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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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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

    The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

    Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

    Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

    Identifying All of Your Debts

    The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

    Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

    1. Own Your Debt

    Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

    Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

    2. Make a Debt Tracker

    It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

    Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

    3. Get Your Debt Number

    Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

    Prioritizing Your Debts

    All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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    1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

    Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

    There are three main types of bad debt:

    • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
    • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
    • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

    Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

    • Student Loan Debt
    • Mortgage Loan
    • Business Loans

    2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

    Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

    Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

    If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

    3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

    Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

    Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

    Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

    1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

    “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

    It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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    Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

    Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

    2. Hide Your Credit Cards

    If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

    Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

    3. Automate Everything

    Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

    4. Plan Ahead

    Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

    For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

    5. Live Cheaply

    The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

    • Live with roommates
    • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
    • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
    • Take public transit or bike to work

    Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

    The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

    If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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    1. Maintain a High Credit Score

    Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

    • Never miss a payment
    • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
    • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
    • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
    • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

    2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

    Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

    Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

    If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

    How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

    Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

    1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

    Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

    Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

    2. Earn More Money

    There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

    Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

    Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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    Talk to Your Boss

    Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

    Start a Side Hustle

    This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

    Build an Online Business

    There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

    3. Celebrate Your Wins

    As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

    While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

    4. Set New Financial Goals

    Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

    Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

    These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

    Conclusion

    Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

    Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

    More Tips on Getting out of Debt

    Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

    Reference

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