I am a spreadsheet budgeter

by Rocket Finance

I first started tracking our family budget in 2005. Some of you will remember that our budget deficit that year was in the neighborhood of $25,000. I had taken a class in Microsoft Excel and decided to start plugging our numbers into a spreadsheet and see what happened. I continue to use a spreadsheet for our budget to this day. I am a tinkerer and MS Excel lends itself to tinkering.

Some features include:

  1. Color coding – Each major category is shaded in a different color and after I finish a particular category for the month, I shade it gray. This also helps me keep track of paid and unpaid bills.
  2. Simplified categories – My categories are the following:
    • Income
    • Giving
    • Saving
    • Taxes
    • Debt
    • Insurance
    • Living Expenses (rent, utilities, etc.)
  3. The big picture – I “pre-fill” my budget for the year – all our estimated income and expenses are filled in at the beginning of the year.
  4. Every penny affects the bottom line. I have added formulas that indicate the following at the top of the spreadsheet:
    • Total Yearly Income
    • Total Yearly Expenses
    • Average Monthly Income
    • Average Monthly Expenses
    • Average Monthly Surplus (Deficit)
    • Total Yearly Surplus (Deficit)
    • Total Cash on Hand
    • Total Yearly Net Cash
  5. Mrs. Rocket has her own page that is hyperlinked to the main budget. She fills in the categories for which she is responsible and the changes affect the total budget.
  6. Every category is totaled on the right hand side of the budget. I can see what we spent on each expense category – or what we are projected to spend throughout the year.
  7. At the bottom of the spreadsheet, a cell is designated to show how much we are behind or ahead of budget each month. This number can vary by thousands of dollars based on our fluctuating income and expenses.

I enjoy my spreadsheets – they are almost fun. However, Glbl guy’s post from a few weeks ago has almost convinced me to use something different. He strongly recommends YNAB or You Need A Budget. If you aren’t comfortable with Excel spreadsheets, maybe YNAB is the answer for you.

I might even switch to it later this year and let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, if you would like to try one of my Excel budgets, contact me and I will send you one and even customize it a little to fit your needs.

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