Cloud computing is one of the biggest trends in technology today. If you’re asking yourself, what is cloud computing?, then here’s the answer: it’s a vast, interconnected web of ‘virtual’ machines – sometimes tens of thousands of individual computers either in the same location or distributed across the world – providing everything you’ve come to expect from a computer, without actually needing the physical hardware. While this has many revolutionary aspects, today our focus is altogether more humdrum: how can we go about putting one of the greatest technological marvels of the 21st century to use? Specifically, how can using cloud computing save you money?
1. Access your personal finances everywhere, on any device.
Traditional personal finance software suffers from a few problems that the cloud can serve to eradicate. The first one is probably the most radical: getting immediate access to your financial situation without having to have a particular machine in tow.
For example, take Mint. It’s a US-only Cloud application – what the technically-minded refer to as Software as a Service (SaaS) – that’s just as happy checking your bank accounts from your laptop browser as it is through one of their many smartphone apps. Sure, Mint have done a great job with their product, but it’s cloud computing that’s enabled them to get there.
2. Analyse your spending habits, and set saving targets.
Again, personal spending analysis is something that’s seeing strong growth across the cloud-based personal finance industry. Little wonder, really – the cloud can handle the maths, leaving you with deep insights into your outgoings. Services such as the UK-only Money Dashboard (and, of course, the US-only Mint) are happy to serve up interactive charts and graphs of where your money is going. They’ll even categorize your spending automatically, by dragging purchase data from your bank account (neither Mint nor Money Dashboard can actually write to your bank account, meaning that your actual money is inaccessible), running some analysis and presenting you with advice to help you save.
3. Get a safety net to guard against wrongdoing.
Both bank account/card fraud and accidental overspends can have negative impacts on your credit rating – something you’ll need intact if you want to take out a mortgage or loan in the future. Most cloud-based personal finance applications let you set e-mail reminders at certain balances, or when certain requirements are met (such as a purchase of more than $1000 on your credit card). These reminders can help you to keep yourself out of trouble, but also to catch any identity or credit thieves before anything spirals out of hand.
Given the explosive popularity of cloud computing, it’s likely we’ll see the personal finance web application platter grow further over the coming months. That could make for better, faster, and cheaper services for you, all of which will offer the kinds of features we’ve touted here.