Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How To: Budget In Excel

When I got my job and an apartment, I knew it was time for me to figure out how to budget.  There are lots of printable worksheets available online, but most of them weren’t quite right for me.  I needed something easily changeable, and since I don’t have expenses like car insurance, there are many categories on typical budget worksheets that I just don’t need.  Excel is easy to use and does the math for you!  One thing I really love about this system is that as soon as I add an expense or paycheck, Excel automatically updates the new total without any hassle.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Open an Excel spreadsheet.  Label each category as follows:
    • Date
    • Credit
    • Debit
    • Total
    • Notes

  1. The first entry is “Beg Bal,” meaning the beginning balance of all your checking accounts only.  I also put the same value into the “Total” field for easier math purposes.
    • NOTE: I copied the format of my actual budget and changed all of the numbers (expenses and paychecks), because I’m not comfortable displaying information about my real finances on the internet.

  1. In each category, put the date, a value into either credit (money coming in, i.e. paycheck) or debit (a purchase), and a notation of what the transaction was.  I’ll get to the “total” part next :-)  If the transaction was taking money out, make sure to put a minus sign before the value to make sure the total gets calculated correctly!

  1. For the “Total,” type     =D3+B3+C3     into cell D4.  This adds the beginning balance and the credit or debit amount and spits out the new total balance!

(“PP10” means “Pay Period 10,” FYI)

  1. I estimate my future expenses and income based on current and past values, but as soon as I can use the actual value, I put it in so I don’t lose track of how much I’ve actually spent.
  2. And that’s it!  When I’m estimating expenses, I sometimes add an extra $5-10 onto the cost I think it will be, so I have a little wiggle room and won’t overdraft my account!  Likewise, I enter roughly $10-20 less than I expect for income, so that if more tax gets taken out than I anticipate, I’m not surprised.  If I get more than I had originally thought, it’s like a little gift!

Here’s a screenshot of my budget in its early stages :-)

*The only problem I have with this system is that it doesn’t tell me which accounts have the money I need.  I just have to check my balances to make sure the money gets taken out of the correct account(s).  More on my money transferring system is coming in another post!*

While not on this particular budget snapshot, I also have money going towards my savings, which I count as an “expense,” because I won’t be using that money to buy anything.  I have money transferred out of my checking into my savings on an automated system every time I get paid, so I don’t have to think about it :-)

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