How to Use a Pie Graph for Budgeting Bills

by Kathryn Hatter, Demand Media
    A pie chart can help you visualize your monthly budget.

    A pie chart can help you visualize your monthly budget.

    A budget is the answer when you need to make sure your income covers all your monthly expenses. Although a spreadsheet might work for some people, a visual chart can make it easy to see and understand your budget. Use a pie graph for budgeting bills -- you’ll be able to figure your finances at a glance and keep everything organized. In fact, if you have Microsoft Excel, it’s a simple process to make a budgeting pie chart.

    Items you will need

    • Calculator
    • Paper
    • Compass
    • Protractor
    • Colored pencils
    • Microsoft Excel (optional)

    Gather the Data

    Step 1

    Collect all your bills together for one month. Make a list of the bills, with the amount of each bill noted. If you have bills with minimum payments, such as credit cards, list the amount you plan to pay if it is more than the minimum amount.

    Step 2

    Note the amount of money you wish to save during a one-month period. Adding this money into your monthly budget helps ensure that you save regularly.

    Step 3

    Add your total income for one month, and note this total. This total will represent the entire pie graph.

    Step 4

    Determine what percentage each bill will be of the pie graph. Calculate these percentages by dividing each bill amount by your total income. For example, if your mortgage payment is $825 and your total income is $5,000, divide 825 by 5,000 to equal 16.5 percent. This means the mortgage portion of the pie graph must be 16.5 percent of the circle.

    Draw a Graph

    Step 1

    Draw a circle on paper, making it about 6 inches in diameter. Use a compass or trace a plate to make a circle. Make a dot at the center point of the circle and draw a radial line from the center out to the outer edge of the circle -- the location of the line does not matter.

    Step 2

    Convert each bill percent to an angle to create the wedges for the graph. For example, if your mortgage is 16.5 percent, convert the percent to an angle by multiplying .165 by 360 (the degrees in a circle). The answer is the degrees of the wedge you must create -- 59.4 in this example. If your credit card bills equal 10 percent of your income, multiply .1 by 360 to equal 36 -- this wedge must be 36 degrees.

    Step 3

    Make wedges to equal each bill. Position the protractor on the radial line you drew and measure the first degree wedge -- 59.4 using the mortgage example. Make a mark at the outer edge of the circle at this point and draw a line between the mark and the center point of the circle. Label the wedge. Position the protractor on the last line you drew and measure the next degree wedge -- 36 using the credit card bill example. Make another mark at the outer edge of the circle at this point and draw another line. Label the wedge again. Continue measuring, marking and drawing the wedges until you fill the entire pie graph.

    Step 4

    Shade each wedge a different color to further differentiate the wedges of the graph and make it easier to read.

    Microsoft Excel

    Step 1

    Open Microsoft Excel.

    Step 2

    Click your mouse once in the first cell of column A. Enter the name of your first bill in this cell (if you need a larger cell for a longer entry, drag column A to the right with your mouse). Enter each bill in separate cells in column A.

    Step 3

    Click your mouse once in the first cell of column B. Enter the amount of the first bill in this cell. Enter each bill amount in the corresponding cells in column B.

    Step 4

    Select all cells with data in columns A and B by holding the left mouse button and dragging from the upper left corner to the lower right corner.

    Step 5

    Click the “Insert” tab, then select “Pie” from the “Charts” section. Select the type of chart you desire from the dropdown menu that appears -- choose between several 2-D and 3-D charts. The pie graph will appear with each bill represented as a color-coded separate wedge of the graph.

    Step 6

    Click the “Layout” tab within the “Chart Tools” section. Select “Data Labels” to add labels to each wedge -- select the style of labels you desire by clicking your choice from the dropdown menu that appears. Your pie graph labels will appear instantly from the cells in column A.

    About the Author

    Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator and regular contributor to "Natural News." She is an accomplished gardener, seamstress, quilter, crocheter, painter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator and she enjoys technical and computer gadgets. Hatter's Internet publications specialize in natural health and she plans to continue her formal education in the health field, focusing on nursing.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images