Step-By-Step Guide to Making a Basic Budget in Excel

Step by step guide to make a budget using Excel

If you want to just download a budget, do it now. If you actually want to learn how to set up the excel spreadsheet, you came to the right place.

We will go over Income, Expenses, and Payments. I’ll explain how to set up columns, rows, and basic math equations in Excel. Get this – Excel does math for you so that all you have to do is insert your budget numbers.

Step-By-Step Guide to Making a Basic Budget with Excel

Here’s what your basic budget will look like:


As you can see, we have your income, expenses, and the running tally for the month. This is going to help you look at your monthly spending on an easy-to-read sheet. We will go step by step to set up your budget.

This is only for you, so feel free to name items and set things up differently. Let’s open up a fresh Excel spreadsheet and start off with your income.

Step 1: Income

Income Portion of Budget on an Excel Spreadsheet

In column A, we have Income as the title. Under here, you will list the name of the income for your household. It can be yours, your spouses, or a side job. Maybe you work for Time Warner Cable, 24 Hour Fitness, or Uber. Put down the jobs that you get income from.

In column B, you will put the corresponding ESTIMATED income for each job title. Don’t worry if your numbers don’t match up with mine. This was just my quick set-up and incomes vary at different parts of our lives. Write down your estimate of what you will receive for the upcoming month.

Column C will be reserved for your actual income. As your paydays come, you will input the income. So if the first Friday comes and you get $600 from Uber, you would put 600 in C3 – under the Received Column and lined up with Job 1.

Adding Cells

To add the estimated income (as seen in B5), type “=sum(” and the corresponding cells. In this case, “=sum(B3:B4)” or after typing “=sum(” just drag your mouse over the incomes you want to add. You will do the same under the received income column, so that as you input the numbers, it will automatically add up.

Dollar Signs

If you want your numbers to show with dollar signs, click on the cell. Click the “$” button in the Numbers Section under the Home Tab and a dollar sign will appear.

OR under the drop down, choose “Currency.” A dollar sign will pop up and it will add two decimal points for the change. To get rid of the decimals, you can click the “Decrease Decimal” button.

Changing Cells to Currency Numbers in Excel Spreadsheet


And bam – your income is ready to go!

Step 2: Estimated Expenses

Estimated Expense Portion on an Excel Spreadsheet

Next, let’s get those expenses written. Under an Expense column, write down all of your expenses for the month. Try to think of everything you can. Maybe even go through last month’s bank statements to get it all down.

Obviously, things will differ. Instead of rent, you may have mortgage. Maybe you don’t tithe, so you won’t have that expense. You may stay out of credit card debt. It’s totally normal. Just get it all down.

Other bills may include: renters or home insurance, HOA, additional utility bills (water), internet and cable bills, loans from school, donations you make every month. Try to be as exhaustive in the list as you can.

Then, write corresponding amounts on the right.

Tip: Try to remember all biyearly or even yearly bills to apply it to your budget. For example: if you pay your car insurance twice a year, at $510 each time, you will divide the $510 by 6 months (since you pay it every 6 months) and you get your total. In this case, $85 a month will go towards saving for your car insurance each month. Trust me, this will be easier than paying (and budgeting) the full lump sum of $510 when that time rolls around.

Near the bottom, you will see the total bills amount. To get all of the expenses to add up in the example shown, you would enter the following into the square where you want the total: “=SUM(B8:B18)” or you could also write “=sum(” and then drag your mouse over the rows that you want added up.

Your spreadsheet may look a little different than mine. Instead of B8, your bill amounts may have started on the 2nd column and 4th row, so you would enter “B4” in place of “B7.” If you have less or fewer bills, you would enter the last corresponding row. If you ended on line 20, input “B20” in place of “B18.”

You want your estimated expenses (total bills) to be less than or equal to your estimated income. To run a check of what is left over (or not), you will subtract the total bills from the income. In my example, I did this by typing “=B5-B19” in the box I wanted the leftover total. B5 was my total estimated income and then I subtracted B19 which was my total estimated bills.

If your budget shows that you will spend more than you will make, don’t worry. We will fix this at the end.

Now both your income and estimated expenses portion are set up.

Step 3: Expense Totals

The remaining part of your basic budget will be to keep track of your expenses as you spend after each paycheck.

Actual Expense Portion of Budget on an Excel Spreadsheet

In column C, you will have your Totals which will be the sum of all expenses throughout the weeks. Basically, when you get paid week 1, you will choose how to spend that paycheck between each of the expenses you have.

In C9, there is the tithing total. To add up the money that you divide up throughout the month for tithing, again input “=sum(” and either input “D8:G8)” or drag your mouse over the corresponding cells. You can repeat for each bill across the row, or copy and paste the equation by:

  • right clicking on a cell and pressing copy. Then right click in another cell and press paste
  • or (ADVANCED): click on a cell, on your keyboard hold both “Ctrl” button and the letter “C”at the same time, then click the cell you want to paste in and on your keyboard hold both “Ctrl” button and the letter “V” at the same time

You will also want to add up the weekly totals by making a sum of the rows. For my example, I would either input “=sum(D8:D18)” to add up week 1 or input “=sum(” and click the mouse in D8 and drag down to D18.

Instead of doing the Actual Expenses week by week, you can also customize and do it paycheck 1, paycheck 2, etc.

So, now your actual expense totals are added up by Expense category and week by week. Your entire basic Excel budget is completely set up and ready to go.

What’s Next

Now that you set up your budget all by yourself, learn how to budget throughout the month.

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