Note: Updated for 2018! Anything related to the file that references 2017, such as the tabs being set up for 2017, are now reflecting 2018.
Young Adult Money has been around for nearly 5 years and in that time we’ve published over 1,000 posts.
We’ve shared many spreadsheets and tools. But we’ve never shared a budget spreadsheet.
Finally we have an automated budget spreadsheet in Excel that we are sharing on the blog.
There are a ton of budgeting apps out there, but most people who are serious about budgeting end up using some sort of spreadsheet.
Spreadsheets offer control and flexibility to users, and allows them to look closer at the transactions going through their accounts.
Now I have nothing against apps. Many people find them useful, and there’s no denying that there are a ton of good ones out there.
But I personally have used a budget spreadsheet for over four years and have found it useful. The more people I talk to about budgeting, the more I hear that people desire a spreadsheet-based budget without all the manual work that comes with it.
Today we finally have a budget spreadsheet in Excel that is automated and easy to update. But first let me tell you a bit about the budgeting process I’ve used the past four years.
My Budgeting Process
I’m an Excel nerd so using a spreadsheet to budget was a no-brainer for me. I’ve had the same spreadsheet for over four years now. But why haven’t I shared it?
When I share spreadsheets and tools I want them to be as easy to use as possible. The biggest issue with spreadsheet budgeting is getting all the data in the proper format.
I have a number of credit cards due to credit card churning, plus throw in a bank account and you can see why it would take quite a bit of time to reformat everything. No two financial institutions seem to export data in the same format. So there’s a lot of work on the backend.
I didn’t want to share a budgeting spreadsheet until I solved this key piece of the puzzle. Fast forward four years and I still haven’t shared a spreadsheet.
That all changed when I discovered Tiller.
Tiller – The Key to Automation
A couple months ago I had a great conversation with the founder of Tiller. Tiller is what I have been waiting for: it automates the process of pulling in your financial data into a clean, uniform format.
Now there are a ton of apps out there that link to your accounts. But they don’t allow you to dump your data into a spreadsheet because they either haven’t built a tool that can do that or they have a huge incentive to not allow their users to dump data into a spreadsheet.
Once you sign up for Tiller you simply have to connect your accounts and your financial transactions will be dumped into a Google Spreadsheet each day. They will come through in a uniform format that looks something like this:
Tiller does cost money. They offer a free 30 day trial, but after that it’s $5/month. If you’re like me and spend an hour or more getting your data into a uniform format or have avoided budgeting because you don’t want to take the time to mess with your data, $5/month is well worth what you are getting in return for Tiller’s service.
Tiller has bank-grade security and has partnered with a company that works with some of the biggest banks in North America to ensure it’s up to the same high standards banks are held to. What was even more reassuring to me was hearing that their employees can’t even see your financial data. You can read more about their security and other features of their service on their website.
I’m all for Google Sheets, but Excel is where it’s at if you want all the options to design clean and beautiful budget spreadsheets. Yes, I just used “beautiful” and “budget spreadsheets” in the same sentence.
So I took it a step further and created an automated budget spreadsheet in Excel.
An Automated Budget Spreadsheet in Excel
Tiller is a great start, but my automated budget spreadsheet in Excel is where people will feel most “at home.” Excel is widely used and I’ve created a spreadsheet that someone with limited experience can use.
The spreadsheet has a directions tab that guides you through the process of updating the spreadsheet. It also points out best practices that will help you not “break” the file.
The data tab is where you will want to paste your Tiller data. The data will then become part of a table that uses formulas to automatically populate the monthly summary tabs and the annual summary tabs.
Note that Tiller does not automatically populate the category for each transaction. Having the user populate the category allows the user to assign relevant categories and look at the transactions at a lower level of detail than they would if category was auto-filled.
On the categories tab you can add or delete categories as you see fit.
On the monthly summary tabs, everything is automated except for the budget column and the categories. You can add and delete categories as you see fit. You can unhide the hidden rows towards the bottom if you need to add more categories.
Everything is formula-driven, making it easy to see a snapshot for the month. While tabs have already been created for each month in 2017, you can easily make a copy of any of the months tab and choose a different month and year drop-down as you see fit. Everything will update automatically for whatever month you choose.
One additional thing included in this file is the annual summary. If you go to the 2017 tab you can see an annual summary of your income and expenses by month. This is automatically populated and you can easily make a summary for future years by choosing a different year from the drop-down.
Click the image below for a better view.
This spreadsheet takes a lot of the manual work out of the budgeting process and gives you nice clean views of your financials, both budgeted versus actual as well as net inflow and outflow of cash.
After four years of not having a budget spreadsheet to share on the site, we finally have one. My hope is that this easier process of importing and tagging data will encourage others to start budgeting. After all, using this process you can easily update your budget in less than 30 minute a month, perhaps even less than 10 minutes depending on how many transactions you need to tag.
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Have you looked for an automated approach to budgeting in spreadsheets? What do you think about the automated budget spreadsheet in Excel?