Create a Simple College Budgeting Tool With Formstack

Written by Chris Lucas on September 7, 2012

Posted in Education, Form Hacks

This post is a part of Formstack’s Back to School Campaign. From August 20-September 21, we’ll be sharing all things relating to higher ed, from how to survive your first semester of college to what cloud computing tools you should use as an educator. When it comes to all things campus, we’ve got you covered. Check out our campaign page for more information and enter to win a free semester of text books!

If you are like most college students, money is a constant thing on your mind. How much do I have? Where is it going?  Can I afford to buy books or beer? When you leave home, you suddenly find yourself managing a lot more in your life and one of those things is your checkbook (do young people really still have checkbooks?).  With that in mind, I wanted to share a few easy ways that you can use our form builder to quickly and easily manage your finances. Sure, I am a few (ahem) years removed from college, but hopefully this little system can help you like it’s helped me.

Step 1: Create Form

When I went to build my form in Formstack I wanted to make it super simple to use, so I kept a minimalist mindset. Because I am married, I added a field for who was spending the money. After that, I chose the three main ways I spend: Cash, Credit, and Debit. To come up with the categories, I looked at our budget and our last month of spending in our checking account. I was able to categorize most of my spending into some main buckets (groceries, clothing, etc.) without leaving too much out.

Step 2: Integrate With Google Spreadsheets

After you’ve set up your form, the easiest way to use your budgeting tool is to hook your form up with Google Spreadsheets. You can do this quickly in the Formstack settings area under “Third Party Integrations.” By integrating your form with Google Spreadsheets you don’t have to export data to run reports or to sort through your monthly spending. The main thing to remember when setting up your integrations is that your spreadsheet’s columns need to have the same names as the field names. So for instance my column headings had “Name,”  “Date,” “Expense Type,” and “Amount,” so they matched my form fields exactly.

Step 3: Go Mobile

With our mobile app, you can easily access all of your forms and submit new information to them straight form your phone. If you’d prefer to not download the app, no problem. Here is another solution for you: after you have linked your form to Google Spreadsheets, copy and paste the link to your form into an email. Open up your email on your phone and click the link to the form. Save that in your bookmarks (if you have a smartphone).  Now wherever you go you can open up your phone and enter the amount you just spent. No more having to save receipts and doing daily/weekly/monthly data entry into a spreadsheet. Plus, this makes you think about what you spend on a daily basis. If you are pulling out your phone constantly to enter expenditures it makes you stop and think a bit!


You can pull up your Google Spreadsheet anytime you wish and see what you’re spending, run reports, and view the categories you are spending the most on. This is also a great way to start building your budget if you don’t have one. You can see, pretty accurately, what you actually spend your money on.

This is a super simple way to keep track of your daily expenses without having to build a huge process or system. It’s easy to set up and simple to use on a daily basis. Try it out and let us know what you think!