Looked at in one way, an iPod touch or iPhone represents a multi-hundred-dollar hole in your bank account. In another way, though, these devices are tools to help you save money. In fact, with some smart strategy, you can use an iOS device to save around $1,000 a year.
Doing this requires that you already own the device of course--buying a new iPod or iPhone will seriously cut into your savings--but if you have an iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, check out these tips to help you save hundreds or thousands.
Save $700: Cancel Your Cable
The average American household spends US$75/month--$900/year--on cable TV. Thanks to increasingly robust options for getting entertainment online, you can cut your cable and save hundreds. A streaming-only Netflix subscription provides movies and TV shows for $7.99/month. Hulu Plus, which offers TV shows faster than Netflix, and some movies, is also $7.99/month (though, for now, it's limited to the iPad).
Replacing a $75 cable bill with Netflix and Hulu at $15.98 saves a little over $700 a year (the savings could be higher if you already subscribe to Netflix and don't need to add its cost).
Check out the web-connected Apple TV for easy streaming of Netflix to your living room.
Have you ever stood in a store holding a product you want to buy, worried that you can get the same item for less online? Thanks to a number of iPhone shopping apps, you can forget that worry. These apps use the iPhone's digital camera to scan the barcode on a product and get prices for it from online retailers. Get in the habit of using these apps when you're making purchases--of everything from HDTVs to groceries to tools--and you can save hundreds each year.
Text messaging plans for the iPhone cost from $5/month for 200 messages to $20/month for unlimited texts. You can snip those charges off your monthly bill by using one of the many free texting apps available for the iPhone (and iPod touch and iPad).
These apps require that you get a separate phone number for your friends to send texts to, but the savings may be worth that small inconvenience. Some of the apps offer paid upgrades, but you'll still save even if you purchase them.
Save $25-$75: Buy eBooks Instead
The average American spends $118/year on books (though readers of this are site above average, right?), according to a 2099 U.S. Dept. of Labor report. Generally speaking, eBooks are 10-20% cheaper than their printed counterparts. If you switch all your book buying away from paper to eBooks, you could save from $12-$36. Assuming that you read more than the average American, expect to roughly double those savings.
To take advantage of these savings, you'll need a device that can read eBooks--iOS devices run Apple's iBooks app, Amazon's Kindle app, and others--and an account, such as an iTunes account, with the online bookstores your prefer.
Save $25-$75: Buy Less, or Cheaper, Music
If you buy two albums of music a month on regular-priced CD, buying a digital download from iTunes instead will save a few dollars. If the same album is available at eMusic, a competing download store, you may be able to save a few dollars more even compared to iTunes. That's because many albums that cost $9.99 at iTunes cost $7 or less at eMusic. If you subscribe to eMusic, you can take advantage of these savings.
What's better than cheap music? Free music. That's what's offered by a number of iOS apps. Most of them stream music over the web, rather than letting you own it, but the savings get huge if you stop buying music altogether.
A lot of us have older iPhones or iPods sitting around the house not being used after an upgrade. If you're one of those people, you're leaving potential cash sitting around. These are a number of companies that buy used used iPhones, iPods, and iPads. Shop around the sites and, if you're realistic about the condition of your device, you'll be surprised by how much money you can get for a used iPod.