Save Your Money: 9 Apps You Shouldn’t Pay For

Ben Stegner 21-07-2016

It seems that every app nowadays is trying to weasel its way into a subscription on your credit card. It’s tough to keep track of where all your money is going, even if you use our tips to manage online subscriptions How to Easily Manage Your Online Subscriptions & Save Money We don't keep track of online subscriptions as we should. These tools will show what you're subscribed to, how much you're spending, and prompt you to cancel subscriptions you no longer need. Read More .


While there are plenty of premium subscription-based services worth paying for, like Amazon Prime (which has so many benefits that people ignore some 10 Awesome Amazon Prime Benefits You've Probably Overlooked Free two-day shipping is just the beginning. Here are some notable Amazon Prime subscription benefits you may not know about. Read More !) and cloud backup providers, there are plenty more that you really don’t need. Here are some popular paid services that you can drop from your subscription list and replace with free options.


Let’s start with a recent one. Evernote just announced that they are increasing the price of their Plus and Premium plans, as well as limiting the free Basic plan to only two devices. While Evernote is still a great app, a limit of two devices is really crippling if you need your notes on a computer, phone, and tablet. Even if you were paying for Evernote before, a jump to $35/year for Plus or $70/year for Premium is a lot to pay for taking notes.

The good news is that Microsoft OneNote is an awesome alternative to Evernote The Best Evernote Alternative Is OneNote and It's Free The market is drenched in note-taking apps competing with Evernote. But there is only one serious Evernote alternative. Let us explain why that is OneNote. Read More , and it’s totally free. You can use OneNote on your Windows or Mac desktop, along with the web app for other devices. If you’re interested, Microsoft has provided an Evernote-to-OneNote migration tool that makes it easy to switch. We’ve also written a complete guide on how to migrate to OneNote Migrating From Evernote to OneNote? Everything You Need to Know! OneNote is one of the best alternatives to Evernote and it's free. We'll show you how OneNote is different and show you the tools to migrate smoothly. Read More if you need more help.

If you’re an Apple person and prefer a more Apple-centric alternative, switching from Evernote to Apple Notes Thinking of Switching From Evernote to Apple Notes? Here's How Apple has a free notes app, and it received a rather substantial overhaul with iOS 9 and El Capitan. But should you ditch Evernote for it? That depends. Read More is quick and easy, as well. Both OneNote and Apple Notes allow you to work offline and don’t limit your upload rate like Evernote’s free plan, so there’s no reason to stay on that restrictive setup.

Dropbox / Google Drive / OneDrive Pro

While all the major cloud storage providers provide some free space, you’ll need to pay to get a larger amount. Prices for this vary — Dropbox’s Pro plan is $99/year for a terabyte of space, while Google Drive is $2/month for 100 GB and OneDrive is $2/month for 50 GB.


Cloud storage is great, but in all likelihood, you probably don’t need to pay for more of it. Google Drive gives you 15 GB for free, Dropbox provides 2 GB, and OneDrive dishes out 5 GB (15 GB if you opted out of their ridiculous space cut How to Move OneDrive to Google Drive After Storage Cut The Internet is angry at Microsoft. After promising unlimited storage with the Office 365 subscription, and 15 GB of storage for free users, the company has reneged on its promise. All because some users abused... Read More ). If you combine these services and follow our guide to getting the most free space How To Get The Most Free Space On Dropbox, Box, SkyDrive & More - The Complete Guide Cloud storage services offer a minimum amount of free space to everyone who signs up, but you can often get more. You can upgrade your cloud drive with gigabytes and gigabytes of free space in... Read More , you’ll have a good chunk of storage to use without paying.

To help you keep track of everything, try keeping one type of file in each services. You could keep pictures in Dropbox, documents in OneDrive, and music in Google Drive, for example. It leads to more apps being installed on your devices, but that’s a small inconvenience for saving money. You can also use cloud storage managers to keep tabs Are Your Files Getting Lost in the Cloud? These 4 Cloud Storage Managers Will Help How can you keep track of your files when they're all in different places? With the availability of free cloud storage increasing all the time you'll probably need to answer this question soon. Read More on everything when using multiple services.

If the big three services aren’t enough for you, don’t forget about alternative providers. Box [Broken URL Removed] will give you 10 GB for free, MEGA provides a whopping 50 GB, and iDrive gets you another 5 GB. That doesn’t even take into account self-hosted cloud storage The 3 Best Self-Hosted Dropbox Alternatives, Tested and Compared Looking for a Dropbox alternative that doesn't impose any restrictions? Here are the best self-hosted Dropbox alternatives. Read More that you can set up on your own!


Office 365

Office 365 is a smarter alternative to buying Office 2016 outright Don't Buy Office 2019! Here's Why You May Not Need It Should you buy Office 2019? We don't think so. Here's why Office 2019 isn't worth it, and what to try instead. Read More , but it’s still a subscription you can cut out. While Office 365 does provide benefits aside from Office, such as 1 TB of OneDrive space (which alleviates the cloud storage cost above), you’ll be just fine without it.

Office Online is completely free Don't Pay for Microsoft Word! 4 Reasons to Use Office Online Instead Microsoft Office Online offers free web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Here's why you should give it a try today. Read More and brings many of Word’s most-used features to your browser. Anyone can use Office Online for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more without cost. Unless you’re in a business environment where you need the advanced features of Word 10 Default Microsoft Word Settings You Can Optimize A few simple optimization steps can amplify your productivity with Microsoft Word. We give you ten quick and easy settings for your everyday tasks. Read More or other apps, you won’t have any issue with the Web versions.

If you prefer to use a desktop app for Office, LibreOffice is a completely free alternative that goes toe-to-toe with MS Office Is LibreOffice Worthy of the Office Crown? LibreOffice is the king of free office suites. It's unlikely to replace Microsoft Office in a business environment, but it's an excellent alternative for casual users. Here's what's new in LibreOffice 5.1. Read More . Don’t be stuck thinking that you have to pay for Office!

YouTube Red

YouTube Red gives you premium access to YouTube — stripping out the ads, allowing you to download videos for offline viewing, and providing access to all-new YouTube original shows (which we’ve found to be pretty mediocre We Watched Scare PewDiePie So You Don't Have To Are these YouTube Red Originals worth the price tag? We watched the first batch so, well, you don't have to. Here's what we thought... Read More ). However, the $10/month cost is hard to justify unless you’re the most dedicated of YouTube viewers.


After YouTube Red’s launch, Joel took a look at whether Red is really worth the money Is YouTube Premium Worth the Cost? 7 Things You Need to Consider Is YouTube Premium's cost worth it? We look into the pros and cons of YouTube's paid version. Read More , coming to the conclusion that unless you use the mobile apps all the time, hate the ads, and want to watch the original content, it’s not worth paying for. Paying $10/month to remove ads is a waste for the casual YouTube viewer, and if you’re ignoring the premium content, why pay for it?

The only exception here is that YouTube Red and Google Play Music come bundled, so if you’re an Android user and pick Google Play Music as your streaming service The Best Music Player on Android: Google Play Music Reviewed Google Play Music is a music streaming service, a local music player, and a podcast player all mashed into one. And it's great. Read More , YouTube Red is just a bonus.

Any Pro Antivirus

Though it’s common advice, it’s worth reiterating that you still need to be running an antivirus 4 Security Misconceptions That You Need To Realize Today There is a lot of malware and online security misinformation online, and following these myths can be dangerous. If you've taken any as truth, it's time to get the facts straight! Read More on Windows. There are plenty of free internet security suites The 5 Best Free Internet Security Software for Windows Need antivirus, anti-malware, and real-time security? Here are the best free internet security software for Windows. Read More that provide all the protection you need, and though they may try to sell you their paid version, you don’t have to upgrade.



Pro antivirus suites, such as Avast and AVG, advertise features like “system cleanup,” “safe shopping,” and email spam protection that are easily found in other free tools. The crucial part of having an antivirus is the real-time protection, which all reputable free solutions provide. You’ll probably have to put up with a few nagging screens on a free antivirus, but that’s no big deal.

If you’re interested in using the extra features mentioned above for free, check out Windows tools to free up storage space Low Disk Space? 5 Native Windows Tools To Free Up Storage Space Don't download a fishy third party tool to reclaim valuable disk space! Windows has its own tools for the job and they're easy to use. Read More , follow our tips for safe online shopping 10 Tips For Safe & Secure Shopping Online This Holiday Season The Holidays are almost upon us once again. And that can only mean one thing - yep, its time to buy gifts at the last minute again! But how do you avoid criminals while buying... Read More , and know how to stop email spam Still Getting Spam? 4 Email Mistakes to Avoid Today Avoiding spam is impossible. But there are some lesser known tips, tricks, and secrets that can help you fight the battle against suspicious email. Read More .

Premium Password Managers

Everyone really should be using a password manager You Need to Start Using a Password Manager Right Now By now, everyone should be using a password manager. In fact, not using a password manager puts you at greater risk of being hacked! Read More  — they take the task of memorizing safe passwords out of your hands and give it to a secure service How Password Managers Keep Your Passwords Safe Passwords that are hard to crack are also hard to remember. Want to be safe? You need a password manager. Here's how they work and how they keep you safe. Read More . However, you can avoid the costs associated with a premium manager.

1Password has no free tier, costing $5/month for a family subscription. Dashlane Premium costs $40/year, and LastPass Premium is $12/year. The good news is that the free tiers of Dashlane and LastPass should be enough for most people. The free editions limit you to one device (so you can use it on Windows, but not on your iPhone), so if you don’t have a smartphone 5 Reasons Not To Buy A Smartphone You may feel pressured into buying a smartphone, even though you're perfectly happy with your (so-called) dumbphone. Don't be. Read More and just want to manage passwords on your desktop, go with Dashlane or LastPass free.

If you need multi-device syncing, LastPass Premium is your best bet. While $12/year is more expensive than free, a dollar a month to keep your online life secure 5 Online Security Threats That You Need to Tell Your Friends About You'd be surprised to discover where all malware is lingering today. It's no longer just average computers, but more likely anything with some sort of connected device, including toys. Read More is one charge worth paying for. Just make sure that you actually need it!

Rosetta Stone

Everyone can learn a different language How I Finally Learned a Different Language. And You Can Too. No single language learning app is the magic wand. The secret to learning a new language is a blended solution. With desire and motivation you too can learn any foreign language. Read More , and you don’t have to pay a king’s ransom to get there. If you’re looking to reap the hidden benefits of learning a new language 4 Hidden Benefits Of Learning A Foreign Language If You Are A Geek English is overwhelmingly the language of the Internet. And yet, there's never been a better reason and a better time to learn a foreign language. It opens up the world, and opportunities. Read More , don’t pay $180 for a year of Rosetta Stone. You can get an excellent start on learning a new language with free tools The 8 Best Language Learning Apps That Really Work Want to learn a language free? These are the best free language learning apps that will have you speaking a new language before you know it. Read More .

Duolingo is an amazing tool for building vocabulary Duolingo Gives A Fillip To Free Language Learning With Crowdsourced Lessons Duolingo has launched a new initiative that aims to crowdsource new lessons and new languages with the help of the website’s growing community of ten million and counting. Read More and is completely free; paired with Memrise, you can get a solid foundation in a new language on the desktop or on the go with mobile apps. You can even get clever and work on learning a new language just by browsing the web. Learn a New Language Just by Browsing the Web in Chrome This extension makes it easy to pick up new language vocabulary without any effort on your part. Read More

Pandora One

Pretty much every music service these days carries a free and premium plan; Pandora is no exception. While other services allow you to browse a massive catalog and play whatever you’d like, Pandora is built solely around radio 5 Cool Things You Can Do With Pandora Music Radio Read More .

Even if you’re a huge Pandora fan, Pandora One, at $5/month or $55/year, is just not worth the cost. While it does strip out the ads, the only other real benefits of One are fewer timeouts during playback (which probably rarely bother you anyway) and more skips, which you might not even use in a “set it and leave it” situation.

If you’re going to spend money on a music subscription, it makes more sense to choose between Spotify, Google Play Music, and Apple Music Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Google Play Music: Which Is Best? Here's our comparison of music streaming services Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Google Play Music on price, quality, and catalog. Read More  — not only do they all include radio and other cool features, but you’ll also be able to play any song you want at any time.


This one isn’t a subscription, but it’s still worth mentioning. SnagIt is a great tool for capturing screenshots, but a $50 price point for the software is insane. Unless you spend all day taking and editing screenshots using specific SnagIt features, you’ll do just fine with a free screenshot tool.

Thankfully, there are all sorts of screenshot utilities ranging from basic to full-featured. The Snipping Tool built into Windows How to Take Screenshots in a Snip with these Windows Tools Windows offers many ways to capture your screen. Microsoft Snip takes the Snipping Tool to the next level, but many others compete for the top spot. We have summarized your options. Read More is great for simple grabs, Greenshot is a solid choice, and PicPick is a full-featured tool, complete with an editor.

No matter which one you use, follow our tips for taking the perfect screenshot How to Take the Perfect Screenshot in Windows The best way to take a screenshot depends on the version of Windows you're on. We show you the subtle differences, give troubleshooting tips, and reveal the best keyboard shortcuts and tools. Read More to make yours look better!

What Other Apps Are Superfluous?

Clearly, there are a lot of apps that just aren’t worth the cost. Of course, different people have different needs, so there might be an app here that you feel is worth your payment — that’s fine! Just know that there are free alternatives to nearly every piece of software, and using them can save you a whole lot of money over time.

Which apps do you think are worth paying for, and which just seem like an extra unneeded expense? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Image Credits:kiosk on wall street by Anton Havelaar via Shutterstock

Related topics: Note-Taking Apps, Save Money, Streaming Music, Subscriptions.

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  1. Phil N
    March 5, 2017 at 3:51 am

    You failed to mention that YouTube Red includes unlimited access to Play Music.

    • Ben Stegner
      October 17, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      "The only exception here is that YouTube Red and Google Play Music come bundled, so if you’re an Android user and pick Google Play Music as your streaming service, YouTube Red is just a bonus."

  2. Paratech59
    August 8, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    I used Microsoft One Note for over a year and had a lot of notes for my job in that app. One day the file become corrupted. I was missing some notes and other notes were not where they were supposed to be in. I did an online search and found that others had the same problem. With Evernote, I haven't had that problem. It's reassuring that my notes are saved and accessible for when I need them.

  3. Anonymous
    August 8, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    I use Norton Identity Safe for all my passwords. It has all the features I need. Syncs across Windows, IOS, Android and if you use the browser add-on Linux also. Best part, it's totally free.

    • Phil N
      March 5, 2017 at 3:52 am

      lol norton.

  4. Anonymous
    August 8, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    If you pay for Amazon Prime you should make use of the Amazon Music service you get for free with that membership. It's not a bad deal.

    • Ben Stegner
      August 8, 2016 at 11:45 pm

      Oh, absolutely. I'm not suggesting you never pay for software; it's just that most people don't need the ones above. Amazon Prime is a great deal, assuming you use it often, and the Music is a bonus.

  5. Chandan
    August 8, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Enpass is the free(for Desktop) Password Manager I am using.
    Never felt a need to switch to any other Password manager.

  6. Sugi
    August 7, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    While the point you're trying to make (it really isn't necessary to pay for these software), there are still some things that I'd rather pay for. Office 365, which I spend a lot of time with and is essential to the workplace, is one of them. I also pay for antivirus security suites (Norton Internet Security); although free alternatives exist, when security comes into factor you really shouldn't be using some free alternative.

    • Ben Stegner
      August 8, 2016 at 11:45 pm

      Oh yes, I agree. There are definitely some pieces of software worth paying for, and if you need Office, that's certainly one of them.

      I disagree on the antivirus. Free antivirus programs contain all the essential protection you need. Premium antiviruses only include superfluous features that are nice to have, but not essential. Norton is one of the worst offenders, in my opinion. But if it's worth it to you, then I'm glad.

  7. Anonymous
    August 7, 2016 at 1:44 am

    There are many free and good softwares today. How can developers sell their paid apps ?

    • Ben Stegner
      August 7, 2016 at 7:12 pm

      What do you mean?

      Software worth paying for is worth paying for, but there are some types of software people think you have to pay for but you really don't to get along OK. That's what the focus was here.

  8. Lina
    August 1, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Our company prefers paid apps and software. the variety of functions are wider and you do not need to think how to store all the information you need and be in frames of the size limit. Hate that!

  9. Larry Bradley
    July 27, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    It is totally ludicrous to state or even suggest than ANY Microsoft product, ultimately, is free.

    • Sugi
      August 7, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      If you define free as "it doesn't cost money", then yes, it is completely sane to suggest that a product that costs $0.00 is free.
      If your suggesting that Microsoft is making the product free for the benefit of it's other services, or somehow helping the company otherwise, then with a few notable exceptions (open writer is awesome) you would be right; however, this is true for basically every company who makes profit, so I don't really get your point.

    • Sugi
      August 7, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      Same for most companies. Although, if you define free as "It doesn't cost any money," (as you know, most people do) I don't see anything wrong with calling a product that doesn't cost anything free.

  10. AiEsper
    July 22, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Tips for you.

    • Anonymous
      July 27, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      So true.
      You can use 7-Zip to extract RAR archives and it's free.

      • Sugi
        August 7, 2016 at 8:23 pm

        Strongly recommend 7-Zip, but if you must user WinRAR it doesn't really penalize you for not paying for it, so there really is no point in paying for it.
        Plus, the software security around their payment system is laughably easy to crack, so five minutes and some online tutorials with ollydbg is enough to save you quite a bit of money.

  11. Chris
    July 22, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Lightshot is the best screen shot tool I've ever seen. And it's free!

  12. Pat
    July 22, 2016 at 4:57 am

    Great article! I normally stick to free alternatives, and so we do at our office, where every single penny must be saved.

    However, I have a lot of friends that just pay for whatever trend there is at the moment, or for an app they feel comfortable with.

    Anyway, I'll let them know about this.

  13. Anonymous
    July 22, 2016 at 2:45 am

    I use Comodo Internet Security free version. It includes Antivirus, Firewall, HIPS, and sandbox options. I haven't had any issues with viruses.

    I also use the DNS server provided by Norton Connect Safe, to weed out malware and optionally porn sites from browsers. It doesn't allow browsers to go to sites that are flagged as malware or optionally porn, there is another option for other potentially unwanted sites such as violence, drugs etc. Its not perfect, but it helps keep users safe. Its especially good for parents to keep their kids away from dangerous influences of porn and other nasties.

    [Broken URL Removed]

  14. Anonymous
    July 22, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Lightshot for screenshots (y)

  15. C?t?lin Petrescu
    July 22, 2016 at 12:26 am

    If you want to control your Android device through your PC but you don't want to pay for the full-featured Airdroid or Pushbullet, MyPhoneExplorer can do just fine. You don't even need an account at all since it connects while you're on the same WiFi network, connected through Bluetooth or USB. Too bad it is only a Windows solution.

  16. Danielw2904
    July 21, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    For password manager I suggest keepassx or another version of keepass. There are apps for android and iPhone that can open databases that are stored in Dropbox. Free with sync and available on all platforms + open source.

    • Phil N
      March 5, 2017 at 4:01 am

      I used to use KeePass and it's OK but the software is kind of janky. I switched to Password Box when they gave me a free membership, then that was bought by Intel and renamed "True Key". I really like the software, especially that it uses facial recognition on my computer and fingerprints on my phone.