A free expenses tool Google sheets, forms & Gmail

I have been looking at an expenses tool to monitor my spending.ย  I was looking at Google Apps Script video library and they had a video on building an app called Expense it!, it was meant to be on GSuit addons to Gmail but I couldn’t find it. Then I came across this article and I thought I’d try and set up the process, How to create an expense tracker with Google Forms and Sheets is a step by step article using Google Sheets and a form from within Sheets (I did not know you could do that) , so I thought I’d give it a try.

1. Create Sheet & form

2. Setting up the Form

Make sure you have date as a required field

Create another field

3. Email on phone

i filled out data on phone. I tried using 2 different Text Expander apps on Android, Texpander, this gives a limited number (about 10) shortcuts to expanded texts for free and I downloaded Textspansion to try and see if that was more extensive. With this I can use an abbreviation eg “nw” for “New World Supermarket” so speed up doing repetitive inputting for common terms.

Neither seemed to work in the reply email in email app on Android phone so I need to explore settings in Android both for the Text Expander apps and the email app. I tried the Gmail app and same issue, I even opened in Firefox on Mobile but Text Expander did not work.

I eventually got Phase Express text expander working. For some reason the text has to go to clipboard then you paste it in.ย  That sped up process of filling out common “payee’s”.

Another process I thought I’d explore is using Google Keep to take a photo of the receipt and using the OCR tool to extract text from the image. I’m not sure how I’d incorporate that into the flow but it was an interesting

4. Google Sheets

Filling in the app went ok and it ended up in the spreadsheet fine:

Unfortunately text expander did not work, so only abbreviations in Spreadsheet for Payees.

In google Docs there is a text expander process where it will do this for you, but not in Google Sheets, you have to write a ” Substitute” function as per this article which is too specific for my needs.

4. Link on phone

You can, in Google Forms, get a link. If you use this link in Firefox (most probably in all browsers) you can save, on android phone, to Desktop, so you can have the Expenses form as a desktop icon on your mobile phone home screen, so very easy to access and so easy to use!

End comment

The principle is great, the process works beautifully, it would be nice if I could get the text expander process to work with it, that would be really efficient and easy to use.

I will have to practice using it to see how it stacks up on a day to day basis. I think fossiking around to find that email may be a pain. I may need to do some research on email templates so that the form is easily accessed. I could embed the form or send it as a link.

The road testing of this will be interesting. It needs a bit of a field test. I like the principle, efficiency and simplicity of the process though.

Maybe a bit more of an explore into text expander apps on android too.

Comments on using app

I pinned a copy of the Form to the phone desktop. It is a bit slower than the email.ย  Also the date format is month, day, year and you have to put leading zero in for month and day. I have since been able to change this. You have to go to your google account settings for language, choose English, then it gives you options, like US, UKย  NZ Aus. I chose NZ and it changed date format to Day, Month, Year.

The email I found easy to do, unfortunately I got a bit confused. I emailed my hotmail account from my Gmail account, when testing, sometimes I’d use the Hotmail to reply and fill out form, and that would work fine, other times I’d use the gmail and email to my Hotmail, then it didn’t work. also in the email you had buttons for day/month so easy to scroll down to specific date.

I need to practice using it more. I’m please with it so far.

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