How Do I Make a Budget Graph?

by Louise Balle

Budgeting is important because it forces you to take a hard look at your financial situation and makes you more disciplined about how you spend your money. If you look at your personal or business budget in graph form, you may see a trend and be able to make better decisions about your bills and expenditures. Use Microsoft Excel to create your own custom budget graph. You can then refer to it and make adjustments every month.

Create Columns

Open a blank spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel and type in two column headings: "Name of Expense" and "Amount." You can also add "Date Due" if you want to keep track of when each bill must be paid. Make the columns bold and adjust the width of the column so that all of the information to be entered will fit. Tab down to the next row to begin entering your data.

Enter Budget Data

Gather all of your bills and information about your expenses. Enter the name of the first creditor or company that you have to pay. Tab over and type in the amount of the bill. Use a monthly figure---if you pay a bill each week, multiply it by four to get the total amount that you pay each month. Repeat this for all of your expenses. After typing in the final bill, add one more line for the "Total" and add up all of your monthly bills.

Create Your Graph

Once you have your data saved, use your mouse to select all of the data, including the column headings. Go to the Excel main menu and select "Insert" then "Charts." Choose the type of graph that you want to use to represent your budget---a bar or pie graph will be most effective for comparing your bills visually. When you select the graph, it will instantly appear in your Excel worksheet.

Format Your Graph

If you like the appearance of your budget graph you are done. If you want to modify the colors, text, and borders, right click the chart and select "Format Plot Area." Here you can adjust the color of the background and borders, and even add a shadow effect to the graph. Right-click the bars, lines, and shapes within the graph if you want to change their color. Right-click each text box within the graph and select "Font ... " if you want to change the text size or color.

About the Author

Louise Balle has been writing Web articles since 2004, covering everything from business promotion to topics on beauty. Her work can be found on various websites. She has a small-business background and experience as a layout and graphics designer for Web and book projects.