By Bob Rankin
A bit of forethought and a lot of research can save you hundreds of dollars on software purchases – or thousands, if you buy for a school, business, or other large organization. Even if you only buy one copy of a popular software program, you can get it for a fraction of the MSRP. Here are some tips for getting cheap software:
Buy online, saving the cost of a brick-and-mortar store’s overhead and sales tax (if you live in a state where the online vendor has no physical presence). Shipping costs are minimal on most software packages, and free shipping offers are easy to find. Sometimes you can download a software package for free that would cost money to ship on CD or DVD.
Don’t go to only the best-known online software vendors. Often it’s the lesser-known, small vendors who offer bigger discounts to compete on price instead of name recognition. Use comparison-shopping sites such as PriceGrabber.com, Shopzilla.com, and Google Shopping to see who has the best price. Amazon.com often has several vendors offering different prices on any given software package.
A slightly older version of the software you want often sells for much less than the current version. If the older version works for you, fine. Upgrades are sometimes free or cost less than the difference in price between older and current versions. Look for used software packages on Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, and other consumer-to-consumer sales sites. Just make sure you are getting a fully licensed retail package, not a pirated copy.