There are many budget templates available online, but if you want to customize or create a budget, you’ll need to learn at least the basic functions. Below you’ll find examples and explanations of the functions that are often used in Google Sheets when working on a budget. They are similar, but not always the same, as the functions in Microsoft Excel.
= + or –
There are several ways to go about adding or subtracting numbers from each other (which you’ll be doing a lot). You can either select a cell and type = then write out the numbers, e.g. 5+15-5, which will give you 15.
Alternatively, you can add or subtract cells from each other. This is often a better option when you’re creating a budget because if the cell’s content changes, the cell with the function in it will automatically update. For example, in the image below if the cell B4, which is 5, becomes a 10, the sum will automatically update to 20. In the image above, you would need to change the 5 to a 10, and update the function to be =10+15-5.
Connecting cells to each other and letting them automatically update can drastically cut down the time it takes to manage your budget.
= / or *
Similar to addition or subtraction, use / to divide numbers or cells and * to multiple them.
In this case, five divided by five equals one, and five multiplied by five equals 25.
The sum function will give you the total of all the numbers within the parenthesis. You can either type out the numbers, select an area, or combine the two.
=sum(5, 15, -5) gives you 15
You can also put cells, or areas, or even another function within the parenthesis. In the example below, the function adds up everything in the B column between, and including, cells A1 to A3. Again, if one of the cells change, the result will automatically update.
It could be changed to =sum(A1:A3, -5, 10), and the result will be 20.
If you’re adding multiple numbers in a row or column, using the sum function can also help you save time. For example, if down column A you have different types of expenses, and the numbers go in column B, you can quickly add up all the numbers – or a selection of numbers.
On the left, the function adds up all the numbers, on the right B6 (gas) is left out:
This function is a little more complex, but it’s worth learning because it can be very helpful. Sumif only adds up the numbers in a range if they meet the inputted criteria. The function works like this: =sumif(look here, for this, if found it will add up these)
In the example below, it’s saying look in the A2:A7 area, for “Aldi” (you need to use quotes because it’s a word, not a number), then give the results next to “Aldi” in the area B2:B7.
Although these aren’t functions per se, there are a few other time-saving tips you should try out.
Quickly duplicate numbers down a column or across a row. To do this, hover over a cell on the bottom right until you see the large bolded plus sign. Click and hold, and drag up/down/left/right to duplicate the number.
Continue a series. Similarly, if you want to continue a series, you can just type out the first two parts, select both of them, and then drag down or across.
This works with dates as well. If you get paid every other Friday, write out the first two dates and you can select and drag down to fill in a column with your future paydays.