Money Saving Monday – Don't pay for software, use free software instead!
Photo by: javic
One of the many ways I save a considerable amount of money is by using free software. With the advent of Open Source Software there are a number of really great AND free software products available. Software such as Microsoft Office 2007 and Adobe Photoshop are awesome and very sophisticated pieces of software but they are also frequently cost prohibitive for the average user and frankly more than the average user needs.
Open source offers literally thousands of free software products, many of them very feature rich, reliable and in many cases superior to products you would normally pay for. I use a large number of open source products (including WordPress which this blog runs on). I’ve literally saved thousands of dollars using open source software instead of purchasing commercial software products. Given my success with them (and money savings), I thought I would highlight for you the various open source software products I recommend:
Free software products from Google
While not open source, these products from Google are free and VERY functional. These software products represent probably 90% of the software I use.
- Google Docs – A suite of applications that allow you to do word processing, create spreadsheets, and build presentations. They read and write many different formats including those from Microsoft. For the majority of people, these applications will more than meet your needs. My kids use these for their homework.
- Picasa – Picasa is a photo editing and management tool that is very easy to use, very powerful, and frankly just cool. It provides viewing, editing, slide show creation, backup, and interaction with Picasaweb which lets you share your pictures on the internet with others. Picasa is a great piece of software and is what both my wife and I use to manage our pictures. It’s the software I use to crop and edit the pictures in my articles!
- Google Calendar – Online Calendaring software for managing your events, meetings, reminders, etc. You can share your calendar along with viewing many other publically available calendars including sports events, concert listings and more. Lynnae over at Being Frugal even uses Google Calander to save money.
- Google Reader – This is by far my favorite. Google Reader allows you to read all of your favorite websites and blogs in one place, in Google Reader. It uses a technology called RSS. Blogs allow you to subscribe their RSS feed, and whenever they add new content it will be sent to Google Reader. Reader keeps track of what you’ve read and what you haven’t and even allows you to “star” your favoriate articles and share them with others. If want to try it out, you can subscribe to my feed and give google reader a try. Google Reader is what I use to read all of my favorite blogs.
Personal Finance Software
The only one I know of is Mint. Mint is really slick online software for managing your money. If any of you know of any good free packages, please let me know and I’ll add it. Pearbudget was going to be on my list, but they have moved to an online version, that while free for now will start charging $2.50/month once it goes live.
- Open Office – Suite of applications including word processor, spreadsheet, database, and drawing tool
- AbiWord – Word processor compatible with MS Word
- Firefox – In my opinion, the best internet browser available
- PDFCreator – Create PDF files from pretty much anything
Web Development/Design and Blogging Software
- The Gimp – Photoshop like editor for editing photos. Not as easy to use as Photoshop, but just as powerful.
- Notepad++ – Awesome text editor for editing just about anything. It is what I am typing this article in right now.
- KompoZer – WYSIWIG HTML/CSS Editor
- Windows Live Writer – Off line blogging software. I personally haven’t used this yet, but feedback from other bloggers has been very positive.
Security and Utilities
- Clamwin – Free Anti-virus software
- Eraser – Securely erase files from your hard drive.
- True Crypt – File encryption – it even works on flash/thumb drives
- Cobian - Backup software
Resources for finding free, shareware and Open Source Software
Here are my two favorite sites for find free and open source software:
- Download.com – Tons of free and shareware software
- SourceForge.net – The source for open source software.
Use free or open source software that’s not on my list? Add a comment or send me a note and I’ll be more than glad to add it. I would like this to an ever growing resource for readers to use.