If you’re a little behind the times, tackling your budgeting and finances through online sites, tools, and apps, might be a little intimidating.
There are some great sources out there like Quicken, You Need a Budget, Mint.com, etc., but if you aren’t ready to trust your finances with your budding computer skills, there is an alternate way to get started: Microsoft Excel.
The Beauty of the Basics
If you think it’s time to move from paper to electronic budgeting, Excel could be a great transitional tool for you. If you aren’t familiar with Excel, it is Microsoft’s spreadsheet program. It is perfect for budgeting, because it can be used to do math, formulas, tables, charts, and graphs, all tailored to your personal needs and preferences.
The great thing about excel is that it is a step up from paper to electric, but is still very simple, clean, and clear. It’s almost like having your old paper checkbook, except it does the math for you.
But perhaps most importantly, you won’t risk messing up real money like you might on an online program if you make a mistake. There is no button you can push that will wipe out your funds, sign you up for unwanted services, or enable hackers to access your accounts.
*But remember – most online programs are very safe. You won’t risk the aforementioned tragedies using trusted online software and services. But if you are worried regardless, Excel is a great electronic stepping stone for you.
Although with a little tinkering around you can figure out how to use Excel’s basic functions without help, there’s no harm in asking a more tech-savvy friend or relative to set up some nice budgeting tools for you.
In Excel, there are endless possibilities to the styles and methods you can choose to use for your budgeting and finances. For example, you can create weekly or monthly tables, basically identical to your checkbook. Add a mathematical formula to the table, and it will do the math for you.
You can set up different tables or tabs (like pages) devoted to certain accounts, categories of spending, specific credit cards, and so on. You can even link information from each table to one consolidated place to track your overall financial situation.
If you are an Excel beginner, you may need some help setting up these tables and functions. But if you do know your way around Excel, don’t be afraid to experiment around with different systems of budgeting and work out a unique system that works for you!
Even beyond convenience and clarity, using Excel for your budgeting/finances comes with some extra perks:
- It’s free
- It’s a great way to keep reliable financial records
- Some banks allow you to download financial statements directly to Excel
- It’s customizable to your personal preferences/style/use
If you try Excel and enjoy that style of budgeting, great! But if you’d like an even easier or more sophisticated and direct style of banking, Excel will act as an excellent stepping stone to online programs.
Still stuck on paper? Take the first step to electronic budgeting with your very own Excel spreadsheet!