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$250 is a lot of money. Of course, it could save your life, but it's a lot of money to many people and people who are starting hiking should not feel the need to buy a $250 gadget. Those are the things that end up being bought on eBay for $25 by experienced hikers.
You could start by letting someone know where you intend to go (your path and maybe a backup path), tell them when you leave and when you will be back. If they don't hear from you they can report you missing and rescuers know where to start.
And there are options in between. For example, in Iceland the rescue services released an app where you input your personal details (including next-of-kin), and then you press a button at the start of a trip to have your smartphone track your position and send it to their servers. When you finish your trip and press a button, they delete the data, but if they need to find you they can see where you went, what path you took, and maybe even exactly where you are right now. Worst case scenario they have a search radius based on the time of the last known position. There's also an emergency button that notifies rescue services and sends them your GPS coordinates.
But if you're doing long-term hiking or boating far out in the wilderness, then you should probably get a fancy beacon.
Iceland has a "112" app that allows you to either check in via sms that sends your location to their server which is useful to let them know where you were before you disappeared when you are going on a mountain or a glacier trip,
or call them right after the app sends your GPS to them.
Link to app