Using Google Docs To Track Expenses Among Your Roommates [Productivity Tips]

Recently one of our readers emailed us, asking me to share productivity tips on how I use the computer on a day to day basis, the suggestion in itself was fantastic and I would be more than glad to share things I do in my day to day life to solve problems faced by me and what tricks and products I use to solve them and be more productive, hope you enjoy this new series and don’t forget to keep sending in your suggestions and questions, feel free to contact us and we will try our best to help solve your problem.


To make this series more interesting I would like to present it in a slightly different manner, dividing them into problems I faced, tools I took up to solve it and become more productive and in some cases, I may also include a short how-to on accomplishing the things I did, please feel free to suggest any changes you would like, we are always open to suggestions.

The Problem

After coming into US, me and my colleague started sharing a apartment, the sharing included rent, groceries, toiletries and any other things purchased that jointly benefited us. In the early days we used to collect the receipts of purchases and then tag them as Paid by Keithor Paid by Muraliand tally them at the end of the month to find the answer to Who owes How Much?and To Whom?.


Over the next few months, this got more and more difficult after one of my friends came in to live with us, we did switch to excel but everything was being updated at one place, that is my friends laptop. So if I made any purchase, I would have to pass on the receipt to him, which I forgot sometimes and then we had to re-tally at the end of the month with the missing receipts.

As you can see things were not working out properly even though we were only 2-3 people and it definitely created hassles in final calculations of Who owes How Much?

The Solution

One fine day I got fed-up of spending time to track expenses in a haphazard manner, not only did we have to keep a track of all receipts, we also began spending more time in things which could have been far more simpler.


So I though that since we have a excel file with all the formulas created, why not collaborate the document online and have anyone edit it, whenever someone made a purchase? That is when we uploaded the document to Google Docs and shared it amongst ourselves. The next time a individual made a payment, he would edit the document and add the purchase to his tally, on successful updates the rest of us would receive a email alert, telling us that the document has been updated.

This definitely solved a major problem and took away the pain of relying on a single person to maintain the expense sheet, it also saved us lot of time tallying against receipts since we no longer required to give it to the person who updated the excel file, anyone could chip-in and add their spending, with the rest of us being alerted about it.

How-To Create A Collaborated Spreadsheet In Google Docs

The Google Docs help section has some excellent articles on how to create spreadsheets online and use formulas in it, you can also check out the extensive resource of collaborating a spreadsheet amongst multiple users to share it amongst your roommates and friends.

If you already have a excel document with you, you can easily find help on how you can upload / import them into your Google Docs account.

Just a note that Google Docs does not support the Office 2007 file formats such as xslx, docx and pptx, but you can take advantage of our earlier article and convert them before you upload it, that is if you do not own a copy of Office 2007 itself.

Image Credits: 1, 2 and 3.

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Keith Dsouza

I am the editor-in-chief and owner of Techie Buzz. I love coding and have contributed to several open source projects in the past. You can know more about me and my projects by visiting my Personal Website. I am also a social networking enthusiast and can be found active on twitter, you can follow Keith on twitter @keithdsouza. You can click on my name to visit my Google+ profile.