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Save Time, Money, and Your Marriage for Under $300

by Ryan Guina

Garmin nuvi 780

Sounds impossible, right? How can you save time, money, and your marriage for less than $300!?!

Well, it is possible… Let me introduce you to my new friend – Mr. Garmin, also known as a GPS system. I first met him last year when my coworker was going on a long road trip and did some research. A couple days later he decided on the feature rich Garmin nuvi 780, which was one of the better GPS systems on the market at the time. He bought it, then told me about all the features. I was hooked.

I had been wanting a GPS system for months, and was planning on buying one. However, I got word not to buy one before Christmas. So I put my dreams of saving time, money and my marriage on hold. Thankfully my wife and I have a strong marriage!*

Christmas arrived and I received a very nice Tom-Tom. It was a quality GPS, but it didn’t have all the features the Garmin had, and most importantly, it didn’t have the larger screen. My parents, being the wonderful and cool parents they are, told me to go ahead and exchange it for what I wanted. I’m not normally one to exchange Christmas gifts – after all, a lot of thought went into it. But… I had to make an exception this time.

Just check out the Garmin nuvi 780 features:

  • 4.3 inch screen
  • Blue tooth for cell phone
  • mp3 player
  • FM modulator
  • anti-theft feature
  • 3D or 2D display
  • MSN Direct real time updates (traffic, weather, gas prices, news, stocks, movie times, etc.). It comes with 3 months free, after that it is $5 per month, or you can buy an annual or lifetime subscription.
  • Everything else you will find in a quality GPS system: turn by turn directions, street names, area attractions, restaurants, displays speed zones, and much more.

How much does it cost? This particular model is a steal right now – it started off at over $600, and can now be had through Amazon for around $240. I also bought the friction dashboard mount for $30. In some states it is illegal to mount items on the windshield. And the friction mount is awesome – it doesn’t even slide on hard turns. (Just a note about price: this model has been dropping in recent weeks. I believe it has been discontinued for a newer model, but this one works fine for me. You can always buy updated maps and get software updates.).

I’ve enjoyed using this GPS system and I’m excited because even though I’ve had it for a couple months now, I get to take it on my first long road trip this evening. I’m looking forward to it!

Do you need a GPS system?

If you do a lot of driving, or if you are new to an area, then I think having a GPS system is a good idea. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get one, and now that I have one, I can’t imagine going without. I plan on taking it with me on every long drive, even if I know the way, and it’s small enough to toss in a suitcase if we fly somewhere and need to rent a car. Oh, and you can save three of the most important things: time, money, and your marriage.

What are you waiting for? Go buy a GPS system!

*My wife and I don’t actually fight about things like directions, but if you do, then a GPS is definitely for you!


Published or updated April 10, 2009.
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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Adam

How does the real time traffic work? I am getting tired of looking down at my iPhone to check. Besides, I’m not too sure how up to date the iPhone is because it let me down the other day.

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2 Ryan

Adam: It works on satellite updates via MSN direct, so it is real time, but it only works as quickly and as well as the info that is fed into the system. It has saved me some time so far, but I have also read user reviews that updates may lag a little bit.

You can get more information at the MSN Direct website and the Amazon website.

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3 Megan

I have the absolute worst sense of direction and I love my Garmin. It’s great when you move to a new city or are scoping out new areas. I can’t imaging being without it.

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4 tom

GPS is awesome and very simple to use especially if you travel to new places or feel like taking a random road trip.
However, you should be ready to probably upgrade every 2 years or so because of constant new improvements, plus the software needs to be updated after a year or so which is another expense.

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5 Miranda

I’ve always had a pretty good sense of direction and an ability to navigate using a map. But sometimes I think a GPS would be nice — especially with the price coming down. And, of course, a map can’t tell you how the traffic will be.

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6 Craig

What type of research did you do going into this? I would like a GPS system since I am bad at directions, don’t have that type of money lying around yet to get one. But if I did, I would want it to be larger and top of the line. How did you decide on this over others?

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7 Ryan

Craig: I looked at several options, and bang for the buck, this model had the most features. To get the bluetooth, mp3 player and FM modulator on other models you would have to spend close to $500.

I also think that Garmin makes some of the best GPS systems in the industry. So for me it was a matter of one of the best brands, plus all the great features. Trust me, you won’t be able to beat this model at $240!

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8 Miss M

Mr M needs one but I was born a sailor with a compass in my head and can find my way pretty much anywhere. I will admit that last year in Australia I got one for my rental car, it was hard enough driving on the wrong side of the road! But I learned to not completely trust it, sometimes it gave bad directions. I haven’t tried any that are available in the states, I’m used to the ones meant for sailors not drivers.

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9 Jimmy

I’m a huge fan of Google Maps for BlackBerry. Sure, it doesn’t have all the features of a dedicated GPS unit, but it does use actual GPS (as opposed to cellular triangulation) so it’s extremely accurate and provides half-way decent traffic information. Added bonus – no extra expense!

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10 Ryan

Not bad, Jimmy, but I don’t have the Blackberry and a GPS for my phone would have added an extra few bucks every month, but wouldn’t have come with as many features. I also read that the GPS service that is available for my phone has slower processors and is not quite as fast – meaning those turns can come up on you quickly!

Overall, I am very satisfied with this model and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who needs one. But hey, if yours works, go with that – it’s much cheaper! ;-)

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11 Ryan

Miss M: I can find my way pretty much anywhere too if I have a map, but the GPS is good for detours if if you quickly need to fins an alternate route somewhere. Another thing I have noticed is that the GPS will sometimes find shortcuts on routes that you have traveled dozens of times. The added features are also nice.

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12 TStrump

I don’t drive a lot which is why I always question where I’m going.
I even get nervous visiting my sister even though they’ve lived in the sample place for over 5 years. Hmm, maybe there’s another issue here …?
Might have to pick one of these up.

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13 Mrs. Micah

I’ve got a decent inner sense of direction, but my mom should really have one of these. She’s dyslexic and it transfers to her directional sense as well. So if she doesn’t know the area, she can get very turned around. On the other hand…it also might freak her out, as she doesn’t like machines talking to her.

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14 Curious Cat Investing Blog

No question they can save a huge amount of time, if you drive a lot. Saving money is good but saving aggravation is even better to me. And being stuck in traffic without an idea of how to best get where you want to go is very annoying.

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15 Philip

“To get the bluetooth, mp3 player and FM modulator”
I don’t see why I would need these items on my GPS. I use it in my car and don’t see that I want to listen to music from there or have the bluetooth?

I have the Nuvi 200 and all it does is directions. I would like to have the real time traffic and updates but outside of those do you think the other features get used while in a car?

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16 Ryan

Philip: The Bluetooth is nice, especially if you have Bluetooth compatible phone or if you live in a state where it is illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving unless you use a hands-free device. It’s also nice if you drive a standard – talking on a cell phone while shifting is dangerous.

I used the FM modulator to listen to the directions on my recent trip. It was easier to hear the directions through the car stereo than from the unit. When you listen to the mp3s the sound dims for the voice announcements then comes back up to volume, which makes it easier to listen to music and not have to worry about not hearing directions.

Are these features necessary? Not at all. They are a convenience though, and were attractive features when I was choosing which GPS system I wanted. I had a rough budget of $300-$350 and this model had the most features in that price range. I was happier that I cam in under budget.

I could have spent less and I still would have gotten the essential features – a large screen and a powerful GPS system. But I seldom buy myself gadgets and I wanted this one to have enough features to keep me happy for the next few years.

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17 DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad

I use my GPS for work, but I still have maps in the car– it is not infalliable.

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18 Ryan

DDFD: We have maps in the car as well, and usually carry a mapquest print out as backup. But it’s great for last second detours or finding alternate routes.

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19 DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad

Ryan– I call the last minute detours and alternate routes “freelancing”. If I am on a highway and stuck in traffic, I reprogram for “least use of freeways” and learn a new way home– going in a way I never used or have made with a map. GPS is great for that.

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