Note: this post was originally posted 07/16/20 and was updated with minor edits 04/16/21
Microsoft was an early player in personal finance, creating the popular Microsoft Money software in 1991 to compete with Quicken.
After Microsoft Money was mothballed in 2009, there was a hole in Microsoft’s personal finance portfolio. This year, Microsoft is filling that hole with its new Money in Excel service.
Microsoft says Money for Excel is a “template and add-in for Excel that allows you to securely connect your bank, credit card, investment, and loan accounts to Excel and automatically import your transaction and account information into an Excel spreadsheet.”
How Money in Excel Works
Everything is managed via the Money in Excel add-in
Everything you need with Money in Excel can be accessed and managed via the Money in Excel add-in.
Use it to link bank accounts, choose which accounts you want to feed into your spreadsheet, and trigger manual updates.
Money in Excel uses Plaid to connect to banks
Plaid links to about 11,000 global financial institutions (though only US institutions are currently supported by Money in Excel).
Getting data into your workbook
To update data in your workbook, you’ll need to open your Excel spreadsheet and click “Update” to move those transactions from Microsoft’s database into your spreadsheet.
In our experience, Plaid updates new balances and transactions from your linked banks about once a day.
Who can use Money in Excel
Microsoft’s new service is available for US-based customers with a current Microsoft 365 subscription (recently renamed from Office 365).
Money in Excel Pricing
Money for Excel is available to Microsoft 365 Family ($100 per year) and Microsoft 365 Personal ($70 per year) subscribers.
Money in Excel is not available to Office Home & Student 2019, nor is it available to business subscribers with Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, Microsoft 365 Business Premium, nor Microsoft 365 Apps subscriptions. Likewise, older versions of Excel desktop aren’t supported.
In our experience, we were not able to get Money in Excel working with the browser-based version of Excel, but we did find success with the desktop version of Excel (again, presuming it’s current and part of a Microsoft 365 Family or Microsoft 365 Personal subscription).
What if you have an Office subscription from work?
It won’t support Money in Excel, but you can purchase an additional Microsoft 365 Family or Microsoft 365 Personal subscription and run both on your computer.
Money in Excel includes two workflow sheets
The NetWorth template inserts a worksheet with a list of all your accounts.
Note: You can’t rename accounts or re-organize them other than sort them, but in total this report provides a way to see account balances and it also provides totals for all assets and all liabilities if you want to see your net worth.
The RecurringExpenses template highlights transactions Microsoft thinks are recurring.
Money in Excel doesn’t include a budget template
However, being Excel, you can build new reports based on the data Money in Excel pulls into the Transactions and NetWorth worksheets.
Five default sheets are included with the Money in Excel template
- Welcome worksheet
- Instructions sheet
- Snapshot sheet
- Transactions sheet
- Categories sheet
After you get going, you won’t need the Welcome nor Instructions sheets.
The Snapshot provides a quick overview of activity for the month. You can change the month, but otherwise these reports are preset.
Microsoft requires 18 default categories
The core value occurs on the Transactions and Categories worksheets.
Within the Categories sheet, you can create new categories that supplement the 18 required categories that come with Money in Excel. You cannot delete or modify these 18 categories because every transaction that is fed into your spreadsheet comes with one of these categories pre-assigned based on Microsoft and Plaid’s best guess at the right category.
In our experience, some of these are helpful (Verizon is categorized as “Bills/Utilities”), others are missing (our Thriftway grocery store chain is categorized as “Uncategorized”), and others are frustrating (You Can Book Me is a business calendar booking tool, and it’s categorized as Restaurant/Dining).
The Transactions sheet is where all transactions come when you manually click “Update”. If you want to build reports on your spending, you’ll build them off of the data on this page.
You can modify the Merchant name if you want to revise or edit a transaction. You can also change the category manually when a transaction is miscategorized. You cannot otherwise modify the transactions sheet. You cannot split a transaction. The worksheet is mostly locked.
Money in Excel isn’t the only game in town.
Tiller Money’s Founder Peter Polson on Money in Excel
“This is a huge validation for the uninitiated that spreadsheets are an amazing way to manage money. Not a fringe solution, but with Microsoft’s endorsement it’s a very mainstream solution. (Of course you already knew spreadsheets were great – but many people still don’t.)”
“I smile because my job working on Microsoft Money in 1994 was the seed crystal that started Tiller Money. By 2015 or so, I was wondering… ‘why hasn’t the state of the art for personal finance evolved much since Microsoft Money circa 1994?’ With that we created Tiller Money. So, welcome back Microsoft!”
“Our team is fired up with the founding mission that got us here. We want to empower people with great personal finance solution in their spreadsheets, great templates, a dynamic community, and a business that promotes the privacy and security of our customers’ data. All of this is in service to giving our customers more control over their money, their lives, and their futures.”
“As a company, we are always excited to see spreadsheet-based innovations for tracking personal finance. It’s an exciting time for fintech and personal finance enthusiasts.”
Money in Excel FAQ
Join the conversation about Money in Excel in the Tiller Money Community.