At church recently, I ran into a friend who had to confiscate his son’s smartphone because the boy was capturing creatures during Sunday service.

I may be missing out on the hottest thing this summer, but at least my failure to join the Pokémon Go phenomena means I’m not tempted to pay to play.

In this popular game users interact virtually with Pokémon characters placed in real world settings. The app is free to download, but of course there are in-app purchasing opportunities.

This free game is costing folks in other ways. Some have been robbed while playing ita.
Teens used Pokémon Go app to lure robbery victims, police say

“The incidents have police departments across the country warning gamers not to bury their heads in their phones,” reported The Washington Post’s Dan Morse and T. Rees Shapiro.

And as Erik Sherman writes for, “free isn’t the same as no cost. Sherman points out that you may end up paying for: data use, legal run-ins, personal injuries, loss productivity and increase insurance costs.

Andrew Hayward, a contributor to Macworld offers some tips to stay on the free side of this game.

“With a super-hot social game like this, the temptation to shell out for an edge can be tempting,” Hayward writes.

The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Needleman reported that some players are cashing in by selling their advanced-level game accounts.

“As with many videogames, Pokémon Go players start with limited power, building up over time as they progress,” she writes. “Some players prefer a shortcut from newbie to advanced status, and others are eager to sell them the access.”

People, please get a grip on reality before you cost yourself some real and serious money.

Color of Money Question of the Week
Okay, fess up. Have you paid to play and if so, why oh why? Send your comments to In the subject line put “Pokémon Go.”

Live Chat Cancelled
There won’t be a chat today but I’ll be back next week. In the meantime, if you weren’t with me last week, read the transcript of a very engaging discussion with Donna Rosato, a senior editor at Consumer Reports. Rosato answered a lot of questions about student loan debt.

Willing to pay to have someone pick up your pooch’s poop?

It wasn’t real.

As many people suspected, there isn’t a app in development that would have allowed people to pay someone to scoop up their pooch’s poop.

As Newsweek’s Zach Schonfeld wrote, the Pooper app business was satire with two missions:

— Making fun of our app-obsessed world.

— Making fun of lazy people.

For last week’s Color of Money Question of the Week I asked what personal service would you pay to have done for you?

George of Pittsburgh wrote: “I pay to have my oil changes done. Used to do it myself but just not worth the hassle and mess.”

Roxanne in South Carolina and a few others point that lazy and inconsiderate dog owners have already resulted in a pooper pick up service. “We’ve had people doing this for years in some of the subdivisions with Homeowners Associations that say you have to make sure your yard is free of dog poop due to water run off and contamination, especially subdivisions near lakes or waterways.”

Retirement news you can use
Retirement columnist Rodney Brooks’s Monday newsletter this week: How to spot the best cities for retirement

Brooks recent retirement column: How to retire without regrets

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1301 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to