Creating a budget, tracking your income and expenses, and holding yourself accountable for your great and not-so-great spending choices can be time-consuming.
And it only gets more complicated when you budget with a significant other. Luckily, Google Sheets makes collaborating on a budget easy. Here are five tips to help you get started:
1: Share your budget spreadsheet.
In order to budget together and hold each other accountable, you need to be working from the same information. Start by sharing your budget spreadsheet.
It’s as easy as clicking the blue “Share” button in the upper right corner of the screen and then inputting your co-budgeter’s email address into the dialogue box.
2: Create a “Person” column within your budget to tag income and expenses by person.
Most couples tend to have a spender and a saver. To build solid financial habits as a couple, you need to know who is spending money and what each person is purchasing. Create a column in your budget that allows you to tag each line item with the name of the person responsible.
In many couples, there is one person responsible for grocery shopping and paying the bills, which may be shared expenses. If that’s the case, tag these expenses as “Shared” to avoid artificially inflating that person’s spending.
Then you can create a pivot table to show total spending in each category by person. In the menu bar, go to “Data” → “Pivot table.”
The pivot table editor will open on the right sidebar so you can customize the layout of your data and gain a better understanding of how you’re spending your money.
3: Send an email to your co-budgeter directly from your spreadsheet
If you see a purchase you don’t recall making, you can quickly send an email to your co-budgeter within your spreadsheet to gain some clarification. Read more.
Click on the cell you want to comment on, then from the menu bar choose “Insert” → “Comment.” In the dialogue box, type “@” and then the email address of your co-budgeter.
4: Protect important cells
The more complicated your budget spreadsheet, the easier it is to break. If you’re worried you or your co-budgeter might accidentally change or delete a cell that is critical to the integrity of your budget spreadsheet, protect it. In the menu bar, go to “Data” → “Protected sheets and ranges.” A sidebar will open that allows you to choose the cell, range or cells, or sheet you wish to protect.
5: Add visuals
Let’s face it, budgets can be boring. Adding colors and visual representations not only make budgets more visually appealing but can also add clarity. Here are several examples.
To quickly see if you’re over or under your budget in a specific category, use conditional formatting to change the color of the cells based on your progress.
To track spending by category over time, use the SPARKLINE formula to create mini line graphs within a cell.
Finally, create a pie chart to see a visual breakdown of your spending by category.
With Google Sheets, you and your co-budgeter can easily track your income and expenses and hold each other accountable to your budget so you can achieve your financial goals.