Free apps make this smartwatch a fitness, health and money tracker's most cost-effective purchase.
The Apple Watch is not a necessity, no matter what your tech-savvy friends, co-workers or kids tell you, but it’s not a complete extravagance either.
Buy an Apple Watch, learn all of its (fairly simple to understand) ins-and-outs, and you may well find — as I did — that its convenience and savings pays for the device, and then some.
If you doubt that, I understand.
When I walked out of the Apple store a few months ago carrying the brand’s distinctive black-and-white plastic bag, which held my new 38 mm Rose Gold Aluminum Case with Lavender Sport Band, I felt like the proverbial “fool and her money.” I had stopped by the Apple store to find a quick fix for my MacBook Pro. No sooner had I hopped off the stool at the Genius Bar with my computer problem solved than I walked to the glass-covered display case full of Apple Watches. And there it was, the watch I had spotted in a glossy magazine ad.
A fellow shopper urged me not to buy one; he urged me to wait for the next generation, which he assured me would soon be released (it still isn’t out). Almost as soon as he left, I flagged a sales person (nope, can’t blame the purchase on a hard sell) and handed over my credit card. Just $299 plus tax later, I owned an Apple Watch.
No, I didn’t spend $17,000 for the 18-Karat Rose Gold version — that has the same capabilities as my low-end model. If I’m ever reincarnated as a millionaire, I’ll consider it.
Driving home — feeling like a fool for spending so much on a fun gadget — I decided to dig into various online tutorials and guides to discover how I could make the watch pay for itself.
What I found — both during the impromptu in-store tutorial the day I bought it and through my own research — has made me a believer in the cost-effectiveness of the watch.
By performing these five functions, my Apple Watch takes the place of all the following technology, and it can save you a bundle:
1. Fitness tracker
I have owned almost every kind of fitness tracker out there, from the Bodybugg to the Jawbone Up and SparkPeople Tracker. I used them all with some success, but they just weren’t convenient. The Bodybugg was very bulky on my upper arm, the Jawbone Up was too obvious and the SparkPeople Tracker was so small it was easy to forget. The obvious bonus to “Activity” — the free application I use on my Apple Watch — is convenience. It’s on my wrist all day so no need to remember it or switch an activity “on.” It just records all of my steps and movements. And it has a handy feature to remind users who have been sitting too long to stand up. I was an early Bodybugg adopter and loved it. I also paid hundreds for it. The Activity app on my watch is equal to that if not better. Plus, it seamlessly syncs to my iPhone and MacPro. All the other trackers I used had bugs that made syncing problematic.
Estimated savings: $69 – $150
2. Food tracker/calorie counter
Yes, there are free calorie trackers out there, but if you enjoy cooking at home you likely won’t use them. The reason — you often have to input each ingredient into the program. Many times, basic foods (think brown rice or grapefruit) are missing or seemingly inaccurate, so you then need to use other resources to find the correct count. Or guess. The Lose It! app — another freebie for the Apple Watch — allows me to scan in bar codes right from food packages or choose a food from the extensive library (such as a banana). And since the tracker is always with me, tracking what I’ve eaten is easy.
Estimated savings: Up to $240
3. Heart rate monitor
Maybe it’s just me, but I could never get the heart rate monitors I bought to work with any degree of accuracy. I’d be midway through my workout and realize it wasn’t working, so I’d stop, spend time fiddling with it, and then give up. I’ve had no such problem with the heart rate monitor — yes, free — that’s on the Apple Watch. Perhaps that’s because the sensors are built into the back of the watch and, again, I always have it on.
Estimated savings: $30 to $250
Most people have forsaken the once popular portable GPS systems for cars, opting to use ones that come with their cars or on their mobile phones. The free maps application on my Apple Watch is so handy, though, I can’t imagine driving without it. The system provides me with audio directions (and, yes, I could look at its map if I was not driving) and it also gently vibrates to indicate the direction in which I should turn.
Estimated savings: Up to $500
5. Spending tracker
When I travel for business I find it’s easy to forget small expenses for which I didn’t get a receipt. When I look back I don’t know where the cash I had went and find it impossible to remember each purchase. The Mint app — again, free — is an easy way for me to track the $4 for a snack here, $2 for tips there and other expenses. A few of my friends use Mint for much more sophisticated tracking so at the end of the month, they know exactly how much they spent on food, entertainment, clothing and other items. Now that I think about it, I should do that, too!
Estimated savings: Incalculable!
What technology could you shed now that you have a smartphone or smartwatch? What’s your favorite time-saving or money-saving app? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.