Alright, I know that I owe you part 2 to the how to start a business series. I am far more excited than I have any right to be about what I just learned about google sheets and google finance.  If you don’t know what google sheets is, its part of google drive, which is a cloud based storage service.  (Perhaps you’ve heard it called google docs?)  If you’ve never heard of, nor used this, just get a gmail account and start messing with it.  I do a great deal of collaboration via Google drive and I’m a big fan.  If you’ve never used Sheets before it is Google’s answer to Microsoft Excel.  (If you don’t know what Microsoft Excel is, I don’t even know what to say.  I’m not even sure whether you’re too young or too old.  I guess there’s an explanation available here.)  Google finance is a service that gives information about stocks.  Being able to combine the two is fun only if you’re a gigantic nerd that spends his/her time data crunching his/her investments.  Maybe you wouldn’t like it if you hate money, I don’t know.

Get to the point

Google Finance Example

Look ma, I can cut and paste!

The tool basically acts like a function.  You type in “=GOOGLEFINANCE”, then put some parameters in parentheses and you’ve done it.  The first parameter needs to be a ticker, and the second parameter tells the function what information you want about the ticker.   For example, lets say I want some information about Exxon Mobil.  Exxon Mobil’s ticker is XOM.  The information I want is the current price.  I would go into google sheets and type:

=GOOGLEFINANCE(“XOM”, “price”)

and that’s it.   After pressing enter the spreadsheet will update with the price.  Currently the different attributes you can get about stocks is quite limited.  Mostly this might be useful for investors who invest on the basis of technical analysis.  If you’re really a wizard at this you may be able to use it to give yourself automated buy/sell recommendations.  (I say wizard in part because we all know technical analysis is make believe.)

But I suck at spreadsheets

MergerSpreadsheetWell fear not!  I whipped one up recently that I thought was useful.  Linked is a copy of a spreadsheet I use to track different mergers and the possible profit which can be made by buying into the merger.  Don’t edit the greyed out columns.  The white columns need to be filled in by you for future mergers.  This is an example, not a recommendation. If you buy any of the stocks listed on this spreadsheet, you’ll probably lose all of your money, your spouse will leave you, and you’ll inadvertently start the apocalypse.  Let me say it again by paraphrasing Penny Arcade**:

If you buy any of these stocks because they are listed on this spreadsheet – I will kill myself*. And when my tainted spirit finds its destination, I will topple the master of that dark place.  From my black throne, I will lash together a machine of bone and blood, and fueled by your hubris this engine will bore a hole between this world and that one.  When it begins you will hear the sound of money burning – as though from a great distance.  A smoking orb of nothing will grow above your bank, and from it will emerge a thousand starving crows.  As I slip through the widening maw in my new form, you will catch only a glimpse of my radiance before you are incinerated.  Then, as tears of bubbling pitch stream down my face, my dark work will begin. I will open one of my six mouths, and I will sing the song that ends the Earth.

*No.  I’m not actually going to do that.

**Maybe if I read fewer webcomics and worked more I’d be a multi-thousandaire instead of a regular thousandaire