Advanced users of Excel often cannot understand or comprehend why more people aren't using it for more complex tasks. Most spreadsheet software can do more than you'd probably be able to imagine, and Excel is no exception. People will spend several hundred pounds on software and perhaps use 10-20% of its features. Do they just like wasting money? Of course not. It's either because they have never been trained up to intermediate or advanced level, or were just unaware exactly what you can make Excel do for you.

Think about the most frequent tasks you use Excel for. Making charts, doing simple functions, and keeping records. If this is all you do - you might be missing out!

Many users don't manipulate the program itself while they're working with it, for example. If you've never used multiple worksheets, then you might be stuck with one, huge one to work with. Fair enough, if that's all you need - but how about adjusting the panes, hiding columns you don't need, or zooming in on those you do? If you have more than one workbook, you can link them together (and have "three dimensional" formulas that work with data across different sheets). It sounds complex, but it really isn't.

A frequent use of Excel is making lists of things - whether it's payments, customer details, your own income and expenditure. With a slightly more advanced skillset you can apply filters to your lists (for example, looking at every month where you worked overtime, on a wage spreadsheet), or autofiltering (removing the tax so you can just look at how much National Insurance you were charged, for example).

Let's say you're collaborating with a colleague on a big spreadsheet. After a muddle of sticky notes, crossed wires and "who put that formula in THAT cell?" arguments, it's probably time to use Excel's "comments" feature, or if you really want security against someone mistyping and making the calculations go haywire: protecting your worksheet or cells so that alterations can't be made by anyone if they're not named as an administrator of the document. If they did mess up, of course, there's another tool you can use to trace formula errors.

If you're feeling very confident or are having advanced training in Excel, you can start using pivot tables to manipulate the data you already have, or using logical functions that "think ahead" to what the end result is and manipulate the data accordingly as they go. For example, You can state that if your income went over the threshold of £18,000 a year, you can create a logical function that would take into account that it would trigger your student loan deductions. This is a simple example of a complex tool that can be really useful for big number crunching.

These are just some examples of the way Excel can be used, usefully, for your own gain. All you need to know is that the functions are there to use. Now you've learned about a few of them - start putting them into practise, and of course - get your money's worth!