Idea: Harness the power of Google docs for personal finance

In my attempt to be uber responsible, fiscally, I get really involved in making spreadsheets and budget calendars in order to plan things to a T. So, while in my current wave of good stewardship, I started a new Excel spreadsheet, laying out my paydays with plans to pay everything as soon as I get paid and keeping up with my checkbook register in Excel. I’ve learned that if we get rid of all of our money on bills, we have no money to waste. Not always fun, but a good rule if you’re trying to avoid going negative in the ole bank account. The ability to calculate, undo, and format in Excel make it a much more efficient transaction register, versus a pencil and a paper with limited lines.

So, on to Google:
You can upload a spreadsheet from your computer to Google docs. Why is this important? Well, it makes that spreadsheet available anywhere you can safely log into your Google / Gmail account. And, if you have a significant other that you share finances with, it can be a great help to minimize duplicate efforts.

While working with my new spreadsheet in Google docs today, I found a feature called “forms”. I found this interesting, especially with my appreciation of databases and the ability to enter and store data via an interface, or “form”. So, I checked it out. This is what I found.

I created a simple three field form containing “Date”, “Description”, and “Amt”. This was very simple and self-explanitory. After saving the form, I emailed it to myself and filled it out and hit “submit”. Where did my data go? Well, turns out, if you create a Google docs “form”, Google docs creates a spreadsheet to hold your submitted data. Nice!

An added touch:
Now, since the URL to my simple little form was very long with the default Google docs created URL, I created a redirect within my own hosting account in order to shorten the URL. You may have this feature enabled in your hosting account; I have cpanel, so it was easy to find and set up. Otherwise, just bookmark your private form.

Between my husband and I, we have tested it on our Blackberry Storm phones, bookmarking it in the mobile browser for frequent use. Works like a charm. Now, as we spend money, we can post our checkbook transactions to our private spreadsheet from our mobile phones with no duplicate check book registers in our pocket. At the end of the day, I just pull up the spreadsheet and do my thing.

I accomplished making my checkbook digital, mobile, and easy to manipulate in financial efforts. I’m happy 🙂

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