Forget budgeting or project management–people are taking Excel, Google Sheets, and other spreadsheet software to a whole new level. We’re talking marriage proposals, college degree hacking, and more. While you couldn’t catch us using spreadsheets either personally or professionally, we do love a good spreadsheet story, especially if it’s a major fail.
Fine, we’ll admit that we slightly enjoy hearing about crazy spreadsheet victories, but that doesn’t change our overall stance on spreadsheets. And despite a few funny success stories, we have no doubt they still get in the way of your projects.
So whether you’re looking to learn from major mistakes, get in a good laugh, or searching for stories that prove using spreadsheets can lead to some form of success, today’s blog post is for you. Without further adieu, let’s take a look at 5 crazy ways people are using spreadsheets.
An Excel Spreadsheet Proposal
When you think of a dream marriage proposal, we’re pretty sure you’re not imagining a giant spreadsheet – but Zikri Kamarulzaman apparently thought otherwise.
According to TRP, Zikri presented his now-wife with an extensive Excel spreadsheet, divided into three sheets that detailed their joint budget and individual incomes, instead of getting on one knee.
Zikri posted his reasoning behind the proposal in a Twitter thread, explaining that his intent was to prove their financial stability as a couple and show their ability to afford a wedding. He also wanted to drill home the importance of practicing financial transparency before beginning a life with someone.
Yeah, we’re not going to encourage you to use Kintone to propose (though it has been used to find love!). However, we can definitely provide you with a better, more integrated way to keep track of budgeting and finances.
Hacking Your Bachelor’s Degree via Spreadsheets
College tuition is at an all-time high, and it’s creating a bit of skepticism around the value of a college degree. According to a recent survey, 70% of 18-34-year-olds who don’t have college degrees, and 49% who do, believe college is a “questionable investment”. Well, a recent graduate’s skepticism and spreadsheet skills may have just saved her tens of thousands of dollars in tuition costs.
By creating a detailed spreadsheet that mapped out her degree plan and budget, Kara Prado graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business for just $8,500. All it took was piecing together information from online forums, finding flexible options for college credit, and putting it all together in Excel.
This is a spreadsheet success we can get behind.
Using Excel to Nickel & Dime Your Ex
We’ve already written about why it’s time to break up with Excel, but we haven’t written about Excel causing a breakup… until now.
In her viral TikTok video, a content creator shared how her boyfriend of 3 years would keep a monthly spreadsheet of everything she owed him for the month, which sounds semi-reasonable for certain expenses, right? Well, when she said he kept track of everything, she meant everything. Beyond typically shared expenses such as rent and utilities, he would add even the smallest of things to the spreadsheet, including “$3 for a banana and a piece of toast”.
Photo credit: maddyblythe
Needless to say, the boyfriend is now an ex.
Raising & Losing Billions Because of a Sloppy Spreadsheet
It’s one thing to lose a girlfriend over a manic spreadsheet obsession, and a whole other to lose billions of dollars. A recent Fortune article detailed how messy Excel spreadsheets contributed to the downfall of crypto exchange FTX along with its CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF).
Funny enough, SBF actually raised 1.8 billion dollars in funding using the exact same spreadsheet that caused the destruction of FTX. Instead of sending interested investors pitch decks, legal documents, or audited financials, SBF would send over his homemade Excel spreadsheet with his own calculations and financials. Somehow, seasoned investors believed the numbers and bought into it.
Photo credit: polarbear314159
Turns out those numbers were too good to be true as “human error” and mislabeled data drastically skewed the data in SBF’s spreadsheets. Because these shady spreadsheets could be so easily manipulated, and because there was no board of directors or auditors to oversee the accuracy of this data, FTX was able to swindle 8 billion dollars in customer money.
Seems like a customizable database could have done SBF some good, and possibly saved him some jail time.
Leaving Legal Case Data in One Massive Spreadsheet
Don’t worry – this last story has a happy ending, and maybe that’s because it ends with a Kintone win.
Jessica Lee is a staff attorney at the Center for WorkLife Law, a small legal clinic that works out of the University of California Hastings’ College of Law. The company’s legal counseling team takes in work from all across the nation regarding worker discrimination suits. At the time, they were storing all their case data on a single Excel spreadsheet.
“I would stay up at night worrying about [that] stinking Excel spreadsheet,” said Jessica. “We were losing so many opportunities to analyze the research we’ve done and spread the word on what we’re doing because we were wasting time using outdated technology.”
Not only that, their process for handling cases was ridiculously complex: somebody would call in and leave a voicemail or email, which would get recorded by a team member. That team member would then need to consult an attorney, and depending on what was said, the attorney would either need to consult other attorneys or reach out to the caller to deal with their work management. “The process…[included] many people and almost always [had] a back and forth.”
However, after switching to Kintone, the UC Hastings Center for WorkLife Law team was able to stay organized and accountable while seizing the opportunities they missed when using spreadsheets. According to Jessica, using spreadsheets they “would not have been able to serve the folks who needed us, and there would have been others who called and just got lost in the shuffle… anyone who knows how to use Kintone can go in quickly and see how we’re doing without needing to crunch a bunch of numbers or scroll through volumes of notes”.
Are your spreadsheets driving you crazy?
If you’re using spreadsheets, you could be one fail away from being featured in an article just like this one. Our advice? Start looking for an alternative.
Unlike spreadsheets, Kintone offers a cloud-based platform with customizable databases the whole team can access, update, and report from in real time. You can track any and all changes to your databases, making it easy to know who changed what and when. Plus, when you find errors, restoring your database to an older version is as simple as clicking a button.
Best of all–Kintone’s databases come with built-in collaboration tools, meaning your team doesn’t need to rely on internal email chains to talk about the data on hand.
If that sounds like a plan, try swapping your spreadsheets for Kintone today – you can even upload your spreadsheets and migrate them directly into our platform!
About the Author
Michaela is a part-time freelance writer passionate about writing creative copy and content. She graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, minor in Creative Advertising, and has spent time working for start-up companies, agencies, and large enterprises in the marketing and brand strategy spaces. Outside of the office, she’s an avid foodie and traveler living in Chicago, Illinois.