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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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    Last Updated on January 2, 2019

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

    Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

    Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

    This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

    Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

    What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

    Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

    When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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    How It Leads to Financial Improvement

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

    Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

    Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

    It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

    Types of Personal Finance Software

    When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

    Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

    For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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    Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

    When to Use Personal Finance Software

    So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

    Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

    1. You Have Multiple Accounts

    There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

    If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

    Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

    2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

    Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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    There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

    With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

    3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

    Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

    Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

    Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

    4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

    Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

    You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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    How to Get Started

    From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

    Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

    It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

    When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

    Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

    Final Thoughts

    Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

    In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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