Save Money On Computer Software

Looking for inexpensive computer software? Try the following tips and suggestions to find great deals on the programs you want.

Launching into the Information Age requires the use of a computer and suitable software programs. Some people take advantage of free computers at public or school libraries, while others dole out the hundreds or thousands of dollars needed to purchase a computer monitor and printer.

But that is only half the cost, or less. Computers need programs to operate, so you'll also need to budget for software that you need for personal and professional computer tasks, such as keeping track of work-related travel or preparing a tax filing. Programs can cost anywhere between $10 and $300 or more. Like anything else, paying full price doesn't make sense when you can get the same product for less.

Here are a few tips to help you get the programs you need at a price you can afford:

1. Check newspaper and mail ads or circulars. Chain stores like Best Buy or CompUSA frequently offer discounts on brand-name software like Microsoft. Watch for sales dates or discount coupons and mark your calendar so you won't miss these upcoming events. If you can't quite meet the terms for the discount, such as purchasing $100 worth of merchandise first, ask a family member or friend who shops there if anything is needed in the near future to warrant the $100 expense. You may want to chip in for car gas if you ride together to buy your bargains.

2. Ask about rebates. Although most of these are widely promoted, you may have missed one that you're interested in. Call the store that carries software you want and ask if a rebate is currently available or will be offered soon. When one does become available, get the right form and save all proof of purchase items, such as your receipt and the product's packaging, which will likely have the ISBN code that is needed to apply for a rebate. This means you may have to cut the number off the box for mailing with your rebate form. Manufacturers design the box this way to prevent fraudulent rebate claims. Keep a copy of your rebate form and receipts in case they get lost in the mail.

3. Contact the manufacturer. Most prefer to work directly through retailers, but it never hurts to ask about possible discounts, rebates, or other savings options through direct contact with the wholesaler or manufacturer. They may be able to offer you similar software or a new program at reduced cost in exchange for your feedback on how well you like it and whether it performs the work you want it to.

4. Share with a friend. If you know someone, like a friend or family member, who has a software program you want to get, ask to try out theirs first. Due to licensing restrictions, you will have to use the program on the other person's computer; it cannot be duplicated, which is illegal. But getting a demonstration or hands-on practice will let you know if the product will suit your needs before you buy it. Instead of buying a new program for yourself, you may be able to pay a friend to do your work, too, which could save a bundle if you don't have to buy the program. But if you have a large amount of work to do with the program, you'll probably be better served in buying your own copy.

Using software for work or school purposes may mean that you are eligible to apply for certain forms of financial aid or software grants. Ask your supervisor for information. The bottom line is not to pay full price until you've checked out other available options.

© High Speed Ventures 2011