Before you bite the bullet and add a few hundred dollars in software to your credit card bill, try one of these three methods to find available free or discounted software.
Can I get this for free somewhere else?
If the program you need is something you or others are using at work or school, you might be able to obtain the program from them. Your school or office might have a license to install that program on students' or employees' personal computers. Check with your IT administrator to see if the software you need is available to check out or to be installed on your machine.
Is there freeware out there that will do the same thing?
Chances are, you can often find a free program that will do the same thing as the more expensive version. For example, Open Office is freeware that replaces the Microsoft Office suite and can save documents in the same formats for sharing and sending.
Can I get a discount?
Check with any of your personal affiliations — your alumni association, human resources department, etc. — to discover if there's a way to purchase the software you need at a discounted rate. It never hurts to ask, right?