I have to admit that I like budgets, I don’t know why, but this is it. People laugh when I tell them that I used a budget in Excel for my wedding and while building my home and I don’t write my expenses on a piece of paper or a notebook like everyone else.
Rigid budget templates
I have seen many examples on the internet, some even look really good, but I’ve seen this problem in many of them, they seem rigid. Changing the timeframe and the categories means having to add or remove rows and columns, redo formatting and formulas.
The ideal project budget
To be clear, I don’t believe in perfection, and what I am presenting here is far from perfect. However, I think a good budget model should have the following characteristics:
- Automated – all the subtotals and functions should adapt to my data, without the need to multiply formulas and redo formatting
- Easy to understand – I should understand quickly (like 6 seconds) how things are going
- Recyclable – when I start a new project I should be able to reuse an old budget
An example: the conference
To work on something real we will suppose that we are project managers for a conference and we need a budget, both for an initial estimate and also for real time tracking of expenses. I built this template using Google Sheets because it makes collaboration much easier, I would use Google Sheets if I would organize a conference.
Data entry and data analysis
I talk a lot in my Excel online course about the separation between data entry and data analysis. I want to have a simple table for data entry and to use a pivot table for data analysis.
The input table
The table where we register the expenses is simple, only 5 columns, no need for countless columns to arrange the data by month and year.
I don’t like to see people writing random stuff, so I added validation on the category and the type column. This way we make sure that all the expenses fit into the categories I defined earlier and put into another sheet.
“This table, that you described, is not helping me, I need a overview, a summary.”
Correct, bingo, read more bellow.
Using a pivot table (yes, we have Pivot Tables in Google Sheets) we can have a summary of the expenses arranged by category and type.
See for yourself
I used about 500 words already to tell you about this budget template, click here to take a look. Good luck with your projects! 🙂