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The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.

I almost fell for it, the common trap of buying more than you need.

I Need…

Recently, I had begun thinking about buying a GPS watch for running.  My typical running style is to just run as fast as my body is willing to run on any given day.  Sometimes that’s a quick pace and other days it is a slower pace.  That works for the majority of my runs, but on the really long runs, that can be problematic.

It becomes a problem when I start out running too fast on a long run.  I essentially tire myself out to quickly and I don’t have the energy to finish my run.  In theory, I could just time how fast I’m running over a given mile and adjust my pace if needed.  The problem is that I don’t always know where a given mile is on my run, as my routes vary with the distance.

This led me to think that if I had a GPS watch that could tell me what my pace was at any given moment, that I could better discipline myself during my long runs.  The watch would also come in very handy for the marathon itself, so that I could make sure that I am maintaining the pace I wanted.

The Hunt

With this mindset, I started looking into the various watches that are out on the market.  I found that I could get one for as little as $50 or $60 and as high as $250.  The watch for $250 would be able to monitor my heart rate along with numerous other functions.  There are a couple of people I run with who have watches like that and they certainly use that functionality.  However, they are more advanced in their training routines than I am.

After searching around and reading some reviews, I found one that met my basic needs and was only about $100.  That was pretty much what I was hoping to spend.  I did some additional searching and found a few more watches that were in the $150 range.  They sounded really nice and I almost went for them.  They had the basic functionality that I needed and then some.  Thankfully, that’s where I stopped.

I asked myself whether the extra functionality was worth the extra money to me.  Turns out, it wasn’t.

Do You Need the Bells and Whistles?

This is where people can get into trouble financially, especially with larger purchases.  When buying a car, you need to decide “what do I need?”.  When my wife and I bought our car a few years ago, we ended up going with just the base model.  Why?  That was all that we needed.  Sure, an entertainment system would have been nice.  An onboard navigation system would have been nice.  Those things though would have added on at least an additional $3,000.

This same line of thinking should be applied when searching for a house.  When we bought our house 4+ years ago, we knew we only needed 3 bedrooms.  We had a two-bedroom condo at the time and were planning on having our second child, so we decided that we needed another bedroom.  Our condo was about 1300 sq ft.  So, when we thought about the size house we needed, we thought about 2000-2500 sq ft would be sufficient.  Our house ended up being about 2600 sq ft when you factor in the finished basement.

When you add up all the purchase decisions that you have to make in a given year, imagine if you paid 5-10% more than you needed to pay.  How much money would that represent over the course of a year?  What could you do with that extra money?