Easy budget management with Excel

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This is post #8 in the Ten Days of Office series celebrating the one-year anniversary of the release of Office 2010 with tips and tricks for getting the most from your Office experience.

In today’s economy, smart money management is a necessary skill. Whether managing the family budget, planning college expenses, or budgeting for your upcoming wedding, Microsoft Excel can help you track the latest numbers, even while on the go with Excel Mobile 2010 on your Windows Phone 7 or the Excel Web App. To help you get the most out of Excel while planning your budgets, I wanted to share a few tips, including conditional formatting, sparklines, and how to share your budget via SkyDrive.

In the embedded workbook below you can see how we used conditional formatting rules to highlight where expenses and income exceed budget, and created sparklines to show trends over a six-month period. Change a value, and watch the conditional formatting in cells and the sparklines change! Be sure to take a look at Sheet2 in the workbook, where you’ll see some how-to information for creating conditional formatting rules and the sparklines in your Excel spreadsheets.

You can download this workbook by clicking the View full-size workbook button in the lower-right corner of the embedded workbook (at the right end of the black bar, above). Clicking the button loads the workbook in a new browser window (or tab), where you’ll see a Download button. Note that you can’t type in the worksheet cells in the full-size view.

For information about advanced settings for embedding a workbook, see Customize how your Excel workbook is embedded.

By saving your workbook to SkyDrive, you can also share your budget with family members or friends, instead of emailing a massive file. Then everyone you give permission to can see and even make changes to the file.

 Editing workbook from SkyDrive in browser

So, what are you budgeting for? Whether you’re just getting started or you’re a seasoned pro, these resources offer more information and tips on how to create and work with a budget:

— Gary Willoughby