The Advanced Budget Project — Part D: The Budget Report
A budget is probably the most important spreadsheet you can create. A good budget will keep you focused on your ultimate financial goal and help you avoid pitfalls like that adorable timeshare on Aruba.
Now we are at the last part of our four-part Advanced Budget Project for Microsoft Excel 2016 on Windows. This is the crucial part where we find out how we are doing relative to our budget. In the first three parts, we created the Budget itself, a Ledger to keep track of our expenditures, and a Pivot Table to summarize our actual expenditures.
In this part, we will set up the all-important Budget Report, that is, a comparison of budgeted versus actual expenses. After going through the trouble of recording all of our expenses, this Budget Report will tell us if we are on budget or not. The pivot table we created in the last part already gives us a good summary of our expenditures. Ideally, we would like to insert some columns into the pivot table where we could display the budget estimates right next the actual expenses. Unfortunately, pivot tables are too inflexible for this. We could copy the pivot table values into a second table that would be more flexible, but this starts getting complicated real fast. Fortunately, there is much more direct way.
If we want to compare our actual expenditures with our budget, we need to summarize our actual amounts, and the best way to do that is with an Excel function called SUMIFS. You may already be familiar with the SUMIF function, which is handy for adding up numbers that meet a certain condition. And yes, if all we wanted was to find the total expenses in each category and did not care about the month, the simple SUMIF function would be fine.
But for our summary, we want to add up the expenses based on two conditions, Category and Month. For example, we want to see the total Groceries expenses for each individual month: Jan, Feb, and Mar. The SUMIFS function is perfect for this. Unlike the simple SUMIF function, it can add up items according to any number of different conditions. And unlike the pivot table, the SUMIFS function updates itself automatically. Think of that last “S” in SUMIFS as standing for “Super”.
Because of space considerations, we will do a Budget Report only for the first quarter of the year. The procedures for the other quarters are exactly the same.
As mentioned above, this project was done using Excel 2016 (updated by Office 365) running on Windows 10. Most if not all aspects of this project can be performed on other versions of Excel, but the exact instructions may differ.