How to make a budget in Excel

april 30, 2024

Keeping up with your expenses doesn't have to be a tedious task. My favorite hack is using a free Microsoft Excel personal budget template, and I'll show you step-by-step how to customize a budget template to make tracking your income and expenses a whole lot easier.

Step 1: Download the Excel budget template

The first thing you need to do is to download the budget template. I like this free personal budget template from Microsoft Excel. You can find this one and a myriad of other free budget templates on Microsoft Create. Now, let me show you how to enter your income and expenses into the budget template.

Step 2: Enter your income in your budget template

To enter your income, go to the "Income" sheet. Here, you'll see a table with several categories, such as "Salary," "Freelance Income," and so on. Simply enter the appropriate amount for each category, and add any new income sources you may have below. For example, let's say you have a freelance project that earned you $500: you can add it to the appropriate category or create a new one.

Step 3: Enter your expenses in your budget template

To enter your expenses in your Excel budgeting template, go to the "Expenses" sheet. Here, you'll see a table with categories such as "Rent/Mortgage," "Utilities," "Food," and so on. Again, just enter the appropriate amount for each category and add new expenses as needed. For example, let's say your daycare expenses are $800. You can enter it right below here.

Step 4: Add extra columns to your budget template

Let's add a budget column so that we can compare our actual expenses to our budget. Let’s name column D "Budget" and enter your budget amounts for each category. Once you've added the budget column, you can calculate the difference between your actual expenses and your budget. To do this, let’s name column C "Difference." Then, subtract the amount you spent from the budgeted amount and autofill it down. Using this Excel budgeting template will give you a clear idea of how much you overspent or underspent in each category.

Pro tip

Interested in budgeting? Check out the articles Simplify your monthly budget with Excel and Plan for retirement using a FIRE estimator.

Viewing your Excel budget template

To make it even easier to see your Excel budget, you can use conditional formatting to highlight the cells with positive or negative differences. Select the cells in column C and go to the Conditional Formatting menu. Choose Icon Sets, and then select the icon set that you like best. The icons will change based on the values in the cells. This will help you identify which expenses were higher or lower than planned.

To view the summary sheet in your budget template, just click on the "Summary" tab. Here you'll see a breakdown of your total income, total expenses, and total savings for the month. The donut chart shows you the percentage of income spent. This information can help you make better financial decisions and stay on track with your budgeting goals.

That's it! Now you know how to use my favorite Excel template for budgeting - take charge of your finances today.

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