An expense counter is vital if you’re budgeting or need to know where your money is going. Google Forms is a free form builder that’s great for tracking expenses.
Google Forms is highly customizable, so while it can also be used as a survey, RSVP tool, contact form, product registration sheet, or any other Q / A form, you can turn it into your own expense counter by selecting expense related questions
The Google Forms expense counter can track whatever you want in relation to a transaction, and since it works great from your phone, it will always be with you wherever you go.
You can stop saving receipts or try to decrypt a credit card charge; just open the expense tracker right after you spend your money to write down all the important details and send them to a spreadsheet that you can review later.
Tip: Check out our list of the best budgeting and expense tracking apps for other ways to track expenses. They are not as easy to customize as Google Forms, but they have their advantages.
Select what you want to track
The idea behind the expense counter is to keep track of what you are spending your money on, so there are a few basic details to include in your form. But depending on what you want to track, you may need additional fields on the form.
Here are some examples of what you can track:
- Price: How much is this transaction worth?
- Shop: Where do you spend your money?
- Description: What are you spending your money on?
- Category: What type of purchase is this (entertainment, food, bill, etc.)?
- Payment method used: How do you pay for it (which card / bank / application)?
- Who led the cost: if multiple people use the form
- Notes: Any additional notes you need to make?
When deciding what to include in your Google Forms expense counter, remember that you want the margins to be as wide as possible so that they can be applied to whatever you buy. You don’t necessarily need a field that asks what food you buy, for example, unless it’s a food expense counter; you can also use it to record rental payments and phone bills.
In this note, you can make any of the fields on your expense tracking form required or optional. So, if you need a really specific field for something, just make it optional so you don’t have to use it for every transaction.
Create a Google Forms expense tracker
This is a sample expense counter, so yours should by no means look exactly like this one. We use general questions with even broader answers to show how it works. You will find that editing a form is extremely easy, so you shouldn’t have any problems customizing it for yourself.
- Open Google Forms
- Select Blank to start. a new shape.
- Rename the form to something recognizable.
- Select the first field and change it to Short Answer.
- Name this price, make sure the Is number is displayed, and then check the Must button.
- Use the plus sign in the menu on the right to add a new question, but this time select Multiple Choice.
- Name this one Store, then fill in the options with the regular stores you shop at. Others are added by default, so if you end up making a purchase from another store, you can enter it there.
- Keep filling out the form by asking various questions that you want to ask yourself every time you buy something. Use the suggestions above, such as a payment method and a descriptive question, to provide as much detail as possible. This will come in handy later when we interpret all the results from the form.
- Use the preview button (eye icon) at the top of Google Forms to get the URL of your form. You can share it with anyone you want to use the form with, or send it to yourself so it’s easily accessible from your phone.
This is not necessary, but your form can also include images, headers, and a unique color scheme. A colorful form can make spending tracking fun, if possible! The paint icon at the top of the page is where you go to make these changes.
Each record from your form is collected into a nicely formatted spreadsheet in Google Sheets. Select ANSWERS at the top of the form, and then click the spreadsheet icon to rename it (if desired).
After the spreadsheet opens, create a new tab at the bottom and name it something like “Calculations”.
From there, you can do everything that Google Sheets supports: add up all your expenses over a period of time, create graphs to visually understand your expenses, see who is spending the most money, determine which stores are costing you the most, and more.
Using these types of formulas in Google Sheets is beyond the scope of this article, but let’s look at something very basic, like adding up all of the expenses for each person, so we can really see who spends the most. You can always change the formula to calculate how much you spend at each store.
The easiest way to add up all expenses, regardless of the person who made the transaction, is to run an amount formula, for example:
= sum (‘Form Responses 1’! B: B)
This calculation works for our example because the price column from the form responses is in column B.
Here’s a Google Sheets formula that shows a much more detailed look at how much each person is spending:
= sumif (‘Form Responses 1’! G: G, ”Jeff”, ’Form Responses 1’! B: B)
It works like this: enter sumif and then select the column containing the names (G in our example). The next part identifies the name Jeff. Finally, select a heading for the prices column so that when another column matches the name we chose, only those prices are added.
Check out the list of Google Sheets features to learn about other ways to interpret data from your form. Another way to see your expenses is with a chart or graph; Google has a guide on this.