Excel Tutorial: How To Build A Budget In Excel


Creating and maintaining a budget is an essential part of managing personal or business finances. It helps to track expenses, plan for future spending, and ultimately achieve financial goals. With the advanced features and functionalities it offers, Excel is an excellent tool for building a budget. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the process of creating a budget in Excel, so you can take control of your finances and make informed financial decisions.

Key Takeaways

  • Budgeting is crucial for managing personal or business finances
  • Excel offers advanced features for creating and maintaining budgets
  • Organize income and expenses in separate tabs for clarity
  • Use formulas to calculate total income, expenses, and surplus/deficit
  • Visual representations and tracking help in making informed financial decisions

Setting up the Excel sheet

When it comes to building a budget in Excel, the first step is to set up the Excel sheet. This involves creating a new workbook and renaming the tabs to organize your budgeting information effectively.

A. Creating a new workbook
  • Open Microsoft Excel on your computer.
  • Create a new workbook by clicking on the "File" tab and selecting "New".
  • Alternatively, you can use the shortcut by pressing "Ctrl + N" on your keyboard.

B. Renaming the tabs
  • By default, Excel provides three default tabs named "Sheet1", "Sheet2", and "Sheet3". To create an organized budget, it is essential to rename these tabs.
  • To rename a tab, simply right-click on the tab and select "Rename".
  • Choose descriptive names for your tabs such as "Income", "Expenses", "Savings", etc. to reflect the content of each sheet.

Organizing income and expenses

When building a budget in Excel, it is important to start by organizing your income and expenses. By clearly laying out all of your financial transactions, you can gain a better understanding of your overall financial health and make more informed decisions about your money. Here’s how to get started:

A. Inputting monthly income sources

  • Begin by creating a new Excel spreadsheet and labeling the first column “Income Sources.”
  • List out all of your sources of income for the month, including your salary, any freelance work, child support, or other regular payments.
  • Enter the total amount for each income source next to its respective label.

B. Listing out monthly expenses

  • Next, create a new column and label it “Monthly Expenses.”
  • List out all of your monthly expenses, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, transportation, insurance, and any other regular payments you make.
  • Enter the total amount for each expense next to its respective label.

Using formulas for calculations

One of the key features of Excel is its ability to perform complex calculations with ease. When building a budget in Excel, you can use a variety of formulas to quickly and accurately calculate your total income, total expenses, and the resulting surplus or deficit.

A. Summing up total income

When creating a budget, it’s important to start by calculating your total income. To do this, you can use the SUM formula to add up all of your sources of income, such as wages, rental income, or any other form of revenue. Simply input the formula in the designated cell or cells, and Excel will automatically calculate the total for you.

B. Calculating total expenses

Next, you’ll want to calculate your total expenses. This can be done using the SUM formula as well, but this time you’ll be adding up all of your expenses, such as rent, utilities, groceries, and any other regular or irregular costs. Input the formula in the appropriate cells, and Excel will do the heavy lifting for you.

C. Subtracting expenses from income to find the surplus or deficit

Once you have your total income and total expenses calculated, you can use the subtraction formula to find out whether you have a surplus or a deficit. Simply subtract your total expenses from your total income using the SUM and SUBTRACT formulas, and Excel will show you the resulting figure.

Creating visual representations

When building a budget in Excel, it is important to include visual representations of your financial data to easily track income and expenses. There are a few key techniques you can use to create visual representations in your budget.

  • Using charts to display income versus expenses
  • One effective way to visualize your budget data is by creating charts to display the comparison between your income and expenses. You can use the chart feature in Excel to create pie charts, bar graphs, or line charts to clearly illustrate the breakdown of your financials. This allows for a quick and easy understanding of where your money is coming from and where it is going.

  • Adding conditional formatting for visual cues
  • Conditional formatting is a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to apply formatting to cells based on certain conditions. You can use this feature to visually highlight important data points in your budget, such as expenses that exceed a certain threshold or income that falls below a specific target. By applying conditional formatting, you can quickly identify areas of concern and make informed financial decisions.

Tracking and adjusting the budget

Building a budget in Excel is just the first step in managing your finances effectively. In order to stay on top of your financial goals, it's essential to continuously track your income and expenses and make adjustments as needed.

A. Inputting actual income and expenses as the month progresses
  • As the month progresses, it's important to input the actual amounts of your income and expenses into your budget spreadsheet. This will give you a real-time view of your financial situation and allow you to make informed decisions about your spending.
  • Be sure to categorize your expenses accurately so that you can see which areas of your budget may need adjusting. This may include categories such as groceries, utilities, transportation, and entertainment.
  • Keeping track of your actual income and expenses will also help you identify any discrepancies between your projected budget and the reality of your financial situation.

B. Comparing actual versus projected budget
  • Once you have inputted your actual income and expenses, it's crucial to compare them to your projected budget. This will give you insights into whether you are staying within your budget or if there are areas where you may be overspending.
  • Look for any significant differences between your projected and actual amounts. For example, if you budgeted $400 for groceries but ended up spending $500, it may be time to reevaluate your grocery budget for the next month.
  • By regularly comparing your actual versus projected budget, you can make proactive decisions to adjust your spending habits and stay on track with your financial goals.


In summary, building a budget in Excel is a valuable skill that can help individuals and businesses effectively manage their finances. With the ability to create customizable templates, analyze data, and track expenses, Excel offers a powerful tool for budgeting and financial planning.

We encourage you to practice and explore more budgeting techniques in Excel. Whether it's learning how to use advanced formulas or creating interactive graphs, the more you familiarize yourself with Excel's capabilities, the better equipped you will be to organize and control your financial resources.

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