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Hi. All my current writing is over at Audacious Fox, and I'd love to show you around. Thanks for reading.

Confessions of an appaholic

(Alternative title: Why I deleted my credit card from iTunes)

I’ll admit it. I’m somewhat of an appaholic. But I’m changing that, and conquering my impulse buying at the same time.

iPhone apps appeal to me. They hover nicely in that psychologically-pleasing price range of .99 cents to make each purchase not sting as much as it probably should. New todo list manager? Sure, I’ll check it out! What’s that, it’s like Angry Birds, except with mice and cheese? Excellent!

No. It has to stop.

For one, I’m on a budget. Now, my definition of “budget” may be more loosely defined than others, but I like having money available for things that tie into life experiences. I have yet to find the real-world need to throw birds at buildings. Actually, it sounds quite cruel.

Secondly, it reinforces a bad habit I’ve had since I was a little kid - impulse buying. When I was younger, any money I got was quickly exchanged for whatever Walmart happened to be selling that day. I didn’t buy recklessly, but going into a store without a specific item of purchase in mind was the Angry Bird to my piggy bank.

Eventually I matured through high school and realized the value of money for things beyond that 15 to 20 dollar threshold. All was good, and then the App Store hit. Thousands upon thousands of insanely cheap outlets for my free time just a touch away. And they were too easy to buy, almost fun. One tap to change the Buy button to green, preparing for the go ahead. One more tap and you knew it was only a matter of minutes before a new toy was dropped off on your homescreen. The receipt would be emailed to you in a few days, and you ended up spending less than you would have for gas to even get you to a physical store. I may not have thought it was much money at the time, but even the smallest grains of sand, when amassed, can cover hundreds of miles of shoreline.

Oh, and that .99 cent app you just bought? It, with tax added on, is actually costing you $1.06 (with Ohio tax rates at least). As soon as you shove the price up above that .99 sweet spot, things get a little more realistic. I knew the only way to really give myself an edge in this battle was to cut away completely. Five minutes later in my iTunes account settings, I had found, and removed the credit card I had on file. Since it will be a hassle to add it back every time I check out a new app, I see this being a very effective deterrent. So far, it’s working great.

Sometimes you have to go to an extreme to help compensate for a personal weakness. Mine was impulse buying. By removing my credit card, I can’t buy another app even if I wanted to. Drastic? Maybe a little, but if it means that I start saving a couple dollars here and there for the things that really matter to me, then it’s worth every penny.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011