LIFE HACK

Manage Your Money With Excel

Five templates for getting your finances in shape.

Microsoft Excel

Turn data into insights

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Ready to get a better handle on your finances? You don’t need a complicated budgeting system to get started. Thanks to a wealth of free financial templates from Microsoft, all you need is Excel for Mac and an Office 365 subscription.

Here are five of our favorite templates for making sense of your money. You can download these from Microsoft’s website, but the easiest way to get them is right within Excel: In the New From Template screen that appears when you launch the app, just type the template’s name into the Search All Templates field.

Create a household budget

Whether you’re making a budget for the first time or need to update an older one, Microsoft’s Household Monthly Budget template is a great place to start. More than a simple table, it offers a sheet to add categorized expenses, another for projected and actual spending, and a helpful Overview tab with a bird’s-eye view of it all.

An especially useful feature is the attention-grabbing red text that appears when you spend more than you budgeted for the month.

See your business expense trends

Small-business owners will appreciate the Expense Trends Budget template. In addition to providing dedicated tabs for each month’s expenses, its prebuilt summary tab helps you visualize expenditures by month and category to quickly see when you’re spending the most—and on what.

Pay off a loan or invest?

The Payoff Student Loans or Invest? template helps you figure out if you’re better off investing your monthly budget surplus or using it to pay off your student loan faster. (Of course, you can use this template for other types of loans too.)

Just enter your current loan balance, interest rate, and monthly payment, along with the projections for your potential investment. The template crunches the numbers to show the return for each approach.

Track charitable gifts and donations

The Charitable Gifts and Donations Tracker is a nicely formatted spreadsheet with columns for recording when, what, and how much you’ve donated, and whether each item is potentially tax-deductible. Come April, you’ll be glad to have this in one tidy place.

    Microsoft Excel

    Turn data into insights

    VIEW