A free desktop and mobile expense tracker for a small household of two people for maximum flexibility of splitting expenses, categorizing them and displaying balances and pie charts with support for multiple currencies.
Expense and Finance Apps’ Limitations
There are literally hundreds of expense and finance apps available to help keep track of expenses and split your restaurant bills. Most of them can categorize and assign spends and look pretty. However none solves our specific household scenario; A couple (or any two people) who share expenses in one way or another. Rent and utilities might split 50/50 between them, but groceries split with a different percentage due varying consumption habits. I have seen some apps take care of split percentages but there was either 1. no mobile app 2. did not sync 3. was not free of charge.
Instead I set out to create a dynamic spreadsheet using Google Sheets (previously Google Spreadsheets). It’s easily accessible from your Google Drive from within your Gmail window, or simply as a shortcut/favourite on your browser bookmarks bar. The mobile Google Drive app is available for both Android and iOS. The template is already created for you and is completely free to use. Scroll down for the link.
Functionality and Usage
The aim is to be able to access the sheet on the go, as soon as you have paid at the cashier or when you sit at home with a bunch of reciepts to enter. The idea is to enter a name, date, amount and category of each purchase and then mark who has paid for it as well as calculate how much the other person in the household owes you for it. As simple as that. The total amount of all purchases is automatically shown at the top at all times as well as how much each person owes the other. Here is a typical entry:
Setting the Main Currency
The sheet comes preset with Malaysian Ringgit as the main currency, however it is really easy to change. Let’s assume we want to change the sheet to US Dollars (USD) as default. Here is the procedure:
Overview and Summaries
The balance field on the main sheet shows the balance to be paid by each person to be square with each other. The Summary Sheet shows a breakdown of spendings in the various categories as well as a simple pie chart showing these as percentages of the Grand Total. It’s nice to see an overview of the household expenditure in a visual way.
Two fields in the top right has a 2-way currency conversion for quick access to the daily rates. I have added Australian Dollars (AUD) and Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) as I visit these two countries frequently. This is easily changed to accomodate other countries’ currencies. Here’s how to change it to CAD/USD:
So let’s say we have a short trip to Australia and we get back to Malaysia and need to enter an expense from the trip. We can always use a desk calculator to get the amount into Malaysian Ringgits, however the spreadsheet can do it for us. In the amount field start typing an equals sign to activate the field’s function. Type your AUD amount taken from the reciept. Type a multiply sign followed by a mouse click on the currency converter field. Press enter and Bob’s your uncle. Here is how to do it:
Get a copy of the Sheet
To use the Expense Tracker, visit this link and view the document. Go the the File-menu and choose “Make a copy”. This will create an identical copy of the document and place it in your own Google Drive as your own private editable file.
I really hope you are able to make use of it. Please leave comments below if you have any new ideas or improvements to suggest. It would be great to keep it a work-in-progress and keep making it better together.