One of the most popular and affordable ways to create a digital budget is with Microsoft Excel. When you create a budget template in Excel, you can fully customize your budget to track your monthly income and expenses. As the budget process can feel slightly overwhelming at first, this guide will help create your own Excel budget.
There are two different ways to create a budget template in Excel. You can either get started with a template or build your own. You will learn how to do both.
The Easy Way To Create a Budget Template
If you are pressed for time or don’t want to worry about the formulas, you can start budgeting in a few brief moments.
Step 1: Choose a Template
There is a budget template for almost any category. Whether you are a college student, have a family of four, or need a business budget, there is most likely a template for you.
You can get started by simply entering “Budget” into the search field. Or, use a more specific keyword like “college budget” or “monthly budget.”
There are over 100 different templates to choose from that range from a simple line-item budget to templates that will display your information with pie charts and bar graphs.
These additional charting options can make it easy to see how your savings goals match with your spending if you like visual examples.
If you cannot decide on a single template at first, open two or three different templates and test out the features. Try entering income, expenses, and adding additional budget categories to gauge your quality of interaction. In a matter of minutes, you should be able to determine which templates will be a better option.
Step 2: Enter Income and Expense Information
If you have previously tracked your expenses and income on a monthly basis, this task should be relatively quick. All you need to do is transfer the information into the new Excel budget template.
Most templates come with tabs that make it easy to enter the detailed information and automatically update the template’s summary tab.
Looking at the screenshot above, you will enter your monthly income, expenses, and savings into the respective tab. This particular template (Personal budget) makes it easy to enter the due date and amount for every bill. You can also enter the days you get paid or put money into your savings accounts.
If you need to add a budget category or an additional income stream, you can usually begin typing in a row or right-click a row number and click “Insert” to add a new row above.
The DIY Way: Create a Template from Scratch
The second way to create a budget template is to make your own with a blank Excel spreadsheet.
Step 1: Create a New Workbook
The first step is to create a new workbook when you open Microsoft Excel.
Simply click “New Blank Workbook” when you first open Excel.
Beginning with the Column B, you can type in the name of each month. This allows you to track your expenses for an entire year on the same sheet.
Step 2: Enter Income and Expenses
The next step is to enter your income streams and expenses. This can be as detailed or basic as you desire. If you are self-employed and want to track income by the client, each row can record how much you earned from each contractor.
Expenses can be general categories like entertainment, housing, investing, or, you can break it down into mortgage, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, etc. The same thing goes for the other categories like cell phone and internet, or do those get combined in a basic living expenses category?
Step 3: Add Formulas
One advantage of using Excel instead of pencil and paper is that you can add Auto Sum formulas that automatically calculate how much you earn or spend.
Formulas take a few seconds to setup, but, can save a lot of headaches.
To calculate how much you earn (or spend) each month follow these steps:
- Click the box where you want the total of several boxes to appear (Cell B6 in this example)
- Click the Auto Sum button in the top-right portion of the Screen
- Drag the box to expand or reduce the number of cells to include in the auto sum. Or, manually enter the information by replacing the cell numbers in the function bar.
- Enter information into the appropriate cells and watch the AutoSum update your figures.
Do this same exercise for all the other months for the income and expense fields. You can either click the AutoSum button for each month or copy and paste the formula into each new column and update the letters.
Step 4: Compare Income to Expenses
If you want to quickly see if you are spending less than you earn, you can also compare income to expenses with a formula.
You can place this box wherever you wish. For the purposes of this example, it is located beneath the expenses in cell B20.
The formula is really simple: =SUM(B6-B18)
Update the cell numbers to correspond with your spreadsheet to subtract the expenses from your income.
Step 5: Save Your Spreadsheet
Once you have entered all the formulas, it is time to save your budget template.
You can name it 2017 Budget, 2018 Budget, etc.
Saving a blank copy makes it easy to create duplicate budgets for future budget years or to send to a family member or friend that needs a budget template. Or, you can always add additional tabs to easily track your spending year-over-year in the same workbook.
Excel is a great alternative to traditional pen and paper budgeting. By creating your own budget template or entering your own information, you can quickly track your income and spending on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis all in one place. You can keep your template as basic or detailed as you desire.
You can also check out these budgeting apps to help create a budget too.