When it comes to managing our money and investments, creating financial plans, or analyzing our retirement portfolio, I’m all about the free stuff. There are lots of online money management tools around. Google has them as well. I like them because they are easy to use and can be found all in one place. There are two distinct sets of free money management tools available from Google. One set is found in the new and improved Google Finance. The other set is found in Google Docs templates.
Using Google Finance Tools for Free Money Management
One feature that I like best about portfolio management in Google Finance is that you can enter your actual transactions. That way your portfolio display contains accurate data in real money terms, reflecting a real asset allocation. If you have numerous transactions to enter from other data available to you, you can import them directly into your portfolio using an OFX file. Most spreadsheet and money management software programs can export data to an OFX file. Just look for the “export” utility in your software.
Google Finance has lots of other nice features including some that are brand new:
- Recent quotes for your investments are streamed in real time and are now displayed in the left-hand navigation bar from any page on the site.
- You can now customize placement of sections on your Google Finance homepage using a drop-down arrow on the right side of a section title bar. Click the arrow and move that section up, down, all the way to the top of the page, or minimize it. This is similar to customizing your iGoogle page.
- Comparing related companies (for stock research) is now easy with an interactive tool. From any company summary page, click “Add or Remove Columns” in the Related Companies section, and add the financial data you are interested in tracking.
- Charting of technical indicators (for you technical analysis investors) is now available. The chart below (courtesy of the Google Finance blog) is one example.
Overall, Google Finance is an excellent resource for assembling and using free investment and money management tools without you having to own or install any software except a browser. By the way, you can also access your Google Finance portfolio from many mobile devices.
Free Financial Spreadsheet Tools from Google Docs
One of my computing goals is to use “cloud computing” as much as possible. This means no application software clogging up my laptop or desktop. Instead, I prefer to use web-based applications. Google is a leader in that trend.
Google Docs is a set of office-type applications, including a word processor compatible with Microsoft Word and a spreadsheet program compatible with Excel. Google has gone beyond providing the browser-based software for free. It has also made available 33 different personal finance templates that you can use with its Google Docs applications.
The templates are organized into three different sections. (See below.)
Here is a list of all of the personal finance templates.
Because these are all web-based applications, you can use and access your free money management tools from any computer using your private Google Account. No need to carry around data or software.
If you want to use the templates off-line, Google Docs does have an offline usage feature (you will have to load some code onto your computer) or you can try to convert the templates into another format.
Give Google Docs and its personal finance templates a try. You might like them. Being free helps. More money management tools will likely be added in the near future.
Photo credit: Bright tal