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Set a Budget Limit With Data Validation

In this article, I will show you how to set up data validation to enforce a budget limit in your Excel budget workbook.

The Setup

Let’s say you have the following setup for your budget workbook.

The budget total is at the top, and your categories are below. You can edit the budget amounts freely, and the budget total calculates automatically.

The Goal

The goal is to add data validation to prevent the budget total from surpassing a specified amount.

For example, let’s say you want the budget total to stay under 100.

Add Data Validation

To prevent the budget total from surpassing 100, you want to add data validation to the budget amounts. That’s because these are the numbers that contribute to the budget total.

So start by selecting the range of budget amounts. Then go to Data Data Validation.

Under Allow, select Custom.

Then enter the following formula.


Formula Explanation

The data validation formula looks at the budget total and evaluates to TRUE as long as the total does not surpass 100.

If the total surpasses 100, then the formula evaluates to FALSE. The data validation will kick in, preventing the data entry that causes the total to go over 100.

Customize the Error Message

Follow the steps below to customize the error message displayed whenever the budget total surpasses 100.

Click on the Error Alert tab in the data validation dialog box. Type in a custom title and input message. Then click on Ok.


Now, when the user adds any budget amount causing the budget total to surpass the limit of 100, Excel prevents the data entry and displays the error message.

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