Discounted App Store Purchases

While I have inklings to develop this post into something deeper in the future revolving around personal finances, budgeting and the managing of resources, for now we'll settle on how we're able to get an effective 20% discount on everything purchased via iTunes and the App Store, without taking money out of any starving developer's pocketbook.

What this boils down to is the purchasing of iTunes gift cards when they're offered at a discount. In all honesty, I don't have the specifics on the economics of how these deals are established or even make sense, but either way we're able to take advantage of it.

A little aside about Apple gift cards: while they're sold in varying flavors (music, books, apps, etc.), in the end they all get redeemed the same (I have found an exception to this when I was awarded "music credits" by Apple for music purchased then refunded, but this was not in relation to a gift card purchase).

What you will notice upon purchasing App Store gift cards is that there is no tax taken from you at the register. This makes sense because you're taxed upon purchase of items in the App Store itself.

While it used to be a relative hassle tracking down these gift card deals, if you follow the aptly-named @itunescardsdeals account on Twitter, you'll get a weekly summary of current deals, both from physical stores around the country and online. Posting frequency is low, a burst every few days, so I wouldn't be too worried about adding it to your feed.

As far as my personal buying strategy, I hold out for the 20% off deals unless I'm running low on store credits. Rarely, if ever do the discounts go any higher (lower?), but when they do I snatch them up in large amounts, at times dropping hundreds of dollars or the max allowable, as most of these offers limit the number of cards you can purchase. This obviously requires that you have the means to drop some cash, whether via established savings (good budgeting skills) or the income to support this, but in the end it's worth it.

A brief example:

  • Purchasing gift cards at 10% provides us with a 10% discount on all App Store purchases.
  • Purchasing gift cards at 20% provides us with a 20% discount on all App Store purchases.

Or, changing perspective:

  • Purchasing $500 at 10% provides us with $50 of free apps.
  • Purchasing $500 at 20% provides us with $100 of free apps.

However you need to frame it best in your mind is fine, just realize that we can get more then what we pay for by purchasing these gift cards in advance, at a discount

When combined with developer specials/discount periods or "App of the Week" deals, shopping on the App Store becomes less of a penny pinching experience, and much more pleasurable. Knowing that I'm getting 20% off on all my purchases makes the inevitable impulse buys much less draining both to my pocketbook, and my emotional stores, because after all, personal finance is just that, it's personal.

The most important part, and the subversive undertow of the current App Store economy as well as this entire discussion, is that paying for beautiful, well-designed, quality softwareis ethical, proper and straight up the upstanding thing to do. The nickeling-and-and-diming of developers in the "race to the bottom" isn't sustainable if we want to maintain the quality of apps we expect.

And in the end, you probably "literally just paid more than that to buy a bagel."