Is it easier to manage your finances in the cloud that with regular old pen and paper.
Is it easier to manage your finances in the cloud that with regular old pen and paper. - 
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The holiday season may be a time when you don't even want to look at your personal finances because it feels like money is flying out the door.

You certainly don't want to go to a website that puts all your financial accounts in one place and makes charts and graphs out of your money - or do you?

Judging by the success of some of these sites, more and more Americans think it's a good idea to do just that. The industry leaders in this sector include MintLearnVestYodlee, and Buckster. So how can you judge whether joining one of these sites is right for you?

"It can be busy work," says Marketplace's senior producer of personal finance Paddy Hirsch. He notes it takes a lot of time and effort to input all your data and keep it up to date. "But if you're really committed to doing this, the one thing you should be most careful about is security."

All of your financial data will be centralized in these systems, which, in some cases, then store the information in the cloud.

Hirsch points out that while they are well developed platforms, in order to make all those charts, they need a lot of information about your spending and saving habits. He says you've got to feel comfortable about surrendering all of that information if you're going to get the most out of the site.

Another hazard? Many of the sites are free -- which means they often bombard you with deals and ads.

Still, it isn't all bad, says Hirsch. "They can be extremely useful to people who are trying to balance budgets and trying to get their personal spending habits under control," he points out.

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As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Paddy Hirsch at @paddyhirsch