In tough economic times, we can all do with some help when it comes to finances. We've rounded-up the 12 best free apps on the web that will help you beat the recession by saving you money.

The phrase on everyone's lips this year is 'credit crunch'. Not a day goes by without someone bemoaning the effects of the economic downturn. In fact, in times like these, we could all do with some help where our finances are concerned.

That's where we come in. We've trawled the web to round-up 12 free apps designed to help save you money. Whether you want to put your household budget in order, extend the life of your PC by keeping it in tip-top shape, or save hundreds on a new productivity suite or operating system, we have what you need. And, with a single exception, all of these downloads are free.

Software for managing your finances

Accounts & Budgets Free
One of the best ways to make sure you don't get into debt is to track your money, every day, properly. If you're looking for a simple, no-cost program to monitor your money, give Accounts & Budgets Free a try.

It's no personal-finance heavyweight, but for keeping tabs on funds entering and leaving a single account, not to mention creating reports, it's a solid bet. Input every transaction in your account, and you'll be able to track your money by category (food, car expenses, insurance, and so on). You can also make visual reports, plan budgets, create reminders and more.

The free software will manage only one account, but a for-pay version is available for handling more. This program is from a French developer, and the English translation isn't always ideal, but the application is easy to figure out despite the occasionally awkward phrasing.

Debt Reduction Calculator
Are you in over your head, be it with credit-card debt, a car loan, a mortgage, or something similar? Pulling yourself out of such a hole can be tough; each month the problem worsens, as you pay off only the interest and not the principal. Often it feels like no end is in sight.

With some smart financial planning, however, you can erase your debt. If you can't afford to hire a financial planner - and if you're in debt, you probably don't have the ready cash to do that - the free Excel spreadsheet 'Debt Reduction Calculator' is a great alternative.

The spreadsheet and accompanying documentation provide a variety of strategies and what-if scenarios to help you eliminate your debt, such as the 'snowball' strategy (in which you pay the lowest balance first). Input your plans for paying off each of your debts, and then you can see the results, including the monthly payments, the total interest you'll pay, and so on. Follow the strategy, monitor its progress with the spreadsheet, and change strategies if you need to.

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  3. Apps to extend the life of your PC
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  6. A no-cost operating system