If you have worked in any kind of office environment then chances are you will have come across Microsoft Office. If you have not then you may still have used it in some areas at work. Although Office is invaluable in a workplace environment, it is a myth that its usefulness ends there. The latest version has been made very intuitively, with the user in mind so it is easy to learn and very user friendly. This means you can learn the basics and expand your knowledge with experience.

Of course that’s easy to say for someone who has used Office extensively! But where would you begin to make it work for you at home? The simplest place to start is by using Microsoft Excel as a way of organising your monthly budget. All of us have a certain amount of money coming in and a certain amount of expenditure going out such as monthly utility bills and groceries. It can be difficult to keep track of exactly where you money is going since there are usually many little expenditures that soon mount up. This makes it extremely difficult to plan your finances. Millions of people in the UK are in debt and struggling financially. The first step to taking control and changing your situation is to gain an understanding of your finances. Excel is the perfect tool for this purpose.

Once you have access to Excel, you can begin with a simple spreadsheet. Do not attempt to make things complicated at first or you will lose interest and become overwhelmed. Think of the spread sheet as a snapshot of your financial life for one month. Pick the previous month as a guide so you can look at all your receipts. Use just three columns. In the first column write all the money that comes into the household. That includes everything such as any salary, benefits or anything that is regularly adding money to your budget. In the second column write the values. We write the values in a separate column so that we can add and subtract the values to get the total.

In the first column type everything that goes out of your house each month. This can be for groceries, rent, mortgage, utilities, nursery bills, clubs, entertainment and literally anything. Don’t be shy and hide things, only you need see it, but it must be a realistic picture! In the third column type the values. Now comes some simple maths! At the bottom of the second column in order to make the total money coming in, type the following:


At the bottom of the third column type the following:


You should now be looking at two figures. If the figure in the second column is higher, then you have more money coming into your house than you have going out. If the second column figure is lower, then you are basically spending more than you earn. It is now time to take a closer look at the list to see where you are spending all your money and what you could change.

This is a very simple way of using Excel for budgeting, but it will work for the beginner. On the internet there are plenty of Excel examples on more detailed budgeting once you are feeling more confident.

Microsoft Office is not limited to financial tasks. Other packages can be used for other household projects. There are many tutorials available online to demonstrate Microsoft Project. Have you ever decided to do some home improvement? What is involved in designing and installing a new kitchen for example? How much will it cost? How much time will it take? Many people will simply run down to a DIY store and start grabbing things off the shelves. Half the job gets done and things are massively over budget so cannot be finished properly. Microsoft Project will allow you to enter each step of the process with time and budget constraints, allowing the user to feel completely in control of the project. At least if you know what’s coming, you can save up for it and be realistic.

Another package I use frequently at home is Microsoft PowerPoint. I’m a housewife! Who am I making presentations for? The answer is of course my children! My child loves to learn so I created a presentation for them which included all the shapes. They love to flick through it and tell me the names of the shapes and it also encourages the children with their computer skills.

Parents need to be creative these days and resources can be very expensive. Using Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Word as tools to create your own resources is a much cheaper option and you can personalise things very easily. If the child is happy to look at some things directly on the screen then it will save money and paper on the printing. We used Microsoft Word to create a personalised book with pictures for my child which he loves reading as part of his bed time routine. He is interested because it is a book all about him!

Obviously it is too wide and varied a subject to detail in one article, but hopefully I have demonstrated that Microsoft Office have many tools which the average person can use to their advantage within a home environment. My advice is always to start with the basics and go from there.