Monday, January 19, 2015

Frugal Shopper -- TMI On-Line?

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, lately you've seen post after post of the number of steps a Facebook Friend has taken.  And it is unlikely that the raw number is typed in, but rather a wrist selfie showing the number of steps in snazzy neon digital display.  And if you are like me, one wanting to do the right thing in the health department, you find yourself wondering do I get 10,000 steps a day?  And sooner or later you think maybe I should measure my steps?  Which leads to what is a fitbit, and do I need one?

My weekend errands took me to our neighborhood Target, and I decided to take a look at these Fitbits I'd been reading about, assuming they actually stocked them.  As I wandered into Electronics I inquired and was told "yes, we sell them, over there in Wearable Electronics".  Approaching the display my eyes landed on the price tags.  To the left was $59, aligning with the price I somehow had implanted in my mind (likely from a Facebook Ad).  And as my eyes moved right, the prices rose to over $200!  What on earth do these things do, all I want is to know how many steps I take each day.  I said it to myself, at first.

A helpful clerk informed me that this little bitty things are powerful -- they'll record my steps and tell me a calorie burn.  Advanced models will measure my sleep and some will even wake me up in additional to "going online" and coordinating with my Smart Phone.  I thanked her, but said, really -- I don't need all that, I just want a pedometer.  At which point I was lead out of Wearable Electronics to the Sportswear section.  Hanging on a hook was a simple pedometer, costing $10.46.  And yes, that is what I left the store with.

Why not a Fitbit?  I have a Smart Phone, it wakes me up and should it fail I have a backup system I call "children" and "cats" -- both have assured that I have not overslept in the past decade, if not longer.  A device to monitor my sleep?  Unless said device can ensure that none of the two children, three cats or night owl husband will wake me up once the lights are out......we'll I do not need feedback on the quality of my sleep. Thanks anyway.  And why on earth would I pay a hundred and fifty dollars to have my number of steps posted on-line?  Yes, there are motivational programs and peer pressure with friends, etc., but I do not need any of that.  I just want a count of my steps, and I can get that for $10.46.  So I did.

In about 5 to 7 years Fitbits will have come down to a price point close to what I paid Sunday. Moreover, the future version will have to link to a Smart Phone because it will not have a display like the old school pedometer I bought.  Who told me this?  The night owl husband of mine, who is also an electronics engineer.  Yes, keeping with our frugal trend.....never pay for the technology when it is new. Wait, let the powers that be work the bugs out, and buy an older model for far less.

I do not mean to rain on the parade of Fitbit users, I just prefer to go old school with electronics when I have a simple need.  Ultra frugality in this area allows me to buy higher quality in areas that mean more to me on a personal level....footwear, travel and healthcare -- areas where I'll pay more for superior quality.  Techie products?  The bells and whistles would be wasted on my luddite ways.

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