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4 Ways To Save Money On Software

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4 Ways to Save Money on Software

Think you need a Kindle or Quicken? Think again. These handy pieces of software can fill in for much more expensive alternatives.

Rick Broida

Regular visitors know that for just about every pricey software application or operating system, a freeware or open-source alternative can be found. For example, OpenOffice can easily take the place of Microsoft Office. GIMP and Paint.NET can fill in for Photoshop. And Linux handily gives Windows the boot.

But here are some lesser-known stars of the free-software universe. In some cases they can even take the place of expensive hardware.

Burn CDs and DVDs: If all you want to do is whip together a mix CD or archive some video files onto a DVD, pricey disc-authoring programs like Nero and Easy Media Creator are probably overkill. Instead, try InfraRecorder, which uses a simple Explorer-style interface to help you burn, baby, burn.

Like its commercial counterparts, InfraRecorder can author all kinds of discs, from data to audio to video. It can also make copies of unprotected discs and burn ISO image files to create bootable CDs and DVDs. Because it's open-source, InfraRecorder does all that without burning any of your cash. Estimated savings: $100.

Manage your money without spending any: The irony of using Quicken or Microsoft Money to manage your finances is that they both put a dent in your savings. Fortunately, there's an open-source alternative: Gnucash. It manages personal and small-business accounts, creates detailed report graphs, categorizes your cash flow, and pulls stock quotes from the Web.

Gnucash can import QIF files from Quicken, and it even has online-banking features so you can reconcile your credit-card and bank statements without entering the data manually. Best of all, Gnucash doesn't "sunset" after two or three years like Quicken and Money. In other words, you won't suddenly find yourself forced to upgrade if you want continued online services and support.


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