4 Tips to Hack the Cost of Software

April 4, 2015

10:00 pm

Sometimes (oftentimes?) it seems like some software is just too expensive for its own good. If you are a startup still struggling to close the first investment round, the price tag may get critical. Here are four tips on how you can get major discounts on various software for personal and professional use.

1. Look for cheaper (free) alternatives

It may sound like a no-brainier, however most of us still tend to forget that the most popular products usually have cheaper or free options to fulfill the same needs. For instance, instead of getting a paid membership with Basecamp to collaborate on the projects, get a free account with Trello – a simple, yet powerful software to manage ongoing tasks, track progress, and keep all the communication and documentation in one place. 

Microsoft Office can be replaced with free open-source Open Office. It may not look as visually appealing, but has the same set of functions and costs exactly $99.99 less, meaning free. Unless you are a professional designer or photographer, you don’t need to spend $11.99 per month for a Photoshop cloud account. Canva, Picmonkey, BeFunky are among the few cool free photo editing tools to create social media materials, banners, leaflets, posters, and pretty much anything else you need. Even Windows OS can be replaced with a free alternative like Ubuntu which is no longer a geeky OS used by developers only, but a secure graphical system with loads of handy features Windows lacks.

2. Hawk for discounts and master couponing

Like with other products on the market, it’s best to look around before making the purchase. Unless the timing is crucial and usually it is not, take your time to run a price comparison check between different online software market places. Install a deal monitoring browser extension like PriceBlink or Invisible Hand. Also, keep an eye on special deals sites like Woot and check out if there’s any coupons on Discountrue or Retail Me Not.

Another pro tip – follow developers and software companies on Twitter and Facebook. Typically, they post special deals and coupons and announce time-limited flash sales on social media. Following them is a great way to be the first one to know when something goes on sale. As well, consider subscribing to their newsletter as the most loyal followers typically get the biggest discounts.

3. Get a student copy (even if you are not a student)

It’s no secret that all major software companies offer the same software for half the price to students. If you shop online the only thing you need is a .edu email address. Most universities allow you to keep your email even after you graduate or offer email forwarding services that keeps your account valid. Alternatively, here’s a tricky way how you can get a .edu email.

4. Opt for software bundles

When you purchase a software bundle, you get a bunch of programs for a really low price. It may be a terrific value for money deal, however there are two major draws of buying a bundle:

  • they often can become an “impulse purchase” as bundle deals run for a limited time. Make sure you do need that program before hitting the “pay” button.
  • chances you get your favorite program are rather low. Software bundles unusually include new products that seek more exposure and users. However, bundles are usually filled with new alternatives to popular software, so you could still score a nice deal.

LifeHacker posts some decent software bundle deals once in a while.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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