Last week, I was having a twitter discussion with one of my favorite PF Bloggers, Matt Jabs of Debt Free Adventure. Matt’s a great blogger, and offered to put my car situation on his website, and I got valuable feedback from him and his readers. Anyway, Matt & I share slightly similar professions (Although he has recently gotten a new job, Congrats Matt) in that we are both IT Geeks by day. (I should probably stop talking about Matt & get to my post.
Anyway, Matt got me thinking when we were talking about a computer purchase. At work (and I work for a very by-the-book employer) we have even begun using open-source software because it is so cost effective, and I thought it would be a great way for non IT geeks to use to lower costs when purchasing a new machine. There are many different programs that you have been working on computers with for years, and probably just purchase because the program is good (or OK) and don’t know what else can do a similar function for a better cost. Microsoft Office comes to mind here.
So, here are some ways you can save money on software when purchasing a computer
Microsoft Office – To Order a new Dell PC with Microsoft Office, it costs $119.00, and is not the “professional” edition, which includes an email client, Microsoft Outlook. For that, You’ll need to cough up $279.00.
For Microsoft Office on an Apple Machine, it costs $149.95 for the regular edition, and $399.95 for the “professional” edition
Open Source Alternative:
Open Office – Open office is a great program, and as long as I’ve used it or talked about it with friends, I’ve never heard a bad thing spoken about it. It has spreadsheets, wordprocessing, graphics and databases. This is more functionality than you get with the standard version of Microsoft office, and it’s free. It also has a simple save as “*.docx” or whatever microsoft format you need. It also has a save as “*.pdf” option. You can download open office for free at their website, www.openoffice.org
For Cost Option – Microsoft Outlook included with Microsoft Office Professional Edition.
Open Source Alternative:
Thunderbird is the email client designed by the people who created the Mozilla Firefox Browser. It’s got many of the same features as outlook, such as email search, easy set up, and integration with their calendar program, called Lightning Calendar. If you think these sources are unsafe, think again. Use of Firefox (the browser) has been gaining steadily over the years, and is probably safer at this point than Internet Explorer, the Microsoft Web browser.
Many of the photo editing software comes standard (a perfect reason for you to use it and not think about it). Some of it is OK for the amateur photographer, but there are programs that do a much better job and are also free.
Picasa: Picasa was purchased by internet giant Google quite some time ago, and then was (as is google’s motus operandi) made free, and features were added like crazy. It has a much more intuitive way of finding your photos, and also adds support for red-eye removal and tagging pictures with places and people in them. You can also upload some of your photos on the internet to share so that grandma can see pictures of your new baby (or puppy), for free!
USB Jump Drive
You probably bought one of these to store files, thinking man, this is handy. Well, if you’ve lost yours and don’t want to replace it, try….
Dropbox – Creates a folder on each of your computers and syncs the items in the folder across the dropbox folders. Along with moving your files to computers, you can use files on the dropbox website. If you’re interested in more, check the homepage for a short video on how to get the most out of dropbox.
For most users, these options would save you lots of money in software when purchasing a new computer. There’s more products that will allow you to cut the cost of Microsoft Windows out, but I didnt mention them for 2 reasons:
- It’s usually included in the cost of the computer
- Other Operating System software (Linux, Unix) is typically for IT geeks like myself.
So, I encourage you to take some of Bakers advice and Unautomate your software choices. The old methods work ok, but there are newer, better and free-er (is that a word) software options. Explore them, you’ll save money and be glad you did.