How to create a budget spreadsheet

Using spreadsheets to help you plan your budget can be useful because it can help with complex calculations and you can see at a glance incomings and outgoings. It also means that any changes to figures can be automatically updated in calculations by the spreadsheet so that it does all the hard work.

Using a budget in this way can be used for many different things such as preparing for Christmas. 
This guide shows you how to create a budget spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel. 
You’ll need:
  • A computer with Excel installed 

Follow these step-by-step instructions to create a budget spreadsheet using Excel

Step 1: Open up Excel so that you have a blank spreadsheet. 

Step 2: The spreadsheet needs to have information put in it, to calculate the figures for your budget. For a simple budget, we need to put in figures for ‘income’ and ‘expenditure’ (outgoings). Excel will total up the income and expenditure for you.
Step 3: Put in the months over which you want to budget to run. Type each month in an individual cell along one row of the spreadsheet.
Budget spreadsheet months
Step 4: Then, put in a heading for your income and then below this any sub-headings for the type of income you receive, for example salary, pension, benefits.
Budget spreadsheet headings
Step 5: Now we need to add your expenditure. In the same column that you have typed your income types, you need to add types of expenditure such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, shopping, leisure, TV licence, savings and so on. 
Budget spreadsheet expenditure
Step 6: Once you have these headings in your spreadsheet, you can start to put in the calculations so that when you put in figures at a later date, Excel will calculate any totals automatically.
Step 7: Click on the cell where you want the total to be.
Budget spreadsheet total
Step 8: Then, click Autosum in the menu ribbon. 
Step 9: Click and drag on the cells that you wish to be included in this total, so that the cells are highlighted. Click Enter.
Budget spreadsheet total formula
Step 10: Once you have the formula in the first cell, you can now copy that cell and paste it into all the other cells that require the same formula. 
Step 11: Now you need to do a total for outgoings, repeat the steps above under your 'Expenditure' section.
Step 12: You may also want to know the difference between your income and your outgoings. To calculate this figure, click on the cell where you want this total – the surplus – to be shown. Then, click Autosum and click on the first figure you want to include in your calculation, in this case it’s the income Total. Now press the minus  (-) key on your keyboard. Now press the Ctrl key on the keyboard and whilst holding it down, choose the second number you wish to include. In this case, the expenditure 'Total'. Click Enter to complete the calculation.
Spreadsheet AutoSum function
Step 13: Again, copy this calculation along the whole row.
Step 14: Now, you need to add in figures for your specific income and expenditure, and Excel will calculate the totals. You may also wish to use formatting functions like bold or italic to make your budget spreadsheet clearer and more attractive.
Spreadsheet formatting
Alternatively, watch our screencast for instructions (click on the [ ] icon on the bottom left to make video full screen):


Karen Maxwell is a Digital Unite tutor and assessor/trainer of computer accessibility. Edited November 2015

Got a question?

Got a question?
Click here to ask our online community and tutors.


Anita Watson's picture

By Anita Watson on 1st March 2013

I have decided to keep a record of all our income and expenditure for the forthcoming years... I have started to compile a spreadsheet that will show the exact figures you have indicated in your example.. As a novice and it takes awhile for information to sit in my brain... thank you I hope this works for me. the only question is I want to include my husband's income and expenditure how would I implement this.
DU Community Manager's picture

By DU Community Manager on 2nd March 2013

Dear Anita, that's great news, it can be a very useful document! To incorporate your husband's income/expenditure you would simply add these amounts in the same way as your details. Good luck!
Jukeys's picture

By Jukeys on 15th May 2014

This is amazing! Thank you so much for teaching me how to create a budget spreadsheet. It was really easy to understand and follow your instructions (I used the written ones) and my spreadsheet looks great and works perfectly. Thanks so much. I will be sharing this guide with others.
DU Community Manager's picture

By DU Community Manager on 15th May 2014

Thanks so much for your feedback, Jukeys, that's great! Glad you found it helpful.
brownh4589's picture

By brownh4589 on 7th September 2014

I haven't used a spread sheet In years, but the information was and will continue to be a useful tool.
Essieallans's picture

By Essieallans on 1st March 2015

this has made my monthly budgeting an easy task.!!! now i want to make a wedding budget using excell. how do i go about it?
DU Community Manager's picture

By DU Community Manager on 2nd March 2015

Hi Essie, The principles are exactly the same so you'd just need to change the column names to reflect your exciting big day :)
hunterbunter's picture

By hunterbunter on 19th March 2015

I downloaded my bank statement as a .csv file and would like to somehow "code" each line item from that into the categories for the budget like you show how to make above. So that the totals for each category calculate automatically from the .csv fie. Is this possible to do and how would I even do it? I have a basic understanding of Excel but am a fast learner