Easy Way to Add Up Monthly Expenses in Your Spreadsheets

Why Have a Household Budget Spreadsheet?

One of my wife’s challenges as “manager of the household budget and head of the household purchasing committee” is to work out which purchases were justified and which should be cut down on (or argued over, whatever).

While I am a total computer addict, my wife feels she has better things to do than to spend hours in a spreadsheet working these things out. Also, if I leave it to her, she is going to say all her expenses were completely justified (how many shoes does one woman need?), and mine are all up for discussion (I am not a fast-food addict, honest!).

Here is a geeky Microsoft Excel trick that makes adding up your unnecessary expenses quick and easy. Rather than label or categorize your expenses, we can quickly run through our spreadsheet marking these expenses visually, giving both a nice clue at a glance how far off the rails our spending has gone, but also allowing us to add up these expenses with a couple of key presses!

Our Magic Color-Coded Household Budget Spreadsheet


What we decided to do is allocate a color for shoe purchases, and another color for junk food. Then we assign a macro to a keyboard combination which works out the totals to see who wins spent over budget.

Here is how an example spreadsheet might look (no, I am not showing my actual expenses, ha):

Yes, yes, I know, my need for burgers ever-so slightly outweighs my wife’s shoe purchases. Perhaps I need to hack in a fail safe …

Building the Cell Color Counting Macro

Anyway, the magic is in the macro, and here it is:

First we create a little subroutine that takes our range of data and finds first the yellow (junk food), and then the red (shoes). We could make the whole thing more generic by making the range flexible but for sake of discussion it is fixed at B4:H13 right now. If you wanted more colours, just duplicate one of the lines and change the target range (eg. To K6), and the colour value (eg. To vbGreen).


Sub UpdateSalesTotals()
Range("K4").Value = SumInColor(Range("B4:H13"), vbYellow)
Range("K5").Value = SumInColor(Range("B4:H13"), vbRed)
End Sub

Next is where the real work is done, the SumInColor custom function.

Function SumInColor(rngNumbers As Range, lngColor As Long) As Currency
Dim clSpecificCell As Range
Dim lngTotal As Currency
lngTotal = 0

For Each clSpecificCell In rngNumbers
If clSpecificCell.Interior.Color = lngColor Then lngTotal = lngTotal + clSpecificCell.Value

SumInColor = lngTotal
End Function

First we define our variables, then we perform a loop that goes through the supplied range (rngNumbers) looking for the supplied color (lngColor). If it finds the specified color then it adds the found figure to the running total.Unfortunately, Excel does not seem to have any way we can run this macro automatically when we color a cell, so instead we must use the Options button to set a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Shift+C.

Magic isn’t it?

Can you think of any other ways to use or improve on this idea? Please share in the comments …


Yoav Ezer co-authors Codswallop, a technology and productivity blog. He is also the CEO of a software company that produces PDF to XLS conversion software.

Photo Credit: RambergMediaImages


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