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How To Create An Excel Budget Template

Excel is undoubtedly one of the best spreadsheet programs available today. Most people prefer using excel because it is user friendly and has numerous functionalities that allow you to do just about anything. Excel has many applications that are not necessarily work related. One of the most popular excel applications is preparing budgets. Many people prepare monthly budgets to track their income and expenditure habits. This is highly recommendable to anyone who wants to manage their finances properly. Excel can help you do exactly that. You can create a good Microsoft excel budget template to help you track your income and expenditures. Creating a budget template in excel is easy.

How to Create a Budget Template in Excel

1. Open a new excel spreadsheet and input expected income

This is the first step towards making a budget template in excel. When you open excel, the first thing you should do is give your spreadsheet a suitable title and input the expected income just below the title. The amount you input should be your total monthly income i.e. if you have a job and a side business, you should add both incomes and input the total. It is important to note that taxes don’t count on budgets because they have already been deducted therefore you should input your net income.

2. Create goals, actual, difference and expenses columns

The next step is creating columns. Your budget template must include a; goals column, actual column, difference column and expense column. The goals and actual columns represent the expected income and actual income respectively. The difference column represents the difference between the expected and actual income. This column can be created automatically using a readily available excel formula (the excel difference formula) so that every time you input amounts in goal and actual columns, the difference column calculates the difference automatically. The values on the difference column should show a negative or positive number which indicates if you got less or more income than you had anticipated that month.

On the expenses column, you need to input all your monthly recurrent expenses. These are expenses you have to incur every month i.e. utility bills, rent, transport, food e.t.c. You should input each and every single recurrent expense you can think of in this column. When inputting expenses in this column, you need to allocate a reasonable amount to unforeseen expenses i.e. emergency medical bills, unforeseen contributions e.t.c.

3. Calculating totals

This is the next step after creating columns and inputting relevant amounts. When calculating totals in excel for your budget template, your focus should be on the expenses and actual columns. This is because those are the columns that give you a true picture of your actual income and expenses. Inputting a sum total formula in excel is simple. You just need to select each column from top to bottom and then click on the auto sum button at the top of your spreadsheet to get column totals for actual and expenses columns.

4. Fine tuning your budget template

This is the last step to consider when creating a budget template in excel. Your goal once you have your totals is to make sure that the actual expenses don’t exceed the actual income. You should balance your budget template in such a way that expenses take up at most 80% of your total monthly income. The remaining 20% should be treated as savings.

Your final budget template should account for every single dollar. You final template should also be simple and easy to understand. You should consider using excel tools i.e. colours to represent certain columns. For instance, you can make the expenses column be red and the income column blue. This way you won’t struggle or waste time looking for columns and their totals. You can also use bold, italic features when naming columns to make them easily recognizable. Your resulting excel budget template should be simple, attractive to the eye and easy to follow.


In summary, the above steps should help you come up with a good budget template in excel. It is however important to note that creating a simple budget template is just the first step towards successful budgeting and good financial management. You have to update your budget template regularly. For instance, you should consider dedicating a few minutes daily to update your template because expenses are incurred daily. You should also follow your budget religiously if you want to reap the benefits of budgeting. In case you still have problems using excel formulas required above, you can always use the excel help tool at the top right of your spread sheet.

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