Guess Which Replacement Fitbit I Got?

Going to the water park for the kids mid-winter break has become a tradition.  This year we went to Kalahari instead of Great Wolf Lodge.  Both are in Sandusky.  But that’s a post for another time.  This year, unfortunately, I lost my Fitbit.  My band broke, and I stuck it in my pocket.  A couple of hours later, I went to check it, and the Fitbit was gone.  The band was still there, but the Fitbit must have slipped out.  So what replacement Fitbit did I choose?

The O.G. Fitbit Flex

I got my Fitbit in 2014.  I picked the Flex.  At the time, it went for $100 and was pretty cool.  Of course, now it’s pretty basic compared to what they have.  I call it the O.G. which stands for Original Gangster, and is a slang term for something once cool that’s now a throwback.

While it sucked to lose my Fitbit, it gave me an opportunity to consider what I wanted to do.

Option 1: Upgrade to a fancier Fitbit

My wife has the Charge 2.  Actually had the original Charge and has since upgraded.  This is a pretty cool device.  This not only tracks your steps, but also has a bunch of other features.  It will track how many flights of steps you make every day.  It can remind you to get up and walk if you’ve been inactive for too long.  One of the nicest features is a heart rate monitor.

Still, the cost is $150.  That’s no small cost, especially when I hadn’t been planning on upgrading.

Option 2: Get a replacement Fitbit Flex

My kids recently wanted to get trackers of their own.  A while back my wife found an original Flex at TJ Maxx for $25.  When she went to look, they still had them available.

This option was appealing because it was something I already had and knew.  Plus, I had a few spare wristbands that I’d already paid for.  And, heck, it was only $25, a far cry from $150.

Option 3: Do Nothing

I also could have not bothered getting a replacement at all.  I know many people have bought them and they’ve since made their way to a drawer.

The only real benefit here would be that it wouldn’t cost me anything.

Image from morguefile courtesy of Alvimann

What Option Did I Choose?

In the end I picked Option 2.  I paid $25 for a replacement O.G. Flex.  Here are some of the thoughts that went into my decision.

  • Price.  I couldn’t beat the price.
  • Bands. I already had a set of bands.  That would probably last at least another 6 months based on how quickly I’ve gone through them in the past.
  • Deal Timing. I searched around to see if there were any deals on the Charge 2.  There were deals that came up which were as much as half off!  That would make it $75.  Sounds like a sweet deal, right?  Well, it really was.  The only catch is they were all last year on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  So, if I get the itch to upgrade, I can probably wait nine months and save some big bucks.
  • Motivation. For me, having a Fitbit is truly life changing.  I know many laugh at that, but I think it’s a real thing.  I have a step goal of 10,000 steps and have hit it every day since July 1, 2016.  So, I want to extend that, and need to track that.  The device also keeps me active just tracking it.  There’s an element of competitiveness when I compare my steps to those of my friends or family.  But, it’s not competitive in an annoying way.  It’s motivation for me.  I walk more. I run more.  It really does make a difference for me.

In the end, I’m happy with my choice. I think I would have felt very guilty had I spent more money, knowing I can probably get better deals in November.

Readers, do you use a step tracking device?  What do you have?  


Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Cutting the Cost of Technology: The Actions that Matter

Today, a reader is offering an outside perspective on how to reduce costs when it comes to entertainment based technology.

Ever since I away from my parents’ house, I knew I wanted to keep the cost of entertainment to a bare minimum. My parents were the techie-type that would go out of their way to purchase new gadgets, T.V.s, and all others just to keep up with the mb-twenty-201308marketplace. I, on the other hand, wanted to get the maximum bang for my buck. What I started doing was truly looking at the cost of technology and figuring out whether it offered a substantial return on investment. My line of thinking was that if I didn’t get enough entertainment-per-dollar then it needed to either be ousted or sourced through a new solution.

That was a few years ago. Since then, I’ve learned a few things (and have converted my parents to this type of logical tech lifestyle). Here are some of the actions I have taken that have cut the cost of technology:

1. The “patient” gamer lifestyle

Video games are my primary source of entertainment when I’m not working. The problem is that new releases can run upward of $60 or more. Compare this to other forms of entertainment and you can see how it can quickly add up.

My recommendation: Be patient with your gaming. Chances are you already have a massive collection of games sitting in your backlog. Rather than spending money on new games, it would be financially wise to go through the older list. Doing so also saves money in the long run since you’re rarely be buying games at launch (at full price).

2. Go with the right service

Another major money saver has been negotiating with the cable/satellite companies. You’d be surprised at how low you can get the prices. If you figure that you watch a few hours a day it comes out to a few mere dollars for each day of entertainment.

My recommendation: Take a look around and finds what’s best for your area. When I was comparing deals I made sure to check out speed, DVR capabilities, and channel selection to maximize the entertainment-per-dollar value. There are options such as satellite TV packages available that could work well based on your circumstance.

3. Know your usage

The Apple watch was recently revealed but unless you’re a gadget junkie or someone that really wants to make a statement, you have to wonder if it’s the right fit for you. This idea is the same for most technology and gadgetry – are you really getting additional value out of that new item versus the one that you’ll replace?

My recommendation: If you plan on doing an upgrade, make sure that you’re truly upgrading and not just buying it out of vanity. If you can, too, see if you can make some money off your old devices (like cellphones) to go toward the new costs. If you can hold out roughly 4-5 years (rather than 2-3 like many others) you will certainly keep the costs to a minimum.

4. Rent/trade (when you can’t buy)

Why are we so isolated when we have such a large network?

You’d be surprised to find out how many gadgets and pieces of technology your neighbor (or people within the general area) may possess and not use very often. Because of this, there is an excellent market for renting or trading between these individuals. When you open that channel you cut out the high prices of retail purchases plus you’re not letting your stuff sit around collecting dust.

My recommendation: Get in touch with your neighbors and those that are close to your family. See if they have the items you need. You could offer a small monetary amount to borrow the item or see if they would be willing to trade it for something you don’t need. In the end everyone wins and there’s still a good deal of money left in your wallet.

5. Embrace it

My grandma had a (literal) room dedicated to the books she had collected over 20+ years. The room was wasted space and it was a hassle keeping it organized since each week she brought home more. One day I bought her a Kindle and everything changed. Not only was the space freed up but she started saving hundreds of dollars each year by going digital.

My recommendation: Embrace the change of technology and make it a habit to think of it in a monetary sense. Next time you see something – pull out your phone and check out how much it may cost online – because if you can beat that urge to buy it right there, you’ll often find it for an incredible discount online. Also, find ways to digitize your media so you’re not spending a ton of money on physical copies of movies, music, and literature. Doing so will save the space and put more back into your funds.

What actions have you taken that have led to a significant decrease in your monthly expenses as far as technology goes?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Our Broken Promise Is Now Broken

It was seven months ago that I posted about how I broke a promise regarding a new TV, specifically that I decided to replace our 15 year old 32″ tube TV with a new flat screen TV, even though I’d said a while back that I’d keep the tube TV until it died (my guess, that TV is still out there somewhere, as good as ever).

For seven months I had no regrets.  Until I turned it on the other day and saw some lines running up the center of the TV.  And a surefire spot at the bottom where it had likely suffered a crack.


I still have no idea what happened, although my guess is that the kids may have been playing with something and hit it.  I have seen our two year old throw some toys, and unfortunately she has thrown some ‘hard’ toys as well as the typical toys that are OK to toss around (balloons, soft balls and the like).

It’s weird because when the TV is off, I can’t see the cracks at all.  I’ve held a flashlight up to the screen and looked as close as I can, and can’t see anything.  I’m thinking that maybe the actual crack is under the lip of the plastic edge of the set.

Still, I’m a little sick thinking about it.

The TV is under the original warranty, and I also have a SquareTrade warranty that kicks in after that one runs out, but from everything I’ve seen, any sort of crack is pretty much going to be denied.

Fixing it seems pretty questionable as well.  Most people who have posted about these things have found that replacing the panel is just as expensive as the TV was originally.


mb-201309tvAs of right now, we’re still using it.  You can see from the attached photo how things look.  The lines are noticeable, but they’re in a pretty limited range of the viewing area.  The biggest bummer is that it’s basically in the dead center of the screen.  You can see at the very bottom the black / cracked areas where the damage likely took place.

After I found it, I brought my wife downstairs to show her.  I asked the kids if they remembered anything, and I got a variety of answers.  Either way, they’re too young to remember or really know what happened.  Even if it was something that they did or remembered doing, what am I going to do, take the money from their college fund to replace it?  No, it’s one of those things.

For now, we’re trying to keep a better eye to make sure that they aren’t throwing things.  If and when we replace this TV, it would be beyond ridiculous if the same thing happened again.  Though, since I have no proof, who knows?  Could it have just cracked from vibrations or from some weakness in the manufacturing process?  I guess we’ll never know.

The plan

So, what’s the plan?  Nothing for now.  As I’ve said, the TV is still viewable, though it does get distracting.

What I’m thinking is that since the damage seems to be fairly isolated, we might replace the TV when we find a deal that’s as good or better (I paid $449 for this TV), and move it down to the basement.  We have a play room down there that currently has 27″ and though it was a low priority, I was going to jump on a 37″ or similar set that I could find for $250 or so.  Since we aren’t down there very much, the damage is something we could live with, and say we spent $450 on a replacement, the total difference between what we were planning on spending for the downstairs TV would be roughly $200.

It’s not chump change, but it’d be something I could swallow.

My only concern with this plan is moving the TV.  I’m afraid that since there’s already a crack, picking it up and carrying it downstairs could put stress on the already weak panel and make it unusable by the time we got it downstairs.  I guess that’d be a risk we’d have to take.

With the new TV, I wouldn’t have to buy a warranty, since the SquareTrade warranty we bought would be able to be transferred over to the new set.  So the total out of pocket would be whatever we paid.  Small consolation.

Either way, the thought remains the same.


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Promises Are Meant To Be Broken

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about how I had made a vow that I would not replace our old TV with a new flat screen TV until it died.

Well, I broke my vow.

The old TV was a 32″ Toshiba tube TV.  I purchased it in early 1997 for around $800 from Best Buy.  At the time, I had been out of college for just under a year, and this was a great TV for my roommate and I.  Pretty much everybody else in our age group was sitting at a 27″ or lower.

We enjoyed the heck out of that TV, and our apartment was the de facto hangout place for our friends.  Not just because of the TV, but it made watching movies, watching TV, and most importantly, playing video games, a total blast.  We played a lot of Madden football (Madden ’98!) and NBA Live ’97.  Lots of great times!

At the years went on, we all grew up.  My roommate moved out and eventually to the other side of the state.  I ended up buying a condo in 1999.  The TV came with.  However, even within a couple of years, the TV was pretty average, and a few years after that when flat screen HD TVs started hitting the market, it was nothing at all special.

Except to me.  I still took great care of the TV, making sure to be very careful moving it, cleaning it regularly, and trying to make it last as long as possible.

Eventually, time passed up the TV, which was evident when HD programming was the norm and the once proud TV could, try as it might, no longer deliver the great picture, top resolution, and amazing viewing experience that it once was known for.

Still, I made the resolution that I would keep the TV until it died.  But, as I already said, I broke the vow.

Here’s why:

  1. When I wrote that article, the TV appeared to be going south – Around the time that I wrote that, there were some spots in the bottom corner of the TV which were different colors than elsewhere on the screen.  I thought the TV was about ready to go, but one day, it suddenly corrected itself and rarely reappeared.  I guess, yes, I had been actually hoping in a way that the TV would go.
  2. We found a great deal on a great TV – I always keep a look out for TV deals.  I have passed over many, many cheap TVs because they didn’t meet the top standard that I was hoping for, and I’d passed over a lot of high quality sets because I couldn’t find a price I was happy with.  Finally, I found one (another Toshiba, in fact) that was rated very highly by professionals and customers, and it was at a fantastic price.  Bottom line, we got a 50″ plasma TV for $450, which normally retailed for at least $650 elsewhere.
  3. We had the money for it – All of our credit cards are cash back reward cards.  We put the money in a discretionary fund with the sole purpose to purchase TVs and other electronic items.  We already purchased a small flat screen for our kitchen and a decent size TV for our bedroom over the last few years.  Last year we got checks totaling nearly $400, plus with money we had still in the account since the last purchase, we were more than able to cover the cost.
  4. Watching certain things just wasn’t fun anymore – When HD TV was first introduced, I was fine with watching shows in standard definition.  However, sporting events in particular got to be a lot less easy to watch as the feeds were changed to accommodate HD viewers.  This meant that our 32″ screen was essentially shrunk to about half that size as they would ‘letterbox’ the signal for standard defintion output.  When our Detroit Tigers were in the World Series last year, it was tough to read the score of the game, that’s how small the viewable screen size was.
  5. The old TV well exceeded it’s value – When I spent the $800 on the old TV, that was a ton of money, especially for someone who hadn’t cracked anywhere near even $30,000 a year in salary.  Still, getting sixteen years out of the TV, we definitely got the $50 per year that worked out to.  I realized that, although I did make that vow, that when I looked at how much value I had received from the TV compared to what I expected when I first purchased the set, I had come out way ahead.  That reduced the guilt that I felt from breaking my promise (though I still did get a little choked up when I pulled that plug for the last time).
  6. It was or would have cost us money – The cost of running a flat screen is a lot less, so while I might have only been spending $2-3 per month on electricity costs, even cutting that in half with a more efficient set will help offset a bit of those costs.  In addition, I could tell that the TV stand we have, though rated for a heavy set, was beginning to show a little sagging.  If it had gotten worse, chances are we would have had to replace or repair the stand, which was not something I wanted to do at all.  So, by getting rid of the old TV, we potentially saved the stand and will get many more years from that.

All in all, I don’t feel (very) guilty about the purchase, though I did struggle with taking something out of use that technically still did work. After all, the old TV did still function and did exactly what it was supposed to do.  It just didn’t do what TVs today are capable of, and that of course is just a sign of the advancement of technology.

Readers, be honest.  Did I do OK by breaking my vow or should I have held out a bit longer?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.