Excel Deluxe 'Envelopes' Check Register Spreadsheet

Excel Deluxe "Envelopes" Check Register Spreadsheet
(with One-Click Sort, plus Reconcile Section)

Price: $11.95
File Type:Excel Spreadsheet (.xls & .xlsm)
Operating System:Microsoft Windows
Software Req'd:MS Excel 2003 or Later
File Size:~1.3mb (.ZIP)
Last Update: 2010-03-14
Current Version:       2.0
Macros:Yes [What's this?]

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Those of you looking for an easy way to track your money in Excel — and utilize the "envelopes" system of budgeting while you're at it — will absolutely want to take a look at my Deluxe Envelopes Check Register!

Why call it "deluxe?" Well, it's WAY more full-featured than my free envelopes budgeting spreadsheet. Here's a quick comparison:

Obviously, this Deluxe Envelopes Register is still built upon the time-tested, Grandma-approved, "envelope" budgeting concept. Click this image to get a closer look (shown here in Excel 2007) at a sample Register:

Excel Deluxe 'Envelopes' Check Register

Since there are three account Registers in the spreadsheet, there's also a Spending Report worksheet to summarize things:

'Envelopes' Spending Report

Looks pretty good, huh?

Interested in a Video Tour?

Just for kicks 'n' giggles, I built a short Flash video "tour" of the Deluxe "Envelopes" Register.


Wanna see for yourself?
View my Flash video:

Deluxe "Envelopes" Register
Video Tour

(640x480 / 10+ minutes)

It's in the Flash format, and a little over 10 minutes long. Just click the hyperlink in the box at the right to check it out. (It'll open in a new window.)

Once you've seen that, it's time to talk about the software and system requirements for running the Deluxe Envelopes Register.

Spreadsheet Requires Excel 2003 or Later

Requires MS Excel 97 or later.

The Deluxe Envelopes Register isn't a stand-alone program. Rather, it's an Excel spreadsheet. That means it requires that you have Microsoft Excel 2003 or later installed on your computer for it to operate.

(And no, Microsoft Works is not the same as Microsoft Excel.)

As far as operating-system requirements, it should work on Windows 98 and all later versions of Windows.

OpenOffice Users: No, it will NOT work with OpenOffice. (Though my free version does.)

Mac Users: No, this spreadsheet will NOT work on Macs.

Just in case you didn't catch that:

Not Compatible with OpenOffice or Mac

Sorry to have to yell, but it'll save folks some grief later.

Try My Free Version First

It'd be a great idea to give my free Envelopes Register a shot first. This way, you can make sure you understand the "envelopes" budgeting concept AND get a feel for how to set up the spreadsheet and enter transactions. (It's a snap!)

As noted in the comparison chart above, the free version lacks some features (obviously!) contained in the Deluxe spreadsheet. But I think it's a great starter view into the world of (paperless) envelope budgeting!

NOTE: You can also download (~630kb) the Deluxe "Envelopes" Register's "SAMPLE REGISTER" worksheet — the second of six total worksheets — on its own for your perusal. (Macros and all other worksheets have been removed. Also, it's from the XL2003 version, so it's not quite as pretty as the XL2007 version.)

It Carries a Full 30-Day Guarantee

Limited 30-Day  GuaranteeSo you paid for and downloaded my Deluxe "Envelopes" Register spreadsheet, and it isn't what you expected. Or you just can't make the thing work. Or your version of Excel is too old.

No problem. Just let me know within 30 days of purchase, and I'll refund your money.

Can't make it much easier than that, can I?

Future Updates at No Charge

I update my spreadsheets fairly often, and I'm sure the Deluxe "Envelopes" Register will be no exception. If you purchase the Deluxe version, you're entitled to all future updates at no charge. If you'd like to be kept abreast of these updates as they happen, just email me and I'll add your email address to my update-notification list.

NOTE: I will not add your email to the update list unless you ask me to do so.

"Envelope" Budgeting: A Summary

The practice of "envelope" spending is pretty darn old — though not used nearly as much as it once was.

With the advent of computers and financial programs like Quicken, envelope-based budgeting and spending has gone somewhat out of favor with current crowds. This is too bad, in my opinion. I (and folks like Dave Ramsey) would contend that "envelopes" are just as useful in household budgeting as they ever were ... if not more so!

In truth, at least a decent portion of your own family tree's trunk — your grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on — probably managed money with envelopes ... or with something very similar. The process works like this:

Envelope Budgeting: When income arrives to your household, you immediately give every penny a job. How?

Well, in the strictest sense, many families in the past would cash their paychecks and immediately allocate the funds according to purpose:

Grocery money for the month, for instance, would literally go into an envelope labeled GROCERY. And when the time came to buy groceries, Grandma took ONLY the GROCERY envelope to the store.

Likewise, cash to pay for the phone, electric, and gas bills might go into an envelope called UTILITIES.

Cash to set aside for clothing might get tucked into an envelope named CLOTHING.

Money being saved (set aside monthly, in true Freedom Account style) for the semiannual insurance bill would accumulate in an envelope labeled INSURANCE. A similar envelope might exist for Christmas and birthday GIFTS.

The important point: EVERY DOLLAR is given a task (i.e., allocated to an envelope) as soon as it's received. Thus, an overexpenditure from any one envelope (or category) cannot exist without an equal decrease in some other envelope.

We're talking cash-based spending here, people! Debt is not an option!

Is this the most efficient way to manage money? Perhaps not. Technologically, it certainly leaves something to be desired. Plus paper cuts from envelopes are really nasty.

Back in the old days, when people were paid in cash, they would take their money and divide it up in different envelopes. These enveloeps represented the categories in their budgets: food, clothes, and whatever else they needed.

When a particular envelope was empty, they stopped buying that particular item because the money budgeted for the category was gone. So, if you wanted a shirt but the clothing envelope was empty, you didn't buy the shirt that month.
— Dave Ramsey

Yet generations of debt-free families have found that budgeting their household income this way just flat-out works.

With envelope budgeting, these folks are in effect spending their money intelligently before they get a chance to spend their money stupidly.

Where do you think it might be easier to factor for your family's overall financial picture: sitting at your kitchen table, with cash from your latest paycheck on one side of you and your planned-expense envelopes on the other side ... or standing in the middle of the gleaming aisles of Fancy Big Box City, clutching a Mastercard in your eager hands?

Yeah, you guessed it:

The CEO of Fancy Big Box City hates envelopes.

And since my Deluxe "Envelopes" Register spreadsheet means you don't have to worry about paper envelopes any longer, but can still follow the tried-and-true envelope budgeting principles easily on your computer, well, Mr. Big Box CEO is not gonna be a happy camper.

Perhaps he should consider another line of employment.

I'm just sayin'.

Account Tracking Variations

With my Register's three-account setup, you can track pretty much any type of spending account.

Here are a few examples of how the envelope Registers could be utilized in different households:

Track Your Accounts in Various Ways...

Up to 50 Envelopes Per Register

This spreadsheet allows you to create and use up to fifty different spending "envelopes" in each Register. All deposits and withdrawals from your account are entered as transactions in one or more of these envelopes.

Each column functions as an old-fashioned envelope, holding and tracking all inflows and outflows.

Name, rename, and re-rename your envelopes to your heart's content.

Transfer money between envelopes with a few keystrokes.

It's pretty darn easy.

Can It Download Transactions From the Bank?

Uhh ... no. This is just an Excel spreadsheet.

And I am certainly not THAT proficient with Excel.

How Do I Handle Opening Balances?

Hopefully, you already have some money in your checking account. Or in a money pouch at home, or in your wallet or purse.

As an example, let's say you have $300 in your checking account, and $65 in cash in your purse. With the Deluxe Envelopes Register spreadsheet, you could use the first Register (Register #1) to track your checking, and Register #2 to track your cash spending.

Each "account" has an opening balance ($300 and $65, respectively) which you'll allocate to whatever envelopes you deem fit.

Pretend that, for the checking account, you want to put $100 in each of three envelopes: GROCERY, HOUSEHOLD, and DINING. The entries would look like so (click to enlarge):

Example 1: Allocate your Opening Balance into Envelopes

You enter "$100" in each of the columns for the envelopes, and the ACCOUNT BALANCE column totals for you.

In Register #2, in this example, you want to track your cash spending. (Think of your cash as an "account" like any other — it's just held in your hand, rather than at a bank!)

Since you have $65 cash now, and want it go toward gas for your car and lunch out next weekend, you could split it like so...

Example 2: Allocate your Opening Balance into Envelopes

...and the ACCOUNT BALANCE column shows $65, just as we need it to.

And that's how you get the Registers ready to go, opening-balance-wise. Not hard at all!

Can I Add More Registers?

Yes. And it's easy to do:

  • Right-click the tab of the worksheet you wish to copy
  • Choose "Move or Copy..."
  • Highlight "(move to end)"
  • Check the "Create a copy" checkbox
  • Click OK

And that gives you a new Register to work with. NOTE, THOUGH, that new Registers created this way will NOT show up in your Spending Report.

(Getting them to do so is a lot of work ... which I'm generally NOT willing to do. Feel free to make a backup of your spreadsheet and try it on your own, though!)

Spending Report Shows Money Flow!

What's that you say? You want to see how you're spending your money in all three accounts?

No problem! The SPENDING REPORT worksheet tallies up your spending for Registers #1, #2, and #3, across whatever dates you choose:

'Envelopes' Spending Report

Please note that if you add more Registers, the transactions in the new Registers will NOT show up in the Spending Report.

The Spending Report uses some fairly complex array formulas. Adding Registers does not update these formulas, nor can Excel automatically add any new ones. Doing this by hand — which is what's necessary — requires quite a bit of time.

However, if you're adept with Excel, feel free to unhide all the Spending Report columns and give it a shot. Just be sure to make a backup copy of your Envelopes Register first!

A Few More Pointers...

Some things to remember while you're working with the Deluxe "Envelopes" Register spreadsheet:

  • You'll enter data in white or light-beige cells only.
  • As shown above, you won't enter a single STARTING BALANCE, per se, in each account's Register. Instead, create whatever envelopes you need, and then allocate your account's current balance among the envelopes until the spreadsheet's STARTING BALANCE matches that of your bank account. (In other words, your account's balance is always the sum total of what's in your envelopes.)
  • Enter debits (outflows) as negative amounts.
  • Enter credits (inflows) as positive amounts.
  • The TRANSACTION AMOUNT and ACCOUNT BALANCE columns are completed for you automatically. Just allocate each transaction to its correct envelope(s) and the these columns take care of themselves!
  • The spreadsheet can handle up to just over 2,000 transactions in each Register. You'll be far better off, though, starting a new spreadsheet well before that. (The more transactions you have, the slower Excel's operation will become, as it recalculates all formulas every time you change something in any cell.)

Some Possible Envelope Labels

Not sure where to start with your envelopes? Here's a small starter set:

  • Groceries
  • Home
  • Debt Payments
  • Utilities
  • Automotive
  • Personal
  • Miscellaneous
  • Cushion

Remember — you've got 50 envelopes to work with in each Register. However, that doesn't mean you have to make budgeting "50 Envelopes" complicated! Some folks get by just fine on only ten or twelve envelopes.

Split-Category Transactions? Too Easy!

Let's say your latest visit to Walmart totalled up to $100. Of that, $50 went toward groceries, while $20 went toward various household items and $10 went toward miscellaneous stuff. Your Register entry would look like this:

Handling Split Transactions is a Snap! *Click to Enlarge*

Also, for another (free!) spreadsheet that's designed to help you "categorize" those big, multi-category receipts from Wal-Mart and other stores, be sure to check out my Receipt Splitter spreadsheet.

Moving Money Between Envelopes

There'll undoubtedly be times when it's necessary to move money from one envelope to another.

Happily, with my spreadsheet, this is an oh-so-simple thing to do!

Suppose Jane wants to remove $100 from her GROCERY envelope, and reallocate $40 of it to her DINING envelope and $60 of it to DEBT PAYMENTS. (She's working the Baby Steps and is gung-ho on becoming debt free!)

Here's how such a transaction would look. Notice that it has no effect on her overall checking account balance:

Transfer Between Envelopes (*Click to Enlarge*)

Jane simply entered -100 in the GROCERY column, +40 in the DINING column, and +60 in the DEBT PAYMENTS column. The net total of this transaction is zero; Jane's ACCOUNT BALANCE remains unchanged. Her Envelope Balances, though, are adjusted!

Tracking a Credit-Card Account: An Example

Consider fictional spender Rick, who's tracking his checking account (Register #1), his cash in hand (Register #2), and his Visa card (Register #3) with the Envelopes Register spreadsheet.

Before Rick "saw the light" and took up envelope budgeting, he'd built up a balance of $500 on his Visa. He wants to pay that off as soon as possible, obviously. He's not going to stop using his card, however.

Instead, he will be paying for all new purchases when he gets his statements — plus, with each monthly payment, he will put additional cash toward his $500 debt paydown. (Maybe there's hope for him yet!)

Week 1

At the end of Week 1, Rick had started his Envelope Register. He created envelopes for the spending he expects to do with the Visa, one of which he names PRIOR DEBT (for his -500 balance), and another which he names INTEREST, since he knows he will be carrying a balance for at least another few months. During this week, he also added two new Visa transactions. Here's how he tracked this in his Register:

Credit Card Tracking - Week 1 (*Click to Enlarge*)

His opening balance consists merely of one entry, dated 12-31-09, for -500. This went in his PRIOR DEBT envelope.

After that, he used his card at Target on January 2, and then again two days later at Barnes & Noble. He split these transactions among the applicable envelopes as necessary.

Week 2

In Week 2, a few more items were entered. Rick used his card at McDonald's, for starters. The end of the billing period came on January 12, and so interest charges of -9.96 accrued on his balance on that date.

He then made the month's payment on January 15, in the amount of 208.52. (That amount included all new purchases, plus interest, plus another $100 toward his previous PRIOR DEBT envelope.)

Click this image to see it in practice (and note that we treat interest as an expense like any other!):

Credit Card Tracking - Week 2 (*Click to Enlarge*)

Rick paid for all his new transactions, plus interest, plus $100 toward his PRIOR DEBT, so his Visa account balance is now -$400.

So remember: In credit-card accounts, just as in other spending accounts, prior balances, new spending, and any interest charges or fees should all be entered as negative numbers. Payments toward the card's balance, and any refunds, are entered as positive numbers. (Transactions marked as type "Refund" will tabulate in your Spending Report worksheet; your normal monthly payments will not.)

Best Practices

Keep a "Cushion" envelope. "Cushion," in this case, means keeping a little extra money in your checking account just in case you forget to enter a small transaction or two at some point. We don't want any of those yucky overdraft fees, do we?

Keep a "Miscellaneous" envelope. Hey — stuff happens. But you want it to be small stuff. The bigger things should be handled by your Emergency Fund.

Got interest? If you're doing much saving in your checking account, please consider using an interest-bearing checking account like Capital One's 360 Checking. Every dollar adds up.

Want Other Check Register Spreadsheets?

If you're more in the mood for a standard check-register spreadsheet, you can grab one at my free Check Register page. Additionally, I have a more-functional Check Register w/Sorting Macros and Reconcile. It's not free, but it's not far off!

Ready to Purchase?


Purchase & Download


Downloading the Deluxe "Envelopes" Register spreadsheet couldn't be easier! Simply pay with PayPal, and then download the Check Register instantly! (Credit/debit cards work great; no sign-up required.)

Price: $11.95
Such a deal!

Via Paypal:

Whether you're new to envelope budgeting, or you've been doing it for years, I'm quite sure you'll find my Deluxe "Envelopes" Register spreadsheet to be an amazingly helpful tool.

Once your payment is complete, you'll be redirected back to this site for immediate download of the spreadsheet file. As a backup measure, you should also receive an email from the payment system with a link from which you can download the file. (So make sure the email address you use is correct!)

Remember, please, that if you find this spreadsheet to fall short of your expectations in some way, you can always contact me within 30 days of purchase for a full refund. (I won't be mean about it, either. I promise!)

I currently accept payment through Paypal. They will accept credit/debit cards if you wish to go that route.

NOTE: Users of Paypal "eChecks" will not be able to download the spreadsheet until their funds clear into my Paypal account; this often takes 3-5 business days.

Questions? Comments? Contact Me!

Got a question or issue? Don't hesitate — drop me a line. I'll get back to you as soon as possible!

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Purchase & Download


Downloading the Deluxe "Envelopes" Register spreadsheet couldn't be easier! Simply pay with PayPal, and then download the Check Register instantly! (Credit/debit cards work great; no sign-up required.)

Price: $11.95
Such a deal!

Via Paypal: