached for my phone to look at a picture, send a text message, or check my email and had the realization, Oh, that’s right. I live in the stone age now. 

Am I being dramatic? Maybe a little. After all, it’s not like my dad doesn’t have a phone that’s capable of getting directions or making phone calls. But it’s very disorienting to lose the device I depend on to wake me up in the morning, keep up with my work schedule, and enable me to run my business.

I’d love to say that this experience taught me how to be less dependent on technology, but that really didn’t happen. If nothing else, it reinforced the need for it (yes, I said need) in a society that is increasingly mobile/paperless/connected. I realized how often I really do use my phone for things like checking my bank balance, talking to friends and family, keeping up with my boarding passes for flights (yeah, that was fun), and knowing what I’m supposed to be doing every day.

How Would You Handle It?

Have you ever lost your phone? If so, how did you deal? And if not, what would you do in that situation? Does your phone manufacturer provide you with options like cloud backups, restoration of apps, GPS tracking, etc. in the event your phone is lost or stolen?

This post has been sponsored by the online lenders at Same Day Loans. Definitely an option if you lose your phone like I did!

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. plantingourpennies says

    I have, admittedly, turned around when I was halfway to work to drive back home and get my phone. It's sad that we don't want to live a day without these things anymore.
    Glad to hear that you found your phone.

    • I've done the same – and I was working 50 miles from home at the time. I think back to when I was a kid and we went camping for a week with no way to contact anyone, and it just blows my mind. I can't imagine doing that now.

  2. I go nuts even when I just leave my phone at home and I go to work, so I completely understand!

  3. its so funny that you have this post today! I have forgotten my phone at home. I feel so disconnected and lost!!! Thank goodness there is 'puter here at work! I am not traveling like you were but just being in my mild state of oblivion without it i can only imagine the full blown crisis it was for you!!! Im glad it all worked out and you have everything backed up!

    What a relief! I cant wait til me and my phone are reconnected after work! 😛

  4. I haven't lost my phone, but lost internet for almost 24 hours. I switched my phone over to an extremely cheap prepay plan and picked up a free app to be able to use wifi while making calls. This enables all calls, text messages, voice mails, etc. to be free while around any wifi. While I could have went somewhere and used their wifi, I was in the middle of school work and tried to wait until my internet came back. It never did and I cried a little. I didn't realize how connected to my internet I truly am. I couldn't connect with friends unless I wanted to pay more on my phone, I couldn't check facebook on a very important day/my husband's birthday, so I just gave up. Resorted to texting my husband to make sure everything was good and pulled out a craft and watched TV. I felt like I was 18 again and living in N.D. lol. I thought if this ever happened I would get more accomplished, but with it being my husband's birthday and all I couldn't get anything done. 🙁

    I hope I never lose my phone, because I don't have an iPhone, so the only thing I could do would be cry. BTW the blue van operators rent those vans in order to make any money. If he wasn't going to stop for your phone it was because he was trying to get as much money made in as short amount of time possible. I know that doesn't make you feel any better, but I live in Denver and it's just something you understand. I hope the rest of your stay here was good and you drank lots of water. I heard from other Financial bloggers, that they didn't listen about altitude sickness and drinking and ended up very sick.

  5. Before I had a smartphone this wouldn’t have been a big deal. Even now I could live without it but I don’t solely run my business from my phone or even rely on it that heavily for the most essential tasks. I am glad it turned up! I probably would have had some choice words for the Guy who said to call as well!

  6. Canadianbudgetbinder says

    I remember the time Mrs.CBB got out of my truck which I had just parked at the curb. She opened her door and of course her cell was on her lap. The cell tumbled to the ground and right into the sewer grate hahaha. I still remember when she threw her hands in the air saying, oh my how am I going to get it out. Amazing how the brain doesn't think outside the box. 1- you will never retrieve the phone 2- It will likely never work again . I still make fun of her for that but it was an emotional moment for her I guess like losing your purse. Glad you got your phone back. Cheers Mr.CBB

  7. I would hate to lose my phone. That time it got stolen last year I wandered around in a daze, got lost, called the one friend whose phone number I knew… It was horrible and it only lasted about 4h until I was able to buy a new one

  8. I just have a cheap prepaid phone now until we are out of debt. But driving home from FINCON, there were several times that I wished I had a smart phone to get directions, look for restaurants, etc. I don't even have one and I miss it, so I can imagine how terrible it must be to go without it when you are so used to it. Glad it came back safely.

  9. My purse got stolen once when I was in high school, and my cell phone was in it. Of course, back then, all my cell phone could do was make calls and play a few games. Really the only difficult thing was retrieving my contacts, but since I was in high school I saw most of my friends almost every day, and it was easy to recover my family/dance studio/etc. Honestly, I think replacing my phone and retrieving my contacts was less painful than losing cash/giftcards, my inhaler, and my driver's license.

    Now, I would hate to lose my phone. I hate when I leave it somewhere. Like you pointed out, everything I do on my phone could be replaced. It would be a pain, but possible.

  10. My screen died while I was waiting for the shuttle last Sunday. I had to scramble to print my boarding pass and borrow a phone to call my ride.

  11. Thank goodness for the Cloud!

    Glad you found your phone. Losing my wallet and my phone are the worst feelings eva!

  12. Never lost a phone but when I do I will make sure these steps are followed. I didn't even know iMessage works from PC. I know careers have webpages to send text messages from.

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