Budgeting Software Spreadsheets

Written by Sarah Provost
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Would you spend hours with a pencil and ruler, drawing intersecting lines on a piece of white paper, when you can buy graph paper? I hope not. So why would you still use the old paper ledger for your budget when there are software spreadsheets available? A quick search of the Internet will turn up many sites that offer help for the budget-impaired, and many of them are even free.

Many people who aren't computer literate find spreadsheets to be intimidating, but they really are just a tool like graph paper. The format is set out for you, so all you have to do is fill in the categories. Usually, the software will suggest those for you too, so all you have to do is select the ones that apply to you.

Calculations are done for you automatically. The program not only adds up your expenses in each category, but also keeps a running plus or minus figure so you know where you are in relation to your budgeted amount. Finally, the software offers a variety of ways to analyze your data.

Visual Presentation of Data

For me, this is one of the best features of using budgeting software. I can look at a spreadsheet, see the numbers and understand them intellectually. But when I'm presented with, say, a bar graph comparing my budgeted amount to my actual spending in each category, that information reaches me on a gut level. Even for the most technophobic among us, the use of budgeting software makes life easier, not more complicated.

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