Here’s the Google spreadsheet I use to track my expenses

A friend of mine started freelancing at the end of last year, so I decided to give him a boring but useful present: a blank copy of the Google Docs spreadsheet I use to track my expenses.

old calculatorA systematic, easily smartphone-accessible way to record the costs of doing business–organized so you can copy the year-end totals into your Schedule C tax form–is exactly the thing I needed when I started freelancing almost eight years ago. Instead, I had to survive some excruciatingly stupid accounting practices and eventually thumb-wrestle my way to marginal competence.

I was glad to give my friend a boost past that phase, and now I want to do the same for any self-employed types reading this. Here you go: Make a copy of this template (go to the File menu and select “Make a copy…”) to your Google account and get to work.

This template is organized by types of expense, with the biggest categories in my case–travel and meals and entertainment–getting their own sheets. When possible, I’ve aligned types of costs with TurboTax’s vocabulary to reduce springtime tax-prep confusion. In addition, you’ll see a box in which you can plug in the relevant numbers for a home-office deduction, but I recognize that not every 1099-income type will claim that.

I’ve also left comments throughout the spreadsheet (look for the orange triangle at the upper-right corner of a cell) explaining what goes where. If you see ways to simplify this or if you think the spreadsheet is missing an important angle, please let me know in an e-mail or a comment below this post.

I hope this helps. Good luck with your business!


17 thoughts on “Here’s the Google spreadsheet I use to track my expenses

  1. Why not use an expense tracking app? This spreadsheet was great several years ago, but by using an app you can scan your receipts allowing you to throw the original away and letting the app read the details to eliminate a lot (not all) of your typing. As a freelancer all you need to do is run some reports at the end of the year to show all your expenses. Not sure what Expensify gives you for free, but if it’s not enough look at Zoho.

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  7. I appreciate you thank you. I prefer a method of this type as apps have tendency to crash or get finicky at times. I did look up the apps mentioned in the comments and after reading the reviews on those apps, I resorted back to your template. It’s perfect! Thanks a ton!

  8. Trying to understand how the home office section in the 2nd worksheet (beginning F2) is to be used? And TK sq feet?

    • “TK” is journalese for “to come,” meaning the reporter writes that in place of a data point they don’t have yet. (“TC” doesn’t stick out in a sentence as much as “TK” does.) The ratio of your home office’s square feet to your home’s total square feet then determines what fraction of the expenses below count as home-office costs (unless you have costs unique to your home office). I’ve added comments in the spreadsheet to explain these points–thanks for asking about them!

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