With the unemployment rate in the United States hanging close to the 10 percent mark at the end of 2010, up from 2008's 7.4 percent, pinching pennies and sticking to a tight budget is as important as ever. Fifteen million people out of work is the sign of a struggling economy -- and even when the economy is healthy, knowing how to manage your money is a valuable skill [source: Trading Economics]. You may know you can afford to go out to eat and hit the movies every now and then, but do you know how much you should be saving for retirement? Do you even know how much money you spend on snack foods every month? Could you be using a credit card that gives you cash back for every purchase?
An amazing array of high-tech tools exists to help us answer every one of those questions. They range from the complex software applications like Quicken that offer precise control of every transaction coming and going through our bank accounts, to simple resources like AnnualCreditReport.com. Whether you need to craft a budget to plan for retirement or pick out a new credit card with a low interest rate, there's a tool out there waiting to be used. We'll start with powerful software that can take charge of your entire financial life, then move on to free Internet solutions that can also be incredibly useful.