How to use Money in Excel, the advanced personal finance tool that's free for Microsoft 365 users

·6 min read
woman using laptop computer at office
Money in Excel can give you crystal clear insight into your finances. Alys Tomlinson/Getty Images
  • Money in Excel is a financial planning tool that can help you track how much money you spend every month.

  • You can download the Money in Excel template from Microsoft's website, and use it with Microsoft 365.

  • To use Money in Excel, you need to let Excel connect to your financial services using a secure connection.

  • Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Microsoft includes a few unexpected (and relatively unadvertised) features in its Microsoft 365 subscription. One of the most useful is Money in Excel, a workbook for Microsoft Excel that gives you a dashboard to review all your personal finances.

You can use Money in Excel to securely connect all your financial accounts - savings, investments, loans, credit cards, and so on. From there, the workbook can analyze your data and generate reports. These can include monthly snapshots of your budget, your overall net worth, recurring expenses, and more.

How to get Money in Excel

To install and use Money in Excel, you need to have an active Microsoft 365 Personal or Microsoft 365 Family subscription. Those are the only Office 365 subscriptions that are compatible with Money for Excel.

  1. Using a web browser, go to Microsoft's Money in Excel webpage. If necessary, log into your Microsoft 365 account and then click "Download." Save the downloaded Excel template to a folder on your computer.

    What is Money in Excel 2
    Download the Money for Excel template to your computer and open it in Excel. Dave Johnson/Insider
  2. Open the downloaded Excel template file in Excel.

  3. If you see a notification bar across the top of the Excel window warning that you are in Protected View, click "Enable Editing" so you can work with the template. Alternatively, you might see a New Office Add-in pane on the right side of the window. If you do, click "Trust this add-in."

You've now opened Money in Excel and you're ready to start using the file.

How to use Money in Excel

Money in Excel is an easy-to-use template that gives you multiple views of your finances. The hardest part is setting it up for the first time, and that's mainly because you'll have to go through the time-consuming process of syncing each of your financial accounts one at a time.

Here's how to get started with the Money in Excel template.

How to start using Money in Excel

  1. The first time you start Money in Excel, you'll need to log into your Microsoft 365 account in the workbook to enable it. You should see a pane on the right side of the Excel window - click "Sign in" and enter your Microsoft 365 credentials.

    What is Money in Excel 3
    Sign into your Microsoft account to get started. Dave Johnson/Insider
  2. For an overview of Money in Excel, you can browse the first two tabs in the workbook - "Welcome" and "Instructions." These sheets provide an overview of how to use it. When you've reviewed them, you can keep them where they are or delete or hide them (right-click on the sheet tab and choose "Delete" or "Hide" from the menu).

  3. To get started, you need to add at least one of your financial accounts. Money in Excel uses Plaid, a popular, highly secure tool for synchronizing financial accounts. At the bottom of the Money in Excel pane on the right, click "Get started." Follow the instructions to add your first account.

    What is Money in Excel 4
    Sign into your Microsoft account to get started. Dave Johnson/Insider
  4. You need to enter your username and password and, depending on how your account is configured, also enter a passcode texted or emailed to you. Microsoft never receives or records your login information for your account - it's all handled securely by Plaid.

  5. After your first account is entered, click "Add an account" at the top of the Money in Excel pane and continue adding more accounts until you are done. Remember that the workbook becomes more useful if you add all your accounts.

    What is Money in Excel 5
    Add all the accounts you'd like. Dave Johnson/Insider
  6. Now take a look at the main Excel pane, where the spreadsheets are located. In addition to the "Welcome" and "Instructions" sheets, you should see sheets called "Snapshot," "Transactions," and "Categories." Explore them - Snapshot shows you important details on a monthly basis (click the month at the top right to change the snapshot to a different time period), while Transactions is a filterable, sortable list of transactions across all your accounts.

  7. In the Money in Excel pane on the right, click "Templates" at the top. Here you can see additional spreadsheet templates you can add. To install one, click "Add to workbook." After a moment, you should see a new spreadsheet tab on the left.

    What is Money in Excel 6
    There are several tabs in the pane on the right. The Templates pane lets you add new reports to your workbook. Dave Johnson/Insider

Why you should consider using Money in Excel

Unless you already use financial software, you probably don't have access to a program that can present simplified views of your entire financial picture like this. If you already have a Microsoft 365 subscription, Money for Excel is an essentially free way to do that.

Money in Excel has considerable advantages. It's highly secure, for example, since Microsoft doesn't have direct access to your login credentials; that's managed by Plaid, a secure solution used by all major financial institutions.

It also delivers a wealth of information that's hard to get any other way. Consider, for example, the Recurring Expenses template. This gives you "hidden" insight into recurring charges on your various credit cards all on one page. One or more of your credit card companies might offer a feature similar to this, but you probably don't have access to a single view that includes all your credit and debit cards.

Likewise, Money for Excel can synthesize all your accounts to show you your net worth, create a monthly budget, and see how much money you spend by category - like dining out - regardless of which combination of accounts you use to spend that money.

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Money in Excel can display your total dining out budget, among other categories. Dave Johnson/Insider

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