Google Sheets

After years of updating spreadsheets to track individual portfolios, I moved over to Google Sheets and there have been many benefits:

  • Google Sheets are FREE and Microsoft excel can be expensive, especially if you run on multiple personal machines
  • Google Sheets are easily connected to the web so that you can set stock prices and other market data to update AUTOMATICALLY when you open the file
  • Google Sheets can be easily SHARED with other users, and you can uniquely permission each spreadsheet
  • There is a great Google Sheets APP for IOS (and Android) that lets you view spreadsheets on your mobile and it is easy for viewing (not necessarily for updating)
  • Google Sheets have equivalent functionality with Excel for most purposes, and exceed Microsoft in other areas (like recommending graphs, connectivity with the web, cost, etc…)
  • While older users still rely on Excel, there is a whole generation of younger users who grew up on Chromebooks in school and are actually more familiar with Google Sheets than Excel.  Since this site is attempting to help build wealth and teach financial literacy to kids (now young adults), this tool is closer to my target demographics
  • For my purposes, it is easy to build interconnected sheets where I “update once” and it propagates, live, across other Google Sheets files.  For instance I do my comments and categorizations on individual stocks one time in a central sheet and it works across all of the connected sheets
  • I actually enjoy working with new technology and automating functions and making them real-time and available on apps.  Doing it this way has automated 90% of the effort to update all 8 portfolios.  There still are functions I can’t automate yet (assigning dividends to individual stocks, and calculating “yield”) but they are being reduced day-by-day
  • All the files are shared out on a drive where they can’t be lost or deleted if your machine crashes.  They are secured by Google and only those that you give access can have access.  Google is obsessive about security and appears to take action quickly when there are security gaps
  • Google Sheets are constantly adding features.  Even during the 18 months or so since I’ve converted over, many new powerful improvements have been added

If you look for the tag “Google Sheets”  you will see the various posts that are talking or related to the use of Google Sheets for financial portfolios.

There are some downsides to Google Sheets, although I am very happy overall.

  • There is documentation if you look around a bit on the web, but few standard ways to get a good grasp of some of the more powerful functions in Google Sheets.  This will probably improve in the future
  • The service can be a bit spotty, as far as stock prices.  Sometimes I go into the tool and certain stocks are not updating or acting in a manner I didn’t anticipate.  Then I go onto the forum for Google Sheets and I usually see dozens of folks already complaining about it and then it is usually resolved.  Since the service is free, it is difficult to complain

At some point I may work to contribute these templates to an open forum.  Or possibly even create an eBook showing how someone can do this themselves.  In general my belief is in democratizing and reducing the complexity involved in investing, and using modern and free tools to do so.