Some apps just aren’t worth your money. With so much software out there and limited cash, it’s really important to be sure you aren’t throwing money away on subscriptions you’ll never use.
However, we had several insightful comments pointing out apps and software that are worth the cost. Of course, these won’t be the same for everyone — someone’s must-have app might be something you wouldn’t even use for free. This time, let’s take a look at apps that are generally worth your money, and how they could save you money in the long run.
You’re probably sick of hearing it, but you need to back up your computer’s data, period. Not backing up will eventually end in tears, and that’s a place you don’t want to be. While there are plenty of built-in backup methods in Windows 10 that require an external hard drive, the most secure backups are kept offsite.
The general rule of backups is that you should have three copies of all of your data on two different storage mediums, with one in a different location than the others. To fulfill these requirements, you need to use a cloud backup provider. Thankfully, the cost is relatively low.
Everything but my music , notes and messages backed up. I'm glad i didnt lose everything
— ????? (@LilChocolateFem) August 8, 2016
CrashPlan and Backblaze are two solid options for personal backups. Both cost $60/year ($5/month), but consider this cost versus the memories and hours of work represented in your data, and it’s clear that this cost is completely justified. Data can be recovered off a dead drive, but it often costs hundreds of dollars, if not more.
CrashPlan lets you back up to an external hard drive and their cloud at the same time, offering you fine control over what gets backed up and where. Backblaze offers one-click backup that covers everything so you have it all covered.
Our digital lives reside on our computers, and there’s no excuse not to have a backup. If you can only purchase one app from this list, make it a backup solution. You’ll be glad you did!
This one varies depending on the user, but you’ll know who are if you need this category. While free alternatives to Adobe products exist and are adequate for many novice users, if you’re a professional graphic designer, video editor, or similar (or aspiring to be one), spending the extra money on the best software is worth it.
Adobe’s pricing is a bit confusing, but the base plans are $10/month for a bundle with Lightroom and Photoshop, $20/month for one app of your choice, of $50/month for the entire suite of Adobe apps. Buying the industry-standard app might be a bit more expensive in the short term, but it definitely pays off.
You’ll be more efficient thanks to better software and be able process jobs for clients in less time, leading to you making more money. In addition, having knowledge in standard tools could translate well into different job opportunities.
The best advice here is to try a free app for what you need to do and see if it’s enough. If not, you’re probably at the level where paying for the best software is the smarter option. You’ll know if that’s the case!
Streaming Music Services
Most of the big music streaming services (aside from Apple Music) all have quality free plans, so you might be satisfied with listening for free. However, if you like music, a premium subscription to Spotify, Google Play Music, or Apple Music is an amazing value.
Most albums cost $10 if you buy them straight from Amazon, iTunes, or on a CD. For that price every month (less if you use the shared family plans), you can listen to all the music you want with no limits. Paid streaming also allows you to listen offline, which saves you mobile data costs. In addition, you can give any artist a listen without fear of wasting your money if you don’t like their record.
Buying Spotify premium is beyond worth it
— anne's frank (@annealexanderr) July 20, 2016
The only way that these services wouldn’t be a good deal for you is if you already have a massive MP3 collection and only occasionally dip into Spotify to check out an artist. For everyone else, decide which streaming service you like best and jump into the music. If you need some help, check out why we love Spotify Premium.
On a related note, don’t waste your money on SoundCloud Go.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN)
If you’ve never used a VPN, you might be surprised at all the times it’s appropriate to use one. Essentially, a VPN obscures your browsing and makes it looks like it’s coming from somewhere else.
The applications are many: if you want to browse sensitive information without your ISP or the government knowing what you’re looking at, need to access content that isn’t available in your country, or want to stay safe when browsing on public networks, a VPN should be on your system.
While there are free VPNs available, you get what you pay for, and since you’re trusting your VPN to keep your browsing private and secure, it’s worth shelling out some money. How much it’s worth it depends on your needs and how much money you’ll save — if paying for a VPN lets you access video content in another country and saves you money on a cable bill, it’s worth it in the long run.
It’s a lot cheaper to pay $5–10/month for a quality VPN and keep your information safe than to be a victim of identify theft because your information was stolen from an insecure coffee shop.
And make sure you know common VPN myths before you start using one, just to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting.
Amazon Prime has come a long way in the past few years. Aside from the sticker feature of unlimited free two-day shipping, there are tons of lesser-known Prime benefits, like unlimited cloud storage for photos, 20% off all new video games, and exclusive access to all the deals on the annual Prime Day.
There are a few ways to decide on pricing here — the core Amazon Prime service is $99 for a year or $11/month if you pay as you go. This lets choose how to get the most value out of the subscription; if you shop all year round, Prime will pay for itself with the shipping savings and discounts, but you can also use it in the short-term, too.
If you never use Amazon, then Prime won’t save you money. But if you use Prime Music for your premium music service and Prime Video to get your TV and movies (see below), that’s already $20/month saved! It’s easy to see how much value a single subscription gets you here.
Netflix or Similar
While there are some reasons you might want to avoid subscribing to Netflix or other similar video services (like Hulu or Amazon Prime Video), the benefits outweigh the costs if you take advantage of them. The $8/month for the Basic plan (which doesn’t include HD streaming and only allows you to watch on one device at once), or the $12/month for the Premium plan (which includes HD and up to four simultaneous devices) gets you a lot of content.
If you can part with cable (which you’re probably paying at least $40/month for), you can get all of your entertainment from your chosen video service. From classic movies and TV shows to Netflix originals, there’s always something to enjoy even if you watch every night, due to new content being added every month.
how to save money on weekends:
binge watch on Netflix/Hulu.
— denise (@helladeezy) August 6, 2016
Another benefit of video streaming over cable is the flat price. While the price of Netflix has increased a few times over the years, it’s a standard rate for everyone and doesn’t involve all kinds of fees and special offers to navigate like paying for cable.
Plus, if you decide you don’t want the service anymore, you simply go online and cancel it. Compare that to calling in and dealing with terrible customer service for half an hour, and the lack of stress is another clear benefit.
Make sure you consider the costs of cutting the cord before you decide to switch over, though, as it doesn’t make sense for everyone.
Premium Password Managers
You might notice that this entry is also on the list of apps you shouldn’t pay for, and that’s for a reason. While you can definitely get along with using the free version of LastPass or another password manager, if you can pay for a premium manager and need it, the added security is worth the cost.
LastPass, for example, only allows you to use its Free plan on one device — so if you have it installed on your laptop, you’re out of luck on your mobile device. While you can always pull up the password on your desktop and type it in on your phone, this can get tedious and might lead you to use weaker, easier-to-type passwords, decreasing security.
Thus, the $12/year (just a dollar a month!) for LastPass is a steal, allowing you to easily access your passwords on the go. The cost of having a password stolen is not cheap (think of what someone could do with access to your email account), and memorizing all of your passwords is tough. While not critical, a premium password manager leads to better security practices and is thus worth the cost.
Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus
Though gaming is an expensive hobby, it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune if you put some planning into it. One of the best ways to save money on gaming is to subscribe to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold, if you have one of those consoles.
I'm always kinda shaky when it comes to paying to play online via PS+ and XboxLive, but all these huge PS4 games seem worth it.
— SpectrumRed (@SpectrumofG) March 23, 2016
The $50/year for PS Plus or $60/year for Live Gold might seem like a lot, but consider the price of new blockbuster games is usually $60 at launch. Paying that price just once gets you access to new games every month, meaning you can check out fresh content all year for one fee.
Both services also enable you to play online games, which can also go a long way in saving you money. Instead of burning through a single-player campaign and never touching a game again, multiplayer can breathe new life into a game and make the money you spent on it go further.
What Are You Happy to Pay For?
While so many services reek of being a ripoff, it’s refreshing to take a look at the services that are truly a good value. Each of these plans will cost you some cash, but it’s the higher costs of not having them that makes them worthwhile.
Integrate the savings from these subscriptions into your all-important budget, and you could be well on your way to a better financial future.
Now we want to hear from you — what apps and services are worth the cost? Let us know what subscriptions you’re happy to pay for every month down in the comments!