Use Google docs to track your bucks – [spreadsheet forms idea]

Posted on July 14th, 2008 in hacks , ideas , Learn Excel , personal finance , technology - 11 comments

Each of us have our mechanisms to track how we spend money. We use Excel, various online sites and software like Quicken or Microsoft Money to track how we spend our bucks. The bottom line is to track where each penny / paisa / cent is going. So, how great would be it be, if by a click of mouse you can open a form that can take details of what you have spent the money on and add the details to the end of a huge list and let you analyze the expenses at leisure?

Well, you can do that using Google docs – spreadsheet forms with 4 simple steps. Doubt it? Take a look at expense tracker form that I have created here.

1. First create a new Google docs – spreadsheet.

Once you are inside the spreadsheet click on the “forms” tab as shown below.
1-creata-a-form.gif

This will open a new window where you can create a form. We will use this form to enter spending details.

2. Create a basic expenditure tracker form

We will now create a basic form with the following fields:

  1. How much you spent?
  2. What did you spent it on? A description for the spending
  3. Category of spending A list of categories from which you can choose

The first step is to name the form:

2-specify-form-name.gif

Next we will add 3 fields as shown below, the process is very easy, just try for yourself.

3-add-fields-spending.gif

4-add-fields-description.gif

5-add-fields-categories.gif

Finally we will save our expenditure tracking form:

6-save-the-form.gif

3. Now lets start entering expenses in our form

When you are done, click on the “Next, choose recipients” option. This screen will show the form:

7-share-the-form.gif

Bookmark the form url shown in the screen and this is the url we will access whenever you want to enter new expense.

Once you enter few expenses the spreadsheet will look like this:

8-sameple-sheet-with-data.gif

See how Google adds the time stamp to each expense. This is a good thing as you dont have to enter the expense date. You can use this column to see how much you are spending everyday (provided you enter information as soon as possible)

4. Analyze the tracked expenses

What is the use of tracking when you are not analyzing. You can use built-in charts in Google docs to do some analysis of the expenses. I did a bar chart to show what is possible.

9-spending_by_category1

Take a test drive at the expense tracker form by accessing the one here.

Photo from pfala.

Written by Chandoo
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11 Responses to “Use Google docs to track your bucks – [spreadsheet forms idea]”

  1. Thanks for this! Very useful! Created one for myself in about three minutes with your help!

  2. Chandoo says:

    @Dennis ... thanks for the comments, welcome to PHD. Check out the other excel stuff / tech tips to findout what more you like... 🙂

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  5. daniel says:

    Do you have knowledge of already exising templates?, ie from where I might download some forms? (I know , i know, you have laid it out quite clearly above, but I wish to see how others might have done it, and wish to see also many more categories, expense types if someone else had done this>)

    Thanks,
    dantravels

  6. jenny says:

    This is brilliant!

    Thank you.

  7. jd says:

    how did you build the chart?
    Want to analyze my data but dont know how to set values in chart

  8. Fuji says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this useful information. I have set up my own "expense tracker" by following your instructions and it is great. The only problem I am having is that when I try to make a pie chart it does not consolidate the categories - for example, all the "eating out" entries are given their own pie wedge -is there a way to consolidate the categories so all the "eating out" entries are shown as one single pie wedge? Thank you!

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