How to set up a personal budget spreadsheet

Written by louise balle
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Maintaining a budget helps you organise your finances, control your spending and save toward a goal. But you don't need complicated software to manage your personal budget. All you need is a listing of your income and outgo every month so that you can make decisions about your money. Here is a way that you can accomplish this by budgeting in Excel with a simple spreadsheet.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Your bills
  • Your paystubs

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  1. 1

    Open your Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and double click the first worksheet title (usually called "Sheet1"). Rename the sheet with the month and year that you want to begin your personal budget worksheet.

  2. 2

    List all of your monthly bills including housing payments, utilities, credit card payments and entertainment expenses in the first column (A) of your personal budget worksheet. List the amounts that you pay each month for those bills in column B. Format your column B cells as "Accounting" so that they will have dollar signs and two decimal points. (Right click the cells and press "Format Cells" to change the formatting.)

  3. 3

    On the last line after your bill listing in column A write "Monthly Total." Tab over to column B and type in "=sum(" to start a summation formula (leave out the quotes when you type this into Excel). While that cell is still active, select the first cell in column B (the bill amounts) with your mouse and drag the mouse down to select the entire block of numbers. This should create a "sum" formula adding up all of your bills. Press the closed parentheses sign ")" to finish the formula and hit enter. If you did this correctly, you should have a total of all of your bills listed on your personal budget spreadsheet.

  4. 4

    Estimate your total monthly income after taxes. If you are paid a salary or stipend, with a set amount each month, enter that figure. If you are paid hourly, estimate what you normally make on a monthly basis, but at the end of the month you can enter in the exact figure to make your calculations. Below "Monthly Total" in column A type "Monthly Income" and enter the appropriate figure in column B.

  5. 5

    Underneath "Monthly Income" in column A type "Surplus/Deficit." You will use this line to see what money you have left over at the end of the month to save—or how much more money you need to make to be comfortable. You should have already estimated your entertainment, food and other budget items in your list of bills, so the amount in "Surplus/Deficit" should be money that is completely free for use (or that is needed to break even).

  6. 6

    Tab over to column B next to "Surplus/Deficit" and type the equal sign to start a new formula. Use your mouse to click on the amount next to "Monthly Income." Then press the subtraction sign. Next, while the cell is still active, use your mouse to click on the amount next to "Monthly Total," then press "enter" to complete the formula. You should have an automated calculation of your monthly income minus your monthly bills and obligations.

  7. 7

    Right click the worksheet name (at the bottom of your personal budget spreadsheet) and press "Move or Copy>Create a Copy" to add a new worksheet for budgeting in Excel every month. Just rename each copied sheet to the new month and year.

  8. 8

    Adjust the amounts of your bills and your income as they change. Add new bills to your new personal budget spreadsheet as needed. Everything should update automatically due to your formulas. Use this personal budget spreadsheet to make adjustments to your spending over the course of a month and figure out how much money you can save.

Tips and warnings

  • If you receive investment or interest income every month, be sure to include that in your "Monthly Income" amount as well (after taxes).

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