If you've saved up some extra money and want to spend it on something cool, it can be difficult to decide between all the great gadgets and toys out there. Reader isaaclyman shares a calculator, created with Google Docs, that will help you decide what purchases will get you the most for your money.
We've tweaked the original spreadsheet a bit to make it easier to use. It works like this: plug in the name and cost of up to four different things you could buy with your money, then answer the following questions on a scale of 1 to 5:
- How fun is this item? This is pretty self-explanatory: how much will you enjoy using this item? "Fun" can be defined as anything you want that isn't work-related.
- How useful is this item? This can be anything not on the "fun" side of things: do you need it for work? Will it make you money? If this somehow "betters" you in any way, add its value in this category.
- How much do I need this item right now? Rate your sense of urgency in this category. For example, if you're looking at a new phone and your old one is breaking, this category would have a high value. Similarly, if you're thinking of buying a new suit but you already have many suits in your closet, the value here would be low.
- How long will this last me? Again, this is self-explanatory. Using the previous examples, a new phone will probably last you a few years at most — less if you tend to upgrade often. A new suit, on the other hand, could last you the rest of your life. A higher value is good, because it means you won't have to buy a new one in another year or two.
- How well will this item retain value? This category could mean different things depending on the item in question. If it's a gadget you plan to sell when you upgrade, how much value will it lose? If it's a new car, will it lose value quicker than other comparable cars?
Note, of course, that you may value different things than the ones on this list, or they may not apply to certain items. For example, if you're comparing things you're unlikely to resell, the last category doesn't mean very much — so you can replace that category with something else if you so choose.
Once you've filled in the cost and values of each category (the yellow boxes), the spreadsheet will calculate an "Awesomeness" value for each item and divide it by the cost. The item with the best value per dollar will be given a value of "100" in the green box, showing you which item gives you the most benefit for your dollar and how closely the others compare. You can see an example of this above, or hit the link below to check out the calculator for yourself. It's a read-only Google Doc, so you'll want to copy it to your own Google Docs account to edit it.
The Value Calculator [Google Docs]