10 Ways to Make the Cloud Work for You

Pinch Your Pennies
Aggregating all of your pertinent monetary and investment details into one cloud-based financial management app may help you to get a better grip on your finances. At least, we hope it does. iStock/Thinkstock

If you've ever experimented with spreadsheets, then you know how technology can improve the budgeting process. The right tools can crunch your numbers more efficiently and display the data in all sorts of useful ways. This in turn helps you to understand where every penny is going.

Now it's possible to get all of that functionality -- for free -- from an application running in the cloud. As with all Web-based services, you must first create an account with a provider. In most cases, you'll be connecting your various accounts to the financial management application so it can track transactions and make sense of your expenses and deposits. You can then tell the system how you want to get timely reminders about payment due dates, low balances and credit card limits. When it's tax time or simply time to assess where you stand financially, you can generate an array of reports that summarize your spending, income, net worth and account balances over time.

Mint, from the makers of Quicken, is one of the most popular Web-based financial management applications. It's a read-only service, however, which means you can organize and analyze your finances with Mint, but you can't move funds. If you want to monitor your bills and then actually pay them electronically, then consider Check, which supports bill-pay features. In fact, Check is most useful as a mobile app, allowing you to pay a bill, right from your phone, while you're away from your computer.