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Philosophy on value? Pay the Least Anyone has Paid.

I recently overheard a salesman tell a potential customer that for their budget they needed to lower their expectations.  This kind of mentality drives me absolutely crazy.  Obviously there are situations where people have champagne tastes on a beer budget.  In these cases it’s absolutely reasonable to lower expectations to be more aligned with your budget.  For instance, if I go to a car dealership and expect to get a brand new BMW for the same price as a used KIA, then I probably need to adjust my expectations with reality.  Usually though, if you do your research, you will realize that there is always a better deal to be found.

The couple that I observed were looking for the biggest television that they could get for their money.  From what I gathered they had about $1,000 to spend and did not want an off brand television, they also wanted an LED.  The salesman basically told them that the biggest they could get was a 50 inch.  They seemed to listen to him, but were disappointed.  He presented, as fact, that they either needed to lower expectations or raise their budget.  I knew from personal experience that this was just a blatant lie.  I just purchased a 60 inch LED television for $847 after taxes and everything.  I have seen cheaper televisions this size, but my goal was to maximize value.  On that particular day the salesman was not lying to the couple as there were no great deals going on, but the point is that the better deal will come to those who wait.

It’s easy to just assume that you could sacrifice quality at the expense of value, but this is a false choice to make.  If I go to the grocery store today and bananas are $1.90 a pound unless I cannot wait another moment to buy bananas I will forgo them because I know the price will fall.  The grocer will not come over and say, have you thought about dry beans instead?  I know what I want and I know what price I want to pay.  I will buy bananas at 38 or 48 cents a pound, but even at 58 cents per pound they are not out of the question.  I think the same holds true to many purchases.  If I am looking for a vehicle and want to spend $8,000 and find a used Honda Pilot that books for $14,000 on sale for $9,000 I will still consider this car even though it is 25% over my budget because that extra $1,000 will get me an extra $5,000 in value.  In this example I am making the assumption that the car is really worth 14k, but the seller is motivated.  My point in this exercise though is that even with a budget number in mind it’s good to stay flexible.

When I research prices for an item, my goal is to find a good price and then buy the item for a great price.  If I am looking at a TV I do not want to compromise, but I want the item I want cheaper.  Basically, I want to buy any item at the cheapest price anyone else might have paid.  It’s not that I think I am special, but I do think that if a company can sell a product to one customer at a certain price, and make a profit, then why shouldn’t I get it at the same price?

This is true of products where I use the MSRP and average price as a guide, but will research to find a better price.  Then I try to adjust my expectations accordingly and take advantage of sales.  This is especially true of hotel rooms and car rentals.  My wife and I stayed in a hotwire low priced hotel one night for 40 bucks.  We were not completely satisfied, but for the minimal price it was hard to complain too much.  The next morning at breakfast I overheard another couple saying that they had paid $90 per night and to extend another day would be $105.  This made me a bit angry.  I was certainly glad I scored the hotel room for such a low rate, but if I had been the person paying $90 and a guy next to me paid $50 I would be livid.  I actually let the guy know that if he booked on hotwire he could get the same hotel for $40 and he did just that.  The point I am trying to make is that a better price may be available and it may not even be too difficult to find.  It’s not that I am cheap, but I absolutely want to maximize value in every dollar I spend.

I look at it as a value ratio that would be measured by a simple formula of quality / dollar.  I want to get the most quality, taste, or value per dollar that I spend.  When I buy a car I want to get the best car that I can buy for the money.  When I buy a house I want to get the best $ per square foot, without skimping too much on fixtures.  If I can get a plane ticket for $150 roundtrip why would I pay $300 for the same trip?  These are all adjustable expectations and some are clearer than others, but the point remains that I want to stretch every dollar that I spend. I’ll spend a little more for a little more quality and sacrifice a little quality if it can save me a lot of money.  Overall, these are decisions that every individual makes, but if you are mindful of value maximization you are better off in the long run.

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Life Tools (Fitness): BodyMedia Fit Review

The primary focus of my blog revolves around saving money, without sacrificing the pleasures of life.  Therefore, this type of fitness review might not be applicable to you or your situation.  I am of the opinion that the BodyMedia Fit is very much aligned with many of the tactics I follow in life.  As I have stated in prior blogs  there is no such thing as too much data.  From a financial standpoint you need to know where every dollar is earned and spent in order to make meaningful changes to your financial situation.  In the savings world it’s a simple equation of income – expenses = savings or debt.  So as long as I am making more than I am spending I am in good shape.  Ultimately you would like to have enough money left after expenses to set up a nice savings for emergencies and future, but it all starts with knowing your numbers.

BodyMedia Fit Simplisticsaving.comKnowing your numbers is what the BodyMedia Fit is all about.  It’s a small little device you wear on your left tricep and it tracks your daily fitness activity.  The equation is very similar for weight loss and finances.  Calories In – Calories Out = Fat or Not.  In this case the savings portion would be fat depositing itself to your midsection.  If you burn more calories through activity than you ingest through food then you will lose weight.  Actually every 3,500 calorie deficit should equal 1 pound of fat lost.  Knowing your numbers is essential to improving your health.  While there are many different excellent programs to track weight and log daily food intake, the options to show calories burned are not as abundant.  The best part about this gizmo is that you need not be a fitness guru to tap into its immense value.

My activity log goes back to February 2011, when I first bought my BodyMedia Fit.  Over this time I have gone some stretches without wearing it, but for the most part I have data for the past 2 years.  With this data I can see how my weight has fluctuated based on my activity level.  I have a very solid baseline so that I can actually see if any particular day is more productive than my average activity day.

Pros

The BodyMedia Fit, for me, is less intrusive than wearing a pedometer around and provides very accurate data on the number of steps taken.  The BodyMedia Fit acts as a pedometer on steroids though.  It not only tracks the number of steps taken, but the intensity of the activity.  The device sits against your skin to detect subtle changes in temperature, moisture and movement and analyzes all of these data points in some sort of proprietary magic.  The BodyMedia Fit website states that the device analyzes 5,000 data points per minute, while I cannot independently confirm this I do know that it just works.  When you are running around and being active this device will measure the number of calories burned.  Whether this number is totally accurate is difficult to say, but if the activity manager says I was active at a certain time, it coincides with my actual activity levels.

In addition to measuring your activity it is also a useful tool to measuring how many hours of sleep you get per night.  Again, I am not certain how this works, but it is very interesting to see.  Ever have a night where you go to bed early, but wake up the next day feeling groggy?  This device does an excellent job of calculating the number of hours you spend in sleep and also measures sleep efficiency using the number of hours laying down versus the number of hours asleep.

Cons

Reading the review so far, it should be obvious that I think the BodyMedia Fit is a great product, but that does not mean it is without its faults.  My primary gripe revolves around its subscription based website model.  Sure, many products are moving to cloud services, but that does not mean I need to like it.  I would rather buy the device and then load the data to my computer every day without the need for a monthly bill.  At $7.00 a month that’s pretty expensive and prohibits all but the most dedicated fitness gurus from sticking with the program.  Earlier this year they offered 1 year packages for $59 and 2 year for 89.  I signed up for the $89 2 year membership and find this to be much more reasonable.  However, it seems that they have gone back to their previous monthly fee which is disappointing.  I also have the Bluetooth version of the BodyMedia Fit and have found it difficult to connect to my Galaxy S2, but no problems with my Galaxy Note 2.  Overall though the Bluetooth is a bit buggy and not a great addition.

Conclusion

I definitely enjoy the BodyMedia Fit and actually own 2 of the units.  I bought the Core in 2011 and bought the bluetooth enabled device in 2013.  I do not feel like the Bluetooth model is worth the extra money because I find it annoying to have to pair the device on multiple occasions.  Overall I recommend this device for everyone as it tracks your activity and sleep throughout the day.  I wear mine around the clock and never run into any issues.  My sister bought the same unit and she finds it to be too noticeable on her arm and instead of embracing her healthy lifestyle she is embarrassed by the unit and wears it less frequently than I.  If you are interested in buying one of these units I would recommend doing so, but look into signing up for a yearly package to make it a better deal.

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