How to Use the Cloud to Reduce Expenses

Many people are looking to cut expenses. Personally, I’ve shaved at least a couple thousand dollars a month from my expenses by downsizing to one car, cutting out lots of monthly recurring fees, and looking closely at which services I can now shift to the cloud.

Software: Contact managers, office documents, media editing programs, you name it: if there is a software version, there is probably a cloud-based version, and often for free. Just search for the name of the software you use plus “free online.”

Data storage: Backing up your data is absolutely fundamental. And while you can buy a two terabyte hard drive for under $100 (and you should), you can also get free online backup all day long. But you won’t find anything free that includes more than 100 gigabytes, and most free services provide between two and 25 gigabytes. Search for “free online backup.” I need terabytes, so I pay.

Media: Are you still getting a newspaper delivered? Cutting out a newspaper can save $15 – $30 or more every month. Most newspapers offer an online equivalent for free or for a small fee. If your paper is now charging, like The Boston Globe and The New York Times, look to other dailies in your region that don’t.

Are you actually watching all that much cable television? If you break down your cable bill it’s at least $2 per day, and some people pay as much $7 – 9 per day! Cloud-based services like Hulu and Netflix cost less than a dollar a day and offer lots more customized entertainment.

Are you paying for satellite radio? Sirius? Are you serious? That’s over a $150 a year! Internet radio options such as Pandora offer free versions that keep you tuned in and entertained. They are also available on smartphones.

Telephone: Still paying for a landline? If you have a mobile, you may not  need a landline. But what’s even cheaper is cloud-based Skype. You can use your smartphone or PC to call any Skype user for free, or any number in the U.S. from anywhere in the world for $3 per month! Google Voice has a great product too, but Skype is still a little friendlier.

And are you even using a fax machine anymore? I do, so I have to have something in place to send or receive faxes. Scanning documents is easy with an all-in-one scanner, printer, and fax, so many documents can be emailed. But services like cost less than $10 per month and allow you to receive faxes through the cloud in your email.

Paper Statements: Look closely at all your bills. In the past five years, many companies have given consumers the option of going paperless, receiving statements via email, and viewing them in the cloud. They have also provided options for electronic funds transfers. Some are even charging extra to send paper statements and to process paper checks. By going all cloud-based, you could probably save a few bucks every month.

Shopping: I still drive to buy food, home hardware like nuts and bolts, and some clothes. Otherwise, electronics, appliances, shoes, and pretty much everything else can be bought online. Amazon, Zappos and many eBay sellers often provide unbeatable prices because they have much less overhead and free shipping to boot!

Saving money is fun when it’s done in the cloud. It’s smart and when it’s done right it’s more secure, too!

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto. Disclosures

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