A Monthly Budget

Planning a monthly budget can be a particularly important exercise for students. Often students have unrealistic expectations about earning a living once they leave high school. They dramatically underestimate the extent of everyday living expenses. Building monthly budgets using actual expenses has long been a staple activity of life skills math. By transferring this activity to a spreadsheet, students can adjust and tinker with their budget, play with "what if" scenarios, and make plans for long-term changes such as having a family. They can also use charts such as pie charts to represent the major portions of their monthly budget.

Note: a more complex form of this exercise can be found in Budgeting #2.

Math Objective

Students learn how to organize data, use basic operations in the context of planning, and ask "what if" questions.

  • Compute quantities that may include whole numbers, decimals, and percents
  • Gather data from various sources
  • Solve a real-life problem using a spreadsheet
  • Estimate results of computations and make adjustments by asking "what if" questions


What To Do

Files to Use

Download Info/Instructions



Grid Worksheets (math concepts lesson)


phone books, classified section of newspaper, sample of utility bill, access to telephones


Classroom Discussion and Activities

Computer Lab Activities

Added Exercises


Classroom Discussion and Activities



Have student devise a plan for how funds will be acquired for these expenses. You can ask the following kinds of questions: "How would you obtain the money for these start-up expenses?" "How long would it take you to save for them?"

Teacher Note: This is a good lesson in which to use a SUM formula. The formula =sum(B2:B26) totals the numbers in cells B2 to B26. Consult your spreadsheet manual for further details on formulas if you are not familiar with them.



Computer Lab Activities


Added Exercises