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Managing business expenses on the go

Business Expense Templates to Save Time (and Money)

Brink's Money

20 Oct 2021

Understanding your business expenses is critical to the success of your company. You need a solid budgeting process and expense management policies to keep your expenses under control, while still being flexible enough to adapt to changing business needs. 

Using spreadsheets is a common and affordable way to get started. We’ve included a few simple Excel spreadsheet templates below that can help if you’re just starting out to get your business expenses under control. We’ll discuss how these templates work, how you can make your own, and how a more automated solution can help once you’ve outgrown them.

Business Budgeting Templates

Developing a sustainable budgeting practice is a key step for any organization. The templates below are a great way to get started with expense analysis and budgeting.

Business Expenses Budget

Microsoft’s business expenses budget template can be used to get a comprehensive look at your business expenses. This template allows you to enter your planned and actual expenses in the first two tabs. In each tab, there’s a row for each expense category and a column for each month of the year. It comes pre-filled with some suggested expense categories, but you’ll want to customize these categories for the needs of your business. 

Once the planned expenses and actual expenses tabs are filled in, the template will automatically calculate the expense variances to compare the two. In the expense variances tab, you’ll be able to see how much you over-spent or under-spent in each expense category during each month. Finally, the template includes an expenses analysis tab that contains graphs that help you visualize how your planned and actual expenses compare.

Expense Trends Budget

The expense trends budget template offers a different approach. It doesn’t compare planned and actual expenses, but you can use either one depending on whether you’re analyzing past expenses or budgeting for the future. This Excel sheet adds more visualizations, including bar charts comparing the various expense categories for each month and line charts showing the trend for each category over the year.

This template doesn’t come with pre-filled expense categories, which may be a benefit if your business requires a lot of customization. It might also be a good template to choose if you’re getting started with budgeting by analyzing past expenses before planning your expenses for the next period. 

Expense Report Templates

In addition to your budgeting and expense analysis, you also need a way for your employees to report their business expenses to you. That’s where expense reports come in. 

The business expense report and blue expense report templates both follow a similar approach to calculating expenses across common business expense categories such as mileage, lodging and meals. There are slight changes between the two templates, so choose the one that fits your business best.

How to Create Your Own

If the templates above don’t fit your business needs, you can always make your own. Here are a few steps you can use to start to analyze your expenses:

  1. List your expenses. Import all your business expenses for the period you’d like to analyze into a spreadsheet. Most banks offer an easy way to export transactions to a .csv file, which you can import directly into Excel.

  2. Organize your expenses into categories. In a new column, go through each expense and group them into categories. Common expense categories include rent, utilities, labor, and marketing costs, among others. You can make these categories more specific or more general to fit your needs.

  3. Analyze the data. Now that your expenses are categorized, there are many ways to analyze them. Look at the budgeting templates in this article for inspiration. You can separate them by month to track individual categories or your total expenses across time. You can also use formulas to calculate totals and charts to visualize trends. 

Creating an expense report template is a bit more straightforward. At a minimum, you’ll want to include:

  • Employee contact information

  • Expense date

  • Type of expense (meals, lodging, mileage, etc.)

  • Amount

  • Total expenses

  • Amount due to employee

Again, the expense report templates in this article can provide examples for how to organize and calculate this information.

When Spreadsheets Won’t Cut It

If this sounds like a lot of work, you’re right. Manually collecting expense reports and analyzing your expenses requires a lot of your valuable time. While these spreadsheet templates can help you perform some basic calculations, they require a lot of manual data entry. As a business owner, your time might be too valuable for these extra steps. In addition, a manual process exposes your business to more risk from human error.

Luckily, there are online professional expense management tools that can automate this extra work, reduce risk, and lift the stress from your shoulders. With a solution like Brink’s Business Expense, you can automate your expense reporting, get instant expense reconciliation, and eliminate the inaccuracies that come from a manual spreadsheet-driven process. 

Spreadsheets templates may help you up to a certain point, but when you’re ready to step up to a modern expense management platform, the Brink’s Money team is here to help.


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