One easy way to manage your money better is by laying everything out in a spreadsheet. You may think only businesses need them, but everyone needs to keep track of their finances. A spreadsheet is helpful because it provides a bird’s eye view of your financial situation.
You don’t necessarily have to buy financial software, either. You can use Google Sheets, a free online spreadsheet editor that works just like Microsoft Excel. You get 15GB of free storage, so you have room for a lot of financial spreadsheets.
You may be able to use it for years before updating to a paid financial software like our sponsor, Oracle Netsuite. More on that option later. Here are a few easy formulas you can use to make the most out of Google Sheets.
First thing’s first
You probably know that the little boxes you see within a Google Sheets spreadsheet are called cells. You may not know that each cell is a mini calculator. For example, you can type in an equation within a cell like this:
To find the solution, type = ahead of the equation, like so:
As you can see, the answer pops up. Pretty nifty, huh? This formula feature will be handy once you start inputting numbers into a spreadsheet.
Don’t think that Google Sheets is a simple calculator, though. It has a ton of impressive features. You can create your own equations with numbers in different cells. You can add two numbers in different columns or subtract two numbers in different rows.
For example, you can type A4+B4+C4 to add the numbers in those specific cells together. The cool thing about cell referencing is that you can change the values of the cells in the formula and the formula will update itself.
You can also merge cells, create thick black borders between cells, wrap text and much more. We found a comprehensive beginner’s guide if you want more general knowledge about what Google Sheets can do. Tap or click here to set yourself up for success with Google Sheets.
Now let’s move on to the helpful formulas
So you opened up a spreadsheet. Maybe you’re using a template to start on the right foot. Tap or click here for 10 free spreadsheet templates to help manage your finances.
Now that your data fills the cells in neat little formulas and columns, it’s time for the magic. With a few keystrokes, you can unlock secrets within your formidable data wall. There are many complex formulas, but since this is a basic overview, here are some simple Google Sheets formulas to start with:
This adds up a range of cells. Select a range and then click the sum button at the far right of the toolbar to use it. Say you’re curious about blockbuster statistics, so you create a new spreadsheet and highlight B4, C4 and D4:
Then, tap the SUM button, which looks like this:
After that, tap it again to get the total of these three cells. The result popped up in the empty cell to the right, as you can see below:
Say you want to find the average cost of making a blockbuster in the 2010s. In this sample spreadsheet, you’ll see a few highlighted production budgets. Press the SUM button and select Average, like so:
The solution materialized in a nearby blank cell as with the other formulas.
This formula counts the values in a range of selected cells. Just tap the SUM button in the upper right-hand area of your spreadsheet and tap Count. This is helpful in enormous spreadsheets when you lose track of everything.
Maybe you’re selecting a vast range of cells, and you want to see which cell has the largest number. Just tap SUM and Max.
Just like that, you hunted down the biggest number of the bunch.
This is the polar opposite of MAX. Follow the same steps: Select a range and hit SUM, then hit MIN. You’ll see the smallest number in the range you selected.
These five tips were pretty basic, but they’re the best Google Sheets formulas for beginners
We all need to start somewhere. Now that you have the easiest five formulas under your belt, you can move on to the next level: intermediate formulas. Some tricks let you replace or substitute cells. You can merge several strings into one text string, round numbers down, raise a number to a certain power and a lot more.
Want to learn more about Google Sheets formulas? We found a free online course that you can take to unlock the full potential of advanced formulas. Tap or click here for a 30-lesson course in Google Sheets formulas.
Need a little more help? It’s time for the pros
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