This tutorial will show you how to create a monthly budget and forecast in Excel.
It will first cover estimating revenues. Then, the tutorial will move on to cost calculations, including direct expenses such as marketing or operating expenditures such as salaries, office, etc.
Finally, it will conclude by estimating the amount of cash you will need to have to fund the plan and a way to test the model for any unexpected events.
Download my Monthly Budget and Forecast Template to follow the examples used.
Table of Contents
Step 1. List Monthly Operating Expenses
Start your budget by listing the actual costs. Those can be expenses from a previous month or an average taken over the last few months.
Analysing your costs first allows you to understand the level of your outgoings and how much income you need to bring in to cover those expenses and break even.
My Monthly Budget and Forecast Template lists historical expenses from the last three months preceding the start of the budget year. Then, it extrapolates the cost to the further months. It also uses an inflation index to account for future increases.
If you still need to do it, itemise your expenses on a separate spreadsheet and use one of the columns to categorise them into broader categories.
Learn More: Visit my tutorial on How to Build a Cash Flow Forecast in Excel for more examples of general cost projections.
Step 2. Budget Monthly Headcount and Staff Cost
It is also good to separate and budget expenses related to salaries and staff costs. Add flexibility to your spreadsheet so it’s easy to increase or decrease the number of employees throughout the year.
For example, my Monthly Budget and Forecast Template lists employees by their function. Then, it links the headcount numbers to the monthly salary assumption to calculate the costs. It also uses a salary cost index to adjust the forecast for potential increases.
Remember to calculate salaries and other business overheads such as taxes, pensions and bonuses to budget the fully loaded staff cost.
Learn More: Visit my tutorial on How to Create a Merger and Acquisition Model in Excel to discover more ways of projecting employees’ numbers and costs.
Step 3. Adding Revenue Forecast to a Monthly Budget
The fixed and salaries expenses are the starting point of our budget. Its other side will be revenue projections. List the main monthly drivers (e.g., sales or customer number forecast) and link them to revenue estimates.
Clearly showing the link between sales and revenues should help you to identify any risks and opportunities for future growth.
For example, my Monthly Budget and Forecast Template takes the historical sales average as a starting point to forecast future sales numbers. Also, it includes average revenue per sale assumptions spread across the year. Multiplying the two numbers allows you to budget the income.
Finally, remember to highlight the input cells to easily adjust sales estimates, allowing you to run different growth scenarios.
Learn More: Visit my tutorial on How to Create a Subscription Model with Churn Calculation to discover more ways of forecasting revenues.
Step 4. Forecast Cost of Sales and Other Direct Expenses
Use sales and the revenue forecast to budget the costs of sales and direct expenses. Generally, they are variable costs linked directly to the business performance.
Splitting the cost will help you to analyse the items impacting your gross margin and their overall impact on the cash flow.
For example, my Monthly Budget and Forecast Template uses three types of direct expenses/costs of sales:
- Fixed Cost per Sale – an expense related to producing or servicing the unit or customer calculated per sale, e.g. shipping fee,
- % Share of Revenue – cost based on the amount of income, e.g. payment handle fee.
Finally, try adjusting the sales number to see its impact on the direct costs in your budget.
Learn More: Visit my tutorial on How to Create a Telecom Financial Model in Excel for more examples of linking a cost forecast to sales.
Step 5. Include Accruals, Deferrals and Other Budget Adjustments
Remember to add other costs, such as working capital or one-off expenses. Also, include taxes and additional fees such as interest or bank fees.
For example, my Monthly Budget and Forecast Template includes accrual of taxes and bonus payments, assuming their outflow occurs at the end of the year.
Keeping track of a balance sheet of liabilities helps you avoid surprise payments. You can read more about accruals here [external link].
Learn More: Visit my tutorial on How to Create a Capital Investment Plan in Excel for more examples of how to forecast movement in payables and receivables.
Step 6. Show Monthly Cash Balance and Movement
With a monthly budget including expenses and income projections, you can complete the full monthly cash flow forecast. Include the starting cash balance and analyse the cash flow to understand any deficit or cash surplus.
For example, my Monthly Budget and Forecast Template lists the metrics, such as average monthly cash burn, to see how quickly you lose or gain money. Then, it calculates the monthly cash balance to see if you need additional money injections.
Having a complete cash flow view in your budget helps you plan to raise funds in the future or adjust your expenses to avoid a cash deficit.
Learn More: Visit my tutorial on How to Create an Excel Financial Model with Debt Financing for another example of estimating cash movement and its impact on a funding requirement.
Step 7. Convert a Monthly Budget into a Long-Term Forecast
Summarise your monthly budget into an annual view and extrapolate the output into the future to create a long-term plan.
For example, my Monthly Budget and Forecast Template adds long-term growth assumptions to make simple growth predictions for revenue growth. Also, it allows you to increase costs by adding inflation and expenses.
Creating a long-term forecast helps you see the business trajectory and set expectations for the future.
Learn More: Visit my tutorial on How to Create a Real Estate Investment Model in Excel for more examples of creating a long-term forecast.
Step 8. List the Main Assumptions and Test the Budget
List the main assumptions and changes to make your spreadsheet more functional. You can use them to stress-test the model and find any weaknesses in your budget.
For example, my Monthly Budget and Forecast Template lets you easily change sales forecast assumptions and check their effect on the overall cash requirement. Consequently, it makes it easy to plan for unexpected events and test scenarios under which your business may need more money.
Finally, list the assumptions that break the model and think of ways to mitigate the negative outcome.
Learn More: Visit my tutorial on How to Create a Project Finance Model in Excel to discover more ways of using assumptions tables to stress-test a financial forecast.
Summary: How to Create a Monthly Budget and Forecast
This tutorial has shown how to create a Monthly Budget and Long-Term Forecast.
It started with calculating general and staff expenses. Then, it showed how to forecast sales and revenues. Finally, it concluded with budget adjustments, movements in cash and a long-term forecast.
The monthly budget spreadsheet tutorial focused on the following steps:
- List operating expenses. Show the recurring costs associated with running the business.
- Budget staff costs. Link the headcount projections to the overall employees’ costs.
- Add revenue forecast to your budget. Show how a change in monthly sales impacts the overall cash flow.
- Forecast cost of sales and other direct costs. Those would be the costs directly related to generating business revenues.
- Add other adjustments costs such as taxes, bonus accruals, receivables, etc. This will allow you to budget for any unexpected one-off payments.
- Show cash movements and balance. Look out for any cash deficit causing an additional funding requirement.
- Convert a monthly budget into a long-term forecast. See how the current business trajectory affects future results.
- Add an assumptions table and test the budget. Vary the inputs to test their impact on the costs and revenues.
Click the button below to download my Monthly Budget and Forecast Template in Excel.
The spreadsheet calculates monthly operating expenses, sales and revenues. It also includes adjustments for accruals such as taxes or bonuses. Finally, it converts the monthly budget into a long-term forecast.
The template consists of the following spreadsheets and sections:
- Monthly Budget: a detailed forecast of sales, revenue and costs, including calculation of cash balance, tax and bonus accruals.
- Long-Term Forecast: a five-year projection based on the monthly budget and a table of assumptions.
- Graphs: an example of showing the monthly revenues and cost visually.
The file is in Excel format, but you can convert it to Google Sheets using the instructions here [external link].
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Get in Touch
Hi, my name is Jacek, and I love Excel. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this tutorial as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you have any questions about creating a Monthly Budget and Financial Models in particular or financial analysis in general, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Click here if you would like to book my One-to-One Financial Modelling Crash Course. For more Financial Modelling Tutorials, visit this page. If you need help with financial modelling or cash flow forecasting, see my Financial Modelling and Forecasting Consulting services here.
Note that this tutorial is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice.
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