Justifying the High Cost for Software

As you may have guessed from some of my other posts, I run my own business. I’m a writer/photographer based in the Phoenix area, and a few years ago, I made the conscious decision to switch over to a fully Mac system. It was difficult at first, but one of the things that helped me out was the low cost of many popular Mac programs. I was able to pickup iWork for less than Office 2007 for XP, the iLife suite helped me with a bunch of little projects, and then there were independent programs like Billings and Things which both weren’t too expensive but helped me get things done. It became a rarity for me to find a program that was over $50, and if it was, I just didn’t buy it.

But recently, I’ve found myself needing some higher end programs to help organize my business, but also for my finances. The first thing I did when I started my company was hire an accountant. I’m not a math wiz, and I need things to work out cleanly and simply. My accountant doesn’t share my love for all things Apple, so he suggested I buy Quickbooks. At $199, I felt that it was a bit too rich for my blood. Then I discovered that they have an online version available at varying price levels. It only works in Safari, but it does work well and now I can let my accountant check out my books anytime he needs to and straighten things out. It’s a nice system, that’s for sure.

Now I could argue about having all my information in “the cloud” and all that, but my first thought here was the subscription model. At $9.95 a month, it would take me 20 months to reach the one-time investment in a physical copy of the program on my desktop. Problem is, I’m on the medium level plan. At some point, I could need to upgrade to a higher plan and pay more per month. So which makes more sense to do – one time fee and then physically meet with my accountant monthly or is it better to pay every month but have things be more convenient?

The same debate is happening now for me with Daylite. It’s a productivity program for the Mac that has all sorts of cool features like a task manager, project management, and integration with Apple Mail, but at $189, it’s a pretty steep cost. Add to that a yearly subscription fee for Daylite on the iPhone, and I start to question the cost/benefit ratio a bit. How much time will this program save me overall versus how much it will cost out of pocket/yearly. Is it going to be that big of a boon?

If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to let me know. I’d love a second/third/fourth opinion.

Comments

  1. Quickbooks sometimes runs specials. I got Quickbooks Payroll free for 6-months then locked it in for $9.95/month (it usually runs $29.99, I believe). So maybe keep an eye out for a deal on QB.

    As far as Daylite goes, I have used it for about 2 years now to run my business and I could not be happier. I am from the school of you get what you pay for. Daylite has it all and while it’s a bit on the pricey side, you own a business and it’s a business expense. This program is very powerful and w/ the iPhone addition, it puts it in a class by itself. The justification is that you are a business owner in need of software to run your business. You have graduated from iCal & Address Book. I hope it all works out for you, good luck.

  2. Using something like Quickbooks on the net is a perfectly rational decision, but you MUST be able to back up your information onto one of your local drives, and discipline yourself to back up regularly. Otherwise, you’re at the mercy of servers and backup processes you’ve never seen, and have no control over.

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