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Budget proposal template for Excel & Google Sheets

Plan your business budget easily, and track company spending as you go. Set out your annual budget, monitor cost centres, and make sure every project budget plays out as intended.

How to use this budget proposal template

This budget proposal template is easy to use in Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Numbers. Just follow these simple steps: 

  1. Download the proposal template and open in your preferred platform.

  2. Review the example cost centres (team budgets). Update the tabs to match your business, and simply duplicate tabs to add new cost centres.

  3. Add each new project proposal into its cost centre. List the supplier name, the unit cost and total cost, and whether it's an ongoing expense or a one-off project.

  4. Add the previous year's spending in the Annual Budget tab. This gives you a baseline or benchmark for this year's budget. 

  5. Share the template with budget managers and have them set out their proposed costs for at least the next quarter, if not the full year. 

  6. Update the "Projected" columns in the Annual Budget tracker for each cost centre. This shows you the total budget plan and expenditures for the whole business.

  7. Each month, update the Projected and Actual spend for each cost centre. This is the most reliable way to ensure that company spend stays on track. 

  8. Share with key stakeholders regularly, and allow room for feedback and suggestions. The best budgets are build on a, based on real-time data and lots of input from team members with hands-on knowledge of the costs involved. 

You'll also find some budget proposal samples to work with, to show you and your team how to present a clear business proposal. 

What are cost centres?

This Excel budget template includes separate tabs for each cost centre. Also known as expense categories, these are your different department budgets or types of spend. 

In our free budget proposal template, the pre-filled budget categories include: 

  • Payroll and HR (team members' salaries, perks, and consultants' fees)

  • Travel and entertainment (client visits, conferences and events)

  • Operational (legal, taxes, and talent acquisition)

  • Office (administrative costs, utilities, and training)

  • IT (software subscriptions, apps, and tools)

  • Product (development, R&D, and ongoing running costs)

  • Marketing and advertising (paid marketing, print and television advertising, events, and more)

You should add any other cost centres specifically relevant to your business. These might be direct costs (materials and supply chain concerns), or other indirect costs not included above.

Build budgets into your company processes

Most companies still rely on Excel spreadsheets and email chains to track budgets. These work well for small businesses, but they don't scale. As the company grows, you quickly find tracking project activities in Excel or Google Docs to be slow and painful. 

Modern spend management tools let you build in budgets and track them against every transaction automatically. Put simply, every company card payment or expense claim is matched to the right team member, their budget, and approving manager instantly. 

You no longer have to spend hours updating spreadsheets and hassling project managers for expenses. Your dashboards are always up to date, with all important documents attached.

You also have approval workflows to ensure all spending is valid, simple budget overviews for non-financial staff, and a full audit trail should you need to dig deeper.

Learn more about spend management

4 keys to more strategic budgeting

Budgets are a vital business tool. But if you don't use them strategically, they fall out of date and become basically worthless. 

Here are four key considerations to make your budgeting more strategic, and more successful. 

Practice "bottom-up budgeting"

As explained briefly above, you should craft and maintain business budgets based on real-world data as much as possible. Known as bottom-up budgeting, this technique is so successful because it takes the guesswork out of the budgeting process. 

The opposite - top-down budgeting - is perhaps more straightforward. With this method, the executive leadership simply assigns budgets to each department based on their best guesses or previous expertise. But this ignores the experience and skills within teams.

Strategic budget leaders use historical company data and input from other stakeholders to build and update spending plans.

Expect the unexpected

No budget plan ever gets followed to the cent. Despite the best intentions and rigorous planning, there are always extra costs and over-spend you can't see coming. 

But you can mitigate the impact of these surprises in two ways: 

  1. Track your budgets in real time as much as possible. At the very least update your trackers once per month. But ideally, use that updates as you spend.

  2. Set aside a slush fund. Ideally, do this for each cost centre, and give your budget managers guidelines on when these extra funds can be used. 

And even with both of these steps in place, you'll still find unexpected costs from time to time. 

Review budgets often

This is on top of tracking spend in real time. You should also talk with project managers to ensure that they too are tracking costs closely, choosing cost-effective suppliers, and avoiding any painful errors. 

Treat your budgets as collaborative documents requiring a wide range of viewpoints. Together, as a business, you can keep company costs in check and work efficiently as the company grows. 

Get help from smart tools

We've already explained the value of spend management software in the budgeting process. Just think of the impactful, value-adding work you can do once you stop chasing credit card receipts and checking Excel spreadsheets. 

There is lots of great budget automation software available, ready to make your finance team's life easier. And the same goes for your travelling employees - the sooner they can get off expense reports and onto employee business cards, the happier they'll be. 

Talk to our team to learn how Spendesk frees employees from every department to do their best work.