There are lots of sites that offer Excel exercises that will show you the basics of spreadsheets, but you need to know how to use this in real life. You can select from class after class that will teach you all the functions and formulas you can choose from in Excel, so these exercises focus on real-world applications of those skills.
Create a Budget
The number one Excel exercise has to be creating a budget. However, you can make this useful by creating it for yourself, or your family. At its core, a budget is quite simple. You add up all your income in one column and all your expenses in another. Then you subtract your expenses from your income and try to avoid coming up with a negative number. Once you have this setup, you can get creative by adding formulas to tally your income and expenses over a number of weeks or months. This is great for vacations and other short-term living situation. From there, you can add conditional formatting that will turn cells red if you are spending too much on a specific category or if you will have a negative balance. Think of all the things you learn in an Excel class, like Learn Microsoft Excel 2010 Advanced Course, and try to implement them on your budget spreadsheet.
The next time you’re shopping for something online, create a spreadsheet to compare different retailers, products, and shipping costs. Beyond listing the product names and cost, break down the price into an amount per unit to create an accurate comparison. For example, you could calculate the cost of a new hard drive at a rate of dollars per terabyte of storage.
Calculate Your MPG
Very few people know the real mileage they get out of a gallon of gasoline in their vehicle. Why not create a spreadsheet which will calculate your vehicle’s mileage? Not only will this help you learn to use Excel, it’s also a great way to keep an eye on the performance of your vehicle before any problems turn into major repairs. You can begin this Excel exercise simply by entering your mileage every time you fill your tank. You will also need to record how much gas you put in you vehicle during each fill up. Since there may be different amounts of gas remaining in your tank when you fill up, you will need several weeks of data to get a good average. Typically, you will want to record this data in a notebook that you can keep in your glove box. Once the spreadsheet is created, you can use this notebook to enter your date into the computer every week or two. The basic calculation for your MPG is:
( current mileage – last fill up mileage ) / gallons
This is an easy formula to setup in Excel, but you can also extend this spreadsheet further. To make this project a little more complicated and much more useful, you can also track the type of fuel used, the brand of gas station, and the price per gallon. Using this data, you can calculate your cost per mile traveled. Additionally, you can use logical statements to determine if you get better mileage with premium or regular, and you can calculate your cost per mile traveled with each type of gas. You can also calculate which brand of gas offers the best mileage for your vehicle. Let your imagination run with this exercise and you’re sure to find other data to track for your vehicle.
Track Your Time
We all spend time working on a range of projects. Some are performed for pay, some are just a part of daily life, and others receive our attention simply because we enjoy the activity. One great Excel exercise is to create a time clock that will track how much time you spend on different activities. This can be a very simple project or it can be quite complex. After you get your spreadsheet to calculate the time you spend on a project based on the time you clock-in and the time you clock-out, why not add a task code. This way you can differentiate between time you spend cleaning, shopping, or watching TV. Then you can use logical statements to tally your TV watching time as a percentage of the total time spent on all tasks over a given week. You see, this simple exercise can become very difficult as you add layers of complexity. It’s a great way to put lessons from an Excel class, like Microsoft Excel 2010 Beginners/ Intermediate Course, into practice and lock them into memory.