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A Father's Day Gift Cost-Per-Use Analysis

Published
By Lindsay Sakraida, dealnews staff writer

While we here at dealnews are big fans of inexpensive purchases, we're also concerned about long-term value. For example, a $10 shirt is a steal, but if you never wear it, it's just $10 down the drain. And if you wear it once and it falls apart, same loss. So, while our readers prepare to shell out some dough for Father's Day, we decided to run a little cost-per-use analysis* of some potential gifts to see which options stretch your dollar the most.


The perennial tie: It is a time-honored tradition to default to a tie when you aren't quite sure what to get for Father's Day. But unless Dad works at an office with a strict dress code, the only time he'll likely wear this apparel accoutrement is during festivities surrounding weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. So, while this Lands' End Sail Stripe Tie for $14.99 is a great deal, we'd wager the average Dad will only don it maybe every other month, for an average of $2.50 per use.

Price: Lands' End tie, $14.99 + free shipping via code "COOLER" and PIN "4353", $25 off


A gadget with a purpose: While many people assume a GPS is only necessary for trips to unfamiliar destinations, it also provides valuable information (like traffic updates) to assist in everyday use. For a conservative estimation, let's say it will get used once per week. The Garmin nüvi 255WT 4.3" GPS with lifetime traffic — the least expensive new GPS we've listed in the past week that's still valid — is available for $79.99, or $1.54 per use. While this average might seem middling, keep in mind that the importance per use is pretty high. (Particularly if your Dad frequents places in which getting lost might be highly undesirable, like the desert or the Jersey Shore during the summer.)

Price: Garmin nüvi GPS, $79.99 + free shipping, a low by $29


The everlasting memory: If your Dad is one of those sentimental types who takes great pride in his offspring, then a photo print could potentially get the most use, as it will probably be prominently — and permanently, for a time — displayed. Therefore, the cost per use for this Snapfish 5x7" Photo Panel, clocking in at a total of $17.23, is pretty good. Since dividing it by infinity is too mind-blowing, we'll just settle and say it gets used once per day, which comes to $0.04 per use. Note that, if you go this route, you should take care in selecting an image that's extremely amusing and/or sentimental; otherwise, despite a favorable cost per use, the enjoyment quotient will vary wildly.

Price: Photo panel, starting from $11.24 via code "THATSDAD" + $6 s&h, at least $4 off


A subtle statement about his punctuality: As far as accessories for men go, a watch is pretty safe territory. But to calculate this cost per use, you must consider many factors, which are best expressed in a "Choose Your Own Adventure" sort of way. So, if he doesn't already own a watch, has he expressed wanting one?

  • Yes: If the watch ticks and isn't of a style that's offensive to a Dad's aesthetic sensibilities, it should get daily use. This Columbia Unisex Transit Chronograph Watch is a great mid-range option for $49.97, or $0.14 per use.
  • No: You'll be lucky if this thing even sees the light of day while sitting untouched on his dresser.
If he already owns and wears a watch, has he expressed needing a new one?
  • Yes: See the affirmative in the above section.
  • No: This calculation is iffy. Dads don't really like to change their tried-and-true basic accessories unless they're literally falling apart. And even then, don't underestimate the durability of duct tape.
Price: Columbia watch, $49.97 + free shipping via code "BH788", a low by $32


The iPad: Sure, they're expensive, but even the most stubborn anti-Apple user has a tendency to eventually clutch this sleek slab of technology to his chest. And now with TV streaming services proliferating, your Dad is likely to keep it handy throughout the day. (And if he falls victim to the wiles of Angry Birds, forget it.) The refurbished Apple iPad 16GB Wi-Fi Tablet is the least expensive iPad we've seen without contract obligations, and we'd conservatively estimate that it comes to $0.48 per use. And, as we're sure Dad would like to point out, it's a much better value than the tie.

Price: iPad 16GB, $349 + free shipping, $58 less than a new unit


*All calculations are based on use in a typical year.

Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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