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The Lowdown on App Bundles

The Lowdown on App Bundles
    Respect your money -- inspect app bundles before buying

    In a time of economic downturn, people are not only looking for ways to save their hard-earned dollars but how to best spend them as well. Not to mention keep their levels of productivity high enough to withstand the pitfalls of a recession so that it’s easier to climb out of it – or stay afloat during it. Along with daily deal sites like Groupon, “app bundles” are becoming increasingly popular for both users and third party developers alike.

    App bundles generally consist of a number of apps that can be bought as a packaged deal. They are usually theme-based, where the purchaser gets software that can be used to enhance a specific area of their computing life. Freelance bundles, productivity bundles and even web app bundles are commonplace on the Internet these days. But just like daily deal sites, this category is becoming very saturated – very quickly.

    App Bundle Fatigue

    One of the biggest problem with over-saturation of anything is how fatigue can set in, which hurts the category on multiple levels. First, the app developers view a bundled approach as a less than ideal business move and users begin to have so many options to choose from that they either overspend or avoid spending altogether. While the savings on the bundles is often the greatest draw, it’s also the apps that are part of the bundle that appeal to customers, which is also part of the problem. We’re starting to see the same apps appear in different bundles, and if a user has already bought a bundle containing the one or two apps they really wanted, they’re not likely to buy a bundle containing those apps again – even if there are other apps in there that they’d like. The value of the bundle is diminished by this, and if you’re not saving as much money then you’re less likely to pony up the cash for an app bundle.

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    Those who are selling app bundles are starting to combat this fatigue by offering unique ways of promoting their bundles. MacHeist was one of the first to do this, essentially creating a quest to get the apps at an increased savings. This unique approach has served them well as pioneers in the category, but it takes a lot of work to put these “heists” together and the time between bundle offerings is greater as a result.

    StackSocial has taken a different approach. As one of the newer players in the game, they’re developing a community around their bundles, offering reviews of apps they’ve offered on their blog and partnering up with well-known and trusted sites like Cult of Mac in order to gain traction in the space.

    “We had a number of Apple bloggers and publishers telling us they were struggling to find ways to maximize revenues yet keep their site’s user experience high,” explains Josh Payne, co-founder of StackSocial. “We believe we’ve solved that challenge by building a unique, social shopping experience that is purely focused on the needs of Mac enthusiasts which enables sites, such as Cult of Mac, the ability to offer a very select group of products and services that their audience is already interested in and appreciates.”

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    Other bundle offerings, which seemingly apply most often to those using Apple devices, are plentiful and that makes it hard for users to hone in on which bundles to buy.

    How to Shop for App Bundles

    The savings offered on these bundles are compelling – and tempting – but before you open up your wallet and spend your money on any of them, make sure you’re well-informed and prepared. Here are some suggestions on how to avoid buyer’s remorse when buying app bundles:

    Look at what you need, not what you want. Apps like Keyboard Maestro and TextExpander can be huge time-savers, but if you’re not willing and able to put in the time to make them work for you then they shouldn’t be a primary factor in your purchasing decision. Not everyone will need to speed up their workflow to the levels that those apps can allow, but an app like 1Password is something that all users could use because of its overall utility. You already have a text editor on your computer, so do you really need another like WriteRoom? Maybe you do, but make sure you look at your “needs” versus your “wants” and you’ll find that the app bundles don’t become app blunders.

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    Explore smaller bundles. Some app bundles aren’t really bundles at all – htey’re merely apps on sale. Isolate your needs and then look for apps that meet them. If one or two of them happen to be in a bundle on their own, buying that smaller bundle would be wiser than buying a larger bundle that include apps among those that you’ll never even open. Less is more, and having less on your machine so that you can find things easier, learn new apps that you’ll actually use without having clutter in your way and being more productive as a result is always better than saving more money.

    Find out what your mentors are using and stick with those apps. If you’re aspiring to achieve levels of productivity and workflow that those you admire and mentor you, find out what apps they use and where they looked to find them. For example. I’m a big fan of Patrick Rhone’s work and “what he believes in”, so I’m always on the lookout for apps that he has in his arsenal. If I find one of them in a bundle or at a savings, I grab it (after reviewing my first suggestion above, of course). It’s almost as if I’ve let him put the app through its paces before I give it a shot, because he’s usually written about his use cases on his website or his podcast. Take a good look at what those people are using and it’ll help you save time and money when hunting down app bundles for your own usage.

    A Final Word on App Bundles

    Shopping for apps is essentially the same as shopping for anything else: you go where the best options for your particular set of circumstances is. When you buy groceries, you have a set of criteria in place such as price, quality, location of the store and customer service, among others. When you buy clothing, a similar set of standards that you have set applies as well. You should adopt a set of standards when you go shopping for apps, even if it is new to you. Do it from the onset and you’ll be setting yourself for a pleasant shopping experience time and time again.

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    Pick the right apps, the right vendor and the right timing and you’ll find that every minute you spend shopping is both a penny saved and a penny earned.

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    Published on October 8, 2018

    13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

    13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

    Are you having trouble sticking to a family budget? You aren’t alone.

    Budgeting is difficult. Creating one is hard enough, but actually sticking to it is a whole other issue. Things come up. Desires and cravings happen. And the next thing you know, budgets break.

    So how can you stick to a family budget? Here are 13 tips to make it easier.

    1. Choose a major category each month to attack

    As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With that in mind, one approach to help you get into the habit of sticking to a budget is simply starting slow.

    Spend too much on Starbucks runs, eat out too often, and have an out-of-this-world grocery bill? Choose one bad habit and attack.

    By choosing one behavior to focus on, you’ll prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. You’ll also experience small victories, which help you gain positive momentum. This momentum can then carry over into your overall budget.

    2. Only make major purchases in the morning

    If you’re making large purchases in the evening, there’s a good chance you’re doing so after a long day and you’re probably tired.

    Why does this matter? Because our judgement tends to be off when tired – our willpower is compromised.

    Instead, only make major purchasing decisions in the morning when you’re energized and refreshed. Your brain will be firing on all cylinders and your resolve will be high. You’re less likely to give in and settle at this point.

    3. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

    Have trouble with impulse buys at the grocery store? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going grocery shopping while hungry.

    The problem here is that when you’re hungry, everything looks good. So you’re more likely to make split decisions on things that aren’t on your grocery list.

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    Instead, make sure you eat prior to your grocery store trip. Then take your list, along with your full stomach, and go shopping. Notice how food doesn’t look quite so good when you’re not fighting cravings.

    4. Read one-star reviews for products

    Is there a product you just have to have (but maybe not really)? Check out the one-star reviews.

    By reading all the horrible reviews, you may be able to basically trick yourself into deciding that the product isn’t worth your time and money.

    Next thing you know, you didn’t make the purchase, you saved the money, and you feel good about the decision.

    5. Never buy anything you put in an online shopping cart until the next day

    If you are making a purchase online, it’s typically a two-step process. First, you click “Add to Cart” and then you go in to review your cart and pay.

    The problem is that there not typically much reviewing during step two. It’s generally click pay and there you go. However, this is the perfect point to stop for reflection.

    Once you add to your cart, your best bet is to step away until the next day. Let the item sit there and grow cold, so to speak.

    This gives you a night to “sleep on it” and decide if you really want and need to spend that money. If you wake up the next day and still find the purchase viable, then perhaps it’s time to go for it.

    6. Don’t save your credit card info on any site you shop on

    One of the other pitfalls of shopping online is that fact that most sites ask you to save your credit card information.

    While the sites will frame it as a method of convenience, the truth is they know you’ll spend more money in the long run if your credit card information is saved.

    The “convenience” takes away one last decision-making point in the purchasing process. True, it’s a pain to get out your credit card and enter the information every time. But guess what? That’s the point. If that inconvenience helps you stay on budget, then it’s worth it. Which leads into the next tip.

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    7. Tape an “impulse buy” reminder to your credit card

    Credit cards make spending much easier than cash. When you spend cash, you can literally see your wallet emptying. A credit card comes out, then goes back in. No harm, no foul.

    That’s why it’s a good idea to tape a reminder to your credit card. Customize a message that is something along the lines of “do you really need this?” or “does it fit the budget?”

    That way when you pull out the card, you get one last reminder to help you question your decision and stick to your budget.

    8. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon

    Amazon is probably the easiest place online to blow money. It’s just so easy to click and buy. However, one way you can slow the process down is buy only using gift cards. Here’s how it works.

    If you plan on making a purchase on Amazon, go to the grocery store and purchase a pre-loaded Amazon gift card of the proper amount. There’s no convenience fee, so you literally pay for the money you’ll spend.

    Now take that gift card home and load it to your Amazon account. There’s your money to spend.

    Why does this help? It makes you have to purposely go to the score and purchase the card in order to purchase the item. That’s a pretty deliberate thing that takes some time, commitment, and thought.

    This process will effectively kill the impulse buy.

    9. Budget using cash and envelopes

    As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card. You can take this even farther by using only cash, and separating that cash by budget category.

    Create an envelope for each category and stick the cash in there at the beginning of each month. When the envelope is empty, no more spending on that category, unless you borrow from another (be careful of that approach).

    This can be pretty helpful for people that have a hard time following transactions in their checking account, or keeping a budgeting spreadsheet.

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    The envelopes simplify the tracking process, leaving no room for error. Nothing hides from you because it’s tangible in the envelopes in front of you.

    10. Join a like-minded group

    Making the decision to stick to something like budgeting is difficult. It takes long-term commitment.

    You’re going to feel weak sometimes. And sometimes you may fail. That said, support from others can help strengthen resolve.

    Support can come from a spouse or a friend, but they won’t always have the exact same goal in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a support group that’s likeminded.

    No need to pay here, as there are tons of free communities that fit the bill online.

    For example, reddit has multiple subreddits that deal with budgeting and frugal living. You can follow, subscribe, and get active in those communities.

    This will open your eyes to new tips and strategies, keep your goal fresh on your mind, and help you realize there are others dealing with the same struggles and being successful.

    11. Reward Yourself

    When you set a budget, it’s usually with a large goal in mind. Maybe you want to be debt free, or perhaps you want to see $10,000 in your savings account.

    Whatever the case, the end goal is great, but the end is often far away, making it hard to see the end of the tunnel.

    With that in mind, it’s a good idea to set mini-goals along the way. This helps you still look at the big picture but have something that’s attainable in the short-term to help with momentum.

    But don’t stop there – set rewards for yourself when you reach that small goal. Maybe it’s an extra meal out. Or a new pair of shoes.

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    Whatever the case, this gives you something in the near future to look forward to, which can help with the fatigue that can result in pursuing long-term goals.

    12. Take the Buddhist approach

    You don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize some of the wisdom in the teachings. One of the tenets of the philosophy involves accepting that we can’t have everything we want. And that’s okay.

    Sometimes you won’t feel good. Sometimes you’ll have cravings. You can’t deny them. But you can recognize them, accept them, and let them pass by. Then you move on.

    Apply this to the times you want to do things that will break your budget. You’re going to have the desire to eat out when you shouldn’t. You might want to stay out and spend too much at happy hour with your work friends.

    The feelings will come. Recognize them, accept them, but let them go.

    13. Set up automatic drafts to savings

    If you wait until you’ve spent all your budgeted money to deposit money into savings, guess what? You probably aren’t going to put any money into savings.

    It’s too easy to see that as extra money and end up using it to treat yourself.

    Instead, set up automatic savings withdrawals. That way, the money is marked and gone before you can even think about it. It becomes a non-issue. It’s no longer “extra.” It’s just savings.

    Conclusion

    Sticking to a budget can be difficult. No one is denying that.

    However, if you can do a few things to set yourself up for success, and put some practices in place to curb impulse buys, then you can (and will!) be successful sticking to your family budget.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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