Lauren's Quick And Easy Excel Budgeter

It’s hard to beat an excel spreadsheet for quickly shifting between a granular and top-level view of your personal finance situation. Here’s reader Lauren’s account balance spreadsheet she made to keep track of her expenditures, past, present, and future, and itemize her budget.

Download Lauren’s Budgeter (XLS)

1. Scroll to the current month.
2. Enter your current balance in the “Starting Balance” box at the top left.
3. Enter your credits and debits on the appropriate dates they will hit your account. Use positive numbers for money getting added credits, and negative numbers for when it’s getting taken away.
4. The green “Total” will change to reflect your total overall balance.

Use it as is, compare it to your own, or mod to fit your own needs.

Lauren says it’s “quite nifty,” and also uses it as a calendar.

Here’s the excel code for the totaler for those who like to look under the hood:



Edit Your Comment

  1. SpendorTheCheap says:

    When Lauren finds out about, it’s going to be like in “Knocked Up” when they learn about Mr. Skin.

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      Some of us don’t care to put our financial details online. At least not deliberately, lord knows they probably get there anyway…

    • jiarby says:

      I may be a Luddite… but I would never provide my online banking user name & passwords to a 3rd party website. EVER.

      • SpendorTheCheap says:

        Yeah — luddites are protective about their passwords on the internet, but they’re fine with downloading third party apps from “lauren”.

        • guroth says:

          An XLS spreadsheet is not an app. The allowable actions of the spreadsheet are limited to what excel lets it do. You can view all of the code contained within the XLS so it is possible to know exactly what it does or can do, simply by looking at it. There is a huge difference between storing information locally on your computer, and transmitting information across the internet into a remote server that you have no control over, and have no idea who has what kind of control over. The spreadsheet doesn’t even ask for any sensitive details like bank information or credit card accounts, so even if the spreadsheet was somehow malicious and sent everything you typed into it back to Lauren then the only information she would get is that you’re currently spending way too much money no non food items at the grocery store.

          • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

            No, it IS an App. We must Enable Macros to open Lauren’s spreadsheet. Malicious macros can delete files off your c drive. You have to trust the source.

            • guroth says:

              Allow me to refer you back to the part about being able to see the code in plain text, so you know exactly what it is doing.

              • blissfool says:

                Oh right, like everyone is going to understand macros just like that? Most people only know basic formulas for excel, if at all. So, should they not download it if they are not going to understand it and could be harmful? May be~ but, alas, world is not that perfect yet and it is full of naive people. And people will put their guard down just by the fact that it’s posted on Consumerist.

          • magus_melchior says:

            Um, Excel macros are what make all Excel spreadsheets that use them applications. I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember, but there was a huge Office macro virus scare back in the 90s, and it was incredibly hard to contain because businesses were (and are) heavily dependent on MS Office and are notoriously slow to update their software installations.

            Yes, you CAN get malware from a spreadsheet. It’s just one example of how convenience can severely compromise security.

      • quijote says:

        Don’t worry. I think you have to destroy a few 19th century industrial looms before you an be considered a Luddite.

    • Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

      Too bad doesn’t allow for forecasting like Lauren’s spreadsheet does.

      • SpendorTheCheap says:

        For forecasting what? The weather.

        mint has “goals”.

        And, mint is now owned by Intuit. If anyone has been using “quickbooks” for years, then you’ve had your information with them. . .bank accounts, cc numbers, whatever.

        The people who are going to do malicious things with your banking information don’t start websites like mint.

        Ridiculously misplaced fear.

        • Woofer says:

          But people who want to do malicious things with your banking information target websites like Mint first. I’ll stick to pen and paper ledger systems while I wait for someone to break into my house, thank you very much.

    • areed67 says:

      I can’t find a way to budget like this in, though. They’ll let me set budgets for excessive spending, but that’s it.

    • reddbettie says: is an amazing thing. But it’s not useful to everyone. does not keep up with my banks online security making it impossible for them to update my account information.

  2. reddbettie says:

    Won’t let me save it. Could be my work blocking the file though.

  3. sixsevenco says:

    Here are some other very good expense/budget trackers in excel.

    Chandoo FTW!

  4. Beeker26 says:

    I did this for a long time with a custom made spreadsheet. It works well enough.

  5. mbgrabbe says:

    One suggestion — If you remove the empty module1 from the Visual Basic Editor (hit Alt+F11 to get there), you’ll avoid the Enable Macros prompt when you open the workbook.

    Also, that’s a ton of named ranges, wow! Cool sheet.

  6. anoniemoose says:

    Seconding You don’t really have to worry about them leaking your data because that’s now how they make their money. They make money when you click through to the offers they show- which are contextually added to your budgeting to provide actualy helpful tips.

    Like if you have a goal to save up for a trip, they might link to a bank that’s offering high-interest accounts.

    Otherwise, learn to do your own Excel. It’s really not that hard, and there’s plenty of stuff you need to tailor to your own budget. (If your rent is due every six months, you could choose to average it out every month, or you might want to budget specifically for the month it’s due- you need to make your own choices here)

  7. BrandonOBrien says:

    In addition to Mint, there are sites like and that do exactly the same thing

  8. Purr says:


    Not the online version or, just Quicken. I have done forecasting with Quicken since it’s inception. Simply add the next few months expenses in to the register and label them as “budget”. Overestimate expenses, underestimate income. I forecast for three to six months depending on the time of year or current economic situation. I am far from a Luddite, but looked into and the online version of Quicken and did not feel secure in any way. I want that information on my very own drives, (Plural. Backup often.) not a system subject to other people’s actions.

    While I’d love to dissect Lauren’s excel file (because I’m an Excel nerd) I’m not downloading a macro-based .xls file from the internet. We are Network Security-educated an employed in this house and some things just don’t happen.

  9. TehLlama says:

    I have a very similar Excel system, and it allows me to forecast up to three paychecks and two credit cards cycles ahead.
    It certainly helps if you’re able to consistently input every expenditure you make.

    Also, if you’re ever away from internet access for periods of rime, an old school .xls is absolutely the way to go.