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Google Sheets is the best free spreadsheet for anyone trying to budget—here’s how to get started

Select reviews Google Sheets so you can decide if it’s the right tool for budgeting your money.

Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

If you’ve never built a budget before, the thought of tracking all of your expenses and sources of income can seem like an immense task. While the act of tracking your everyday expenses might seem tedious and hard to keep up with, there are a number of apps that make it easier for people to understand where they should save or spend.

With so many different apps on the market, it can be hard to know which one is the best fit for you. Select compared over a dozen options when rating the best budgeting apps and best expense tracker apps, and we found that the most popular ones have nearly 5 out of 5-star ratings and thousands of customer reviews.

We ranked Google Sheets as the best free spreadsheet for anyone trying to budget. Google Sheets is completely free, offers a wide variety of different templates and can be connected to third-party software to automatically import your bank transactions.

Below, we review Google Sheets to give you all the details on its features, including the tools, perks, safety, pricing, availability and ratings so you can decide if it is the right choice for managing your money.

Google Sheets review

Google Sheets

Google Sheets

Information about Google Sheets has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by Google Sheets prior to publication.
  • Cost

    Free

  • Standout features

    Gmail account users can access a variety of free budgeting templates to help get started

  • Categorizes your expenses

    Users manually input their expenses, but some budgeting templates offer preset categories

  • Links to accounts

    No, but some templates offer third-party add-on software that automatically pulls financial transactions into Google Sheets

  • Availability

    Offered on web browser and smartphone devices

  • Security features

    Google server protection: Unless you’ve shared your Google Sheet with someone, nobody can access your files without your Gmail account username and password. For this, Google offers two-factor authentication and physical security keys like YubiKey

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Free to use with your Gmail account
  • Google Sheets can be accessed from anywhere via the mobile app
  • Templates help users navigate making a budget
  • Hands-on approach forces users to really think about each transaction they make
  • Third-party add-on software available on some templates to import your banking transaction data
  • Security features include Google server protection

Cons

  • Requires users to manually input transactions and other data, unless third-party add-on software is available with template
  • Offers so many different budgeting templates that it may be overwhelming to choose the best one for you

Budgeting tools

Google Sheets requires users to manually input all of their expenses and income. While this may be time-consuming and tedious, doing so can help you understand exactly how you’re spending your money each month.

Perks

While Google Sheets can seem like a hassle because you have to manually enter information, users can benefit from a wide variety of free templates that can make tracking your spending habits much easier. Some templates even have preset categories.

There are numerous third-party budget templates you can find online with a quick search, but Google provides two options in its template section: an annual budget and a monthly budget. Both templates are comprehensive, allowing you to itemize all of your expenses and income flows into various preset categories and subcategories that you can change based on your needs. The annual budget template also provides a month-by-month summary of your income, expenses and net savings.

For users who want to simplify the budgeting process, some Sheets templates are connected with third-party software that allow you to import your financial transaction data.

Safety

Google Sheets is secure for tracking your finances because it works through Google server protection: Unless you’ve shared your Google Sheet with someone, nobody can access your files without your Gmail account username and password. If you’re interested in making your Google account more secure, the company offers two-factor authentication and physical security keys like YubiKey.

Pricing

Google Sheets is a completely free way to start budgeting — all you need is a Gmail account.

Availability and ratings

Google Sheets is offered on web browser and smartphone devices. The Google Sheets app is available in the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android).

Rating in App Store at time of writing: 4.8 out of 5 (over 900,000 ratings)

Rating on Google Play at time of writing: 4.0 out of 5 (over 100,000 ratings)

Bottom line

If you’re new to budgeting and like the idea of manually entering your expenses and income into a spreadsheet, Google Sheets is the best free option out there.

Users have access to different template options, third-party add-on software for certain templates and the ease of accessing their spreadsheet both on their computer and their phone.

For those who want a budgeting app that easily syncs to their bank account and credit card and automatically categorizes their expenses, consider Mint. The budgeting app is also completely free and comes with a few more bells and whistles, including alerting you when you’re over budget, if you’ve incurred ATM fees or have payments due.

 

Our methodology

To determine which free budgeting tools offer the best user experience, Select analyzed over a dozen different budgeting tools and looked at their features and user reviews.

We narrowed down our ranking by looking for at least one pick in each of the following categories: spreadsheets, desktop software and smartphone apps. We wanted variety in the ways users can build their budget, and we ranked each tool by who it is best designed for (anyone, beginners, investors or small business owners).

The five tools we selected for this ranking are all free and easy to use. For our selection, we also favored budgeting tools that have strong user reviews.

Other factors we looked at included the security features, user customization and illustrative data insight, such as graphs and reports, that are available.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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