How to use a Spreadsheet to Set a Budget

Spreadsheets can make for ideal software to set up a budget. While there are a variety of spreadsheet software, which have variable options and features, their basic options are very similar. As such, setting up a budget spreadsheet in Excel, or an alternative spreadsheet software package, is very much the same.

To begin with you need to be clear on the layout of the budget. Budget templates can be slightly variable, and some are more detailed than others. For a simple budget, your spreadsheet will need to have at least one monthly expense column, then another column for the various expense categories. Ideally, you may consider including a few more months for the budget. In addition to this, you should include a good number of rows for the budget spreadsheet, more than you expect you will need.

The various columns, and the budget spreadsheet, need to be titled appropriately. To do this, you need to select the appropriate cell and then enter the text. Then, you should start to enter some expense categories for that column. At the bottom of the spreadsheet expense category column, you then need to include a total heading.  So, your budget spreadsheet will be more like this:

Expense category, Jan, Feb, March, April 





It is likely that the spreadsheet software will include some formatting options for your budget spreadsheet. While the options can vary slightly, usually you right click on the cells to be formatted then select format. This brings up suitable formatting options. Alternatively, a format menu will likely be included on the menu bar. Consider adding some clear borders to the budget, and then also perhaps some color to the cells. Spreadsheet software also includes a few number formats, so select the financial number format if it is available.

Hereafter, you then need to add the functions, which are really just the budget sums. For a simple budget, you will need to include only the SUM function to add all the figures together for each column. This should be included at the bottom of all the monthly columns. To add the SUM function, firstly you select the cell that will include the result, and then in most spreadsheets you will need to select the option from a function toolbar at the top of the spreadsheet. They include a function wizard which if you click on brings up a range of functions. Then, just select the SUM function, and the range of cells to be added. When you have done this, enter some dummy data to check the sum is accurate.

With this, you have a very simple budget spreadsheet that will add expenses for the month. This can then be either used for forecasting or for recording. At any rate, the budget can likely be enhanced with the spreadsheet graphing options, or you can include further functions, comments, or formatting such as conditional formatting if required.