Making allowances

If you’re like a lot of iTunes Music Store customers, you occasionally bust your budget and purchase more music than you should. As an avid consumer of music I’m not about to tell you to muster greater self-control. Rather, I’d like to offer a technique I use to keep my purchases in check—giving yourself an allowance.

As you’re probably aware, the iTunes Music Store allows you to give other users a music allowance—in amounts between $10 and $200—that renews automatically each month. Regrettably, Apple forbids you from creating an allowance for the account you’ve logged in with.

The trick, therefore, is to create an additional Apple ID that supplies your original ID with an allowance. It works this way:

Launch iTunes and travel to the iTunes Music Store via the Music Store link. If you’re signed in to The Store, click your ID in the Account field in the upper right corner of the iTunes window and, in the resulting Sign In window, click Sign Out. Click Sign In in the Account field and in the Sign In window that appears, click Create New Account.

In the window that appears agree to the license agreement (if you don’t, everything stops here) and create a new account on the Step 2 of 3 page. Note that in order to do so you need an email address other than the one you used to create your original Apple ID—Apple tracks its users by email address. On the next page, enter your credit card information and complete the process.

One more note: You can create up to 5 Apple IDs with a single credit card number. Your request to create a 6th account tied to a particular credit card account will be denied.

Once you’ve signed in with the new account, click the Allowance link on The Store’s main page. Navigate through the allowance creation screens and enter your original Apple ID as the recipient for the allowance. You’ll have the option to start an allowance Right Now or to have the allowance kick in at the beginning of the next month.

Should you decide that you’ve been a bad boy or girl and don’t deserve the allowance, sign in with the account that purchased the allowance, click that name in the Account field, click View Account in the resulting window, click Manage Allowances in the window that appears, and finally click Remove or Suspend in the next window. (Within this last window you can also change the amount of the allowance should you find that you’re pinching your pennies a little too hard.)

The last step, of course, requires that measure of self-control. When you’ve used up your monthly allowance, Stop Buying Music!

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