How to Set Up a Budget on Excel

By Katelyn Kelley

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet, graphing and database product included in the Microsoft Office suite. The spreadsheet component is useful for setting up a budget. The row and column format is perfect for creating budget line items and listing figures. Excel's business calculation tools allow you to add and subtract your budget figures to see where your finances stand quickly. Special number formatting available in Excel allows you to see if your budget's bottom line is in the red or in the black.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Excel
  • List of your income and expenses

Set Up Income and Expense Columns

Step 1

Open the Excel application to a blank spreadsheet.

Step 2

Click cell "A1" and enter a title for your budget. Type something like "Monthly Budget" and maybe a "Last Updated on..." reference to help you quickly see when you last made changes.

Step 3

Click into cell "A3" and enter "Item."

Step 4

Click into cell "B3" and enter "Income."

Step 5

Click into cell "C3" and enter "Expenses."

Add Budget Line Items and Dollar Amounts

Step 1

Click into cell "A4." Start listing your income and expenses, one in each row down the page. Start with your income first. You can double-click the vertical line between Column A and Column B headings at the top of the screen to expand Column A to the width of your characters and avoid cutting off information.

Step 2

Decide how you want to work with the budget before you enter any numbers. Will it be weekly or monthly? Make sure all the numbers you enter are from the same time period. All weekly income/expenses, or all monthly income/expenses. Don't mix and match or your budget will not be correct.

Step 3

Type income amounts into the B column and expense amounts into the C column.

Step 4

Select the columns with numbers and use the "Decimal .0 -> .00" button on the toolbar to adjust the format if it's not displaying two decimal places. You can also click the "$" button to format the numbers as money if you want to see the "$" in every cell.

Total Income and Expenses and Compare

Step 1

Click in a cell in Column B that is a few rows below your last budget line item.

Step 2

Enter the formula "=SUM(" and then click and drag from the "B4" cell down to the last cell in Column B that has a budget item listed.

Step 3

Type a closing parenthesis ") and press "Enter/Return" to complete the calculation. This will show you your total income for the time period you decided on (weekly or monthly).

Step 4

Click into the cell in Column C next to your income total and repeat the formula to total all the rows in Column C. These are your total expenses.

Step 5

Move over to the next cell in Column D and enter the "=" sign. Click the total income cell once. Type a "-" sign, then click the total expenses cell once and press "Enter/Return." This shows how much income you have left after expenses. If it's a negative number, Excel automatically formats it red.

Step 6

Review your budget line items if the ending figure is not to your liking, and see where you can make changes in your income or expenses to adjust that figure.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want to add another item between your existing budget line items, go to Insert > Row. Excel will update the formulas automatically at the bottoms of the columns to account for the extra row.
  • Under Excel's New Document option, you will find templates that can also help you manage your finances.