Nov 26 2013

Saving Money on Software 2: The Wrath of Khan

Yes, I just used a Star Trek reference for the title. I’m a huge nerd and I admit that fact. Welcome to part 2 of how to save money on software. Feel free to go back to part one which dealt with open source software if you want to catch up.

Freemium Software

Freemium software is another option if you are looking to reduce your software expenses. This group of software is one that follows the freemium business model.


The freemium business model is fairly straight forward. You offer a base product for free and then charge for additional features or services. This works well for both parties involved.


On the business end, it is very easy to get consumers to try their product because it doesn’t cost the consumer anything. For consumers, they get a chance to try to evaluate a product. If they like it, they can pay money for extra features only if they need it. Otherwise they are free to use the software as is.


Smartphone and tablet applications are both great places to see examples of freemium software in action. The developer will offer two different versions of their applications. There will be a free version that will contain all the bare bone essentials and a pro version that comes with extra features. You can use the free version all you want or pay money to upgrade to the pro version to get the extra features.


Video games are another area where the freemium model is widely available. Many choose to make use of an in game currency that can be acquired for real money. This in game currency can then be used to purchase cosmetic items or to circumvent tasks that would take A LOT of time. Facebook games really incorporate that last one heavily. I fear the figures for how much people have dropped on candy crush just to advance in the game.

Software Products and Freemium Options

Most of us aren’t dropping money on Facebook games and usually will aim for free apps for our phones and tablets. So what are areas where we can use freemium software.


Anti-Virus Software: Norton and McAfee are the two most people wind up spending money on every year to keep up and running on their computer. There are other options though with Avast and AVG (affiliate link). These two companies offer free versions of their products which function just as well as their proprietary counterparts.


What features are missing though if you choose to not go the professional route? Are you willingly putting your computer and information at risk? The answer is no. The features are more convenience based. With Avast, for example, the pro version will let you scan periodic virus scans of your machine. If you stick with the free version, you have to start the scan manually.


Finance and Budgeting: I mentioned Quicken being the main software in part 1. Two online services that can be utilized are Personal Capital. The services are completely free to use for tracking your expenses and doing budget analysis. If you want to, you can pay Personal Capital to utilize their financial advisors.


I will also throw Mint in here as well (owned by the same folks who develop Quicken). They don’t really offer any paid services but do provide advertiser links for 3rd party services you could use to save money. That and they don’t really fit the model for open source either.

Student / Work Place Discount

The last method I am going to address is making use of a student or work place discount. Not every program is going to have an open source or freemium alternative. Even if they are, not all of them are going to be robust enough to replace your normal product. That is when you should try to see if your school or work offers a discount for software purchases.


kirk screaming khan


One of the easiest examples would be with Microsoft Office. Almost every school and the businesses I’ve worked at all had deals with Microsoft. This would allow me to purchase MS Office at a fraction of its retail price. I think my current job has a deal that would let me buy it for $10 (not Office 360 but the 2013 version)*.


If you check into work, chances are good that you might have a similar deal yourself. These types of arrangements benefit Microsoft because it keeps you locked into their products and makes you less likely to change. Especially if you are a student given most people are more likely to resist change the longer they have used something. It pays great dividends for them down the road.


As financially literate consumers, we might as well use that to our advantage. If we always look to use the school / work discount, we can ensure that we never get roped in to paying full price.


You now have 3 different methods for how you can try to save money the next time you need to acquire some software for your computer. Look first to see if you can find an open source or freemium version that suites your needs. If a free viable alternative isn’t available, then see if you can get a discount through your school or place of employment. If the software is necessary for your job, you might even be able to get your employer to reimburse you for the expense. Always keep a watchful eye out to help stop your computer or smart phone from becoming a money trap.


Have you ever used freemium software or utilized a work place discount for software. What other methods have you used to try and save money on software applications (keep it legal, folks)? Let me know your thoughts below.


*Even though I have this option available, I opted instead to just roll with Libre Office at home. I don’t like having to rely on a work place discount to make the programs affordable.


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  1. E.M.

    When you mentioned the freemium options, apps definitely came to mind. There are so many “add-on” purchases you can make in them, especially in games, while you can play for free. It can be tricky to stay away from the temptation.

    I do like the option of trying something for free, especially if it’s a program I rarely use. I was really happy when Adobe made their second version of Photoshop free for download. I can’t stand Gimp, and while it’s obviously not as advanced as the later models, it suits my needs just fine!
    E.M. recently posted…Are Remote Car Starters Worth It?

    1. Micro

      I’ve had to use photoshop for work a few times and when I first tried out Gimp, the layout was really screwy to me. I can understand why people might not like it. That’s awesome though that you can get an earlier version of photoshop for free, though. Most companies would just send it to the scrap heap and forbib the public from using it again.

  2. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

    I really need to start taking advantage of free software. I use excel for a lot of budgeting, but would love to enjoy the extra analysis of mint or personal capital.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…How To Vacation When “Broke”.

  3. DC @ Young Adult Money

    Over the past few years I’ve purchased Office 2010 and 2013 for something like $10. It’s a license for both my computer and my wife’s and it’s such a great deal. As far as antivirus I just paid full-price for McAfee just last week. I’d rather pay than take a risk with a free option.

    1. Micro

      I don’t feel too bad with a freemium version because you can get a paid version if you want it. Most of the features they offer though I can work around. I can manually scan my computer periodically and not need the website monitoring by avoiding shady sites.

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