5 tips to keep on top of your personal finances using Google products

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Quidblog loves to hear from enthusiastic Quidco members who are eager to help fellow savvy shoppers with their favourite money saving hints and tips. One such member, Martin Woods, recently got in touch asking to share his experience of using Google products to keep his personal finances in order...here's what he had to say.

It's really worth reading...thanks Martin!

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I’m a big fan of saving money! It probably all stems from me being a Yorkshire lad and that’s why I love Quidco cashback! But on reflection it’s more than that; whilst I was brought up not to waste anything, I was also taught to ‘do your research’ by a father obsessed with Which? Magazine (formally known as the Consumers' Association). Now times have changed and since I showed my Dad Quidco several years ago it’s turned into a bit of a competition; who can save the most money.

As we’re now in a new financial year it’s a great time to get a grip on your finances. Stop putting it off and cut those unnecessary expenditures today.

Organisation is the key

Before I go into the details of the Google products I use to help me keep an eye on my finances, I wanted to quickly mention the importance of keeping your spending in order; organisation. Being organised doesn’t need to take excessive amounts of time - a few hours a month is all it takes to save £1000’s each year.

Google products, unlike others on the market, are completely free, meaning there is absolutely no excuse not to start saving money today! If you’re unsure of where to start there are 100’s of household finance templates available in the template gallery for a range of Google products.

Google Spreadsheets (now part of Google Drive)

Arguably the most important of all the Google products when it comes to managing your personal finances is Google Spreadsheets. Start out by creating a simple profit and loss spreadsheet, calculate your total household income and add all your monthly, quarterly and annual bills. If you really want to go into detail then add your groceries, fuel and cash etc. This will help you get a better idea of where you’re wasting money, but it’s not essential to get started.

Martin's top tip - Download your annual bank and credit card statements to make this a bit easier.

Google Calendar

Can’t remember when you last changed your gas and electric? Fear not! Google Calendar to the rescue. As soon as you sign up to a new mobile phone contract, broadband , gas & electric, car insurance, or anything like this, put the end date in your calendar.

Martin's top tip – Verify your mobile phone number with Google and you can set it to send you text message reminders as well as emails.

iGoogle

If you’re like me, or the millions of other bargain hunters on the internet who have signed up to the endless voucher websites then you’ll be getting bombarded with daily emails. Google offer a personalised homepage called iGoogle (which unfortunately looks like it may be superseded by a new product in Autumn this year) but until then you can display all your offers in once place using RSS (really simple syndication) feeds including the latest Quidco cashback offers.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is perfect for monitoring the web for items of specific interest. Last year I needed to find a hotel deal in the Lake District for my cousin's wedding; while I had plenty of time to source a deal, I didn't want to spend everyday checking the internet. The answer was to get Google to do the hard work. After specifying my preferred key words, Google scoured its results for new results matching the criteria before sending an email with all the details. It's so simple and saves so much time.

If you’re looking for a specific phrase such as a hotel in London use quotes to narrow the results: ‘hotel in London’

Martin's top tip – If you want to filter your results to a specific website use the advanced search operator site:domain.com in the search query. (Replacing domain with the URL of the website e.g. site:quidco.com)

Gmail / Google Mail

This may not seem very useful, but Gmail is an extremely powerful email platform which allows you to organise all your finance emails using labels and filters. This enables you to use different colours and labels to segment different types of bill for quick and easy reference (e.g. car = yellow, blue = energy, red = telecoms)

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Martin Woods is a UK based online marketing & SEO consultant in Leeds by day and a self-confessed money saving obsessive by night. If you would like more information about this article please contact Martin on Twitter or via his blog.