P&L Budget vs. Actuals Financial Planning Template

Get an overview of your Profit & Loss and Budget vs. Actuals with this Free Excel & Google Sheets Template.

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P&L Budget vs. Actuals Financial Planning Template
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Learn how to set up this template in the video below

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How to get started with the template?

Inside the template for accountants and CFOs, you’ll find 5 different sheets. Here’s what they are about.

  1. How to use this model
  2. Summary Dashboard
  3. Budget vs. Actuals Financial Plan
  4. Live P&L from QuickBooks
  5. Tips and Tricks

1 - How to use this model

How to Guide

Over here, you will always find all the information about using the template, and how to contact us if there are any questions or feedback.

2 - Summary Dashboard

Financial Dashboard

This sheet is a dashboard that aggregates all of the information you input in the Financial Plan sheet.  It will automatically update itself with any changes, so there's no need to rescan or re-input anything in the Summary Dashboard (unless you want to change it to your preferences, of course). All data has been linked together using functions from the Financial Plan sheet.

The dashboard itself gives you an easy-to-understand overview of your key metrics such as your Runway, your projected Cash Balance, your burn rate, and your revenue.

You might want even go further by inputting more data yourself into these graphs, so nothing gets missed when tracking things down in one place.

3 - Budget vs. Actuals Financial Plan

P&L Budget vs. Actuals | Financial Plan

Here, all you’ll need to do is manually input all of your budget numbers to match your own financial plans. The rest of the sheet (i.e. the values of the actuals and the accounts) will update itself with data pulled from the "Live P&L from QuickBooks" sheet.

Your account names will be automatically pulled from the list of accounts that you have in your P&L, so you won't need to worry about updating these manually. Your Actuals column, which appears underneath each month, will also be automatically pulled from the data that you imported into the "Live P&L from QuickBooks" sheet.

This budget vs. actuals comparison will help you to evaluate how on or off-target you were in the preceding month(s). It is a great way to maintain a simple overview of your business stands relative to your plan.

4 - Live P&L from QuickBooks

Live P&L pulled from QuickBooks

This sheet will pull your P&L report with real-time data for your company from QuickBooks and then feed the information into the "Budget vs. Actuals Financial Plan" and the "Summary Dashboard" sheets. In order to do this, you will need to make sure that you have LiveFlow installed in your extensions (you can find the app in the Google Marketplace).

Once you have LiveFlow installed, you will be able to open LiveFlow in the "Extensions" dropdown and select "Manage Reports." You can then change your company to be your own company and select "Update and Refresh Report" to change it to your own company data.

Your company's P&L will then be pulled into this sheet and updated in real-time. No need for any more manual dashboards.

5 - Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks

This is a dynamic document that we continue to grow and evolve as we add new tips and tricks for making your Financial Plan work even better. It also offers insights into the strategies we found most helpful when it comes to managing our finances - all in an attempt for us both to succeed!

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How To Manage Your Financials Like a Pro - A Step-By-Step guide to understanding Budget vs. Actuals

Introduction to P&L - Budget vs. Actuals

How do you make sure you don’t overspend? 

How do you know if you’re on track to hit your most crucial business KPIs?

How do you know if you’re running out of cash earlier than you expected?

All of these are questions that good financial reporting and, more importantly, close monitoring of your Budget vs. Actuals can help you answer. 

But what is a Budget vs. Actuals report really about? And why should you care?

Well, given that you’re spending what ought to be possibly your most important asset, your time, on glancing through this post, I’m guessing that you’re interested in running your business well, driving value to your customers, and growing your company. 

Am I right?

Ok, let’s get to it. 

Here’s what we’ll cover in this post: 

And before we do, a quick note, reading it line by line should take you about 15 minutes, so if you’re one of those who love to dive deep into things, then prep a quick coffee, and you’ll be ready to rock through this post together.

Reading on the go? No problem, we’ve made a bunch of bold headlines below that’ll help you skim through the content fast and quickly. 

Table of contents:

  • What is Budget vs. Actuals
  • Why is it crucial to monitor your Budget vs. Actuals
  • What is a variance?
  • How do you analyze Budget vs. Actuals
  • 5 hacks to manage Financial Reporting, Profit & Loss, and Budget vs. Actuals like a seasoned finance professional
  • Conclusion

What is Budget vs. Actuals?

Budget vs. Actuals is precisely what the words entail. Let’s break it down:

  • A budget details how much revenue you’re planning to earn, how much cash you’re planning on spending, and how much profit you will generate.

  • Actuals are the actual numbers that your business has generated, whereas the budget is the numbers that your business planned on generating. 

Makes sense? 

Alright, let’s take a look at why it’s vital to manage your budget vs. actuals. 

Why is it crucial to monitor your Budget vs. Actuals?

If we’re blunt, good monitoring of your budget vs. actuals can make or break your company. 

No joke. 

If you run out of cash or overspend compared to your budget and do so without adequately tracking where you’re at, the chance of you running out of money is high, and we wouldn’t want that to happen, would we?

That’s why monitoring your budget vs. actuals closely shouldn’t just be a prerequisite for anyone running a business; it’s one of the most valuable financial reports to help you assess your overall company health and performance. 

Here are 4 additional benefits of managing your budget vs. actuals:

  1. You will be able to make crucial decisions on where to allocate your money
  2. You will be in control of your business and not leave things to chance
  3. You will be less likely to suddenly run out of money, especially with unforeseen events happening in the world right now, such as Covid
  4. Your investors, partners, and family will trust you in running your business

Alright, I hope you’re with us on the importance of sound financial management and how proper management of your Budget vs. Actuals and P&L can help you and your business succeed. 

Let’s dig a bit deeper in, shall we?

What is a variance?

In finance in general, and especially in Budget vs. Actuals, you very often will come across a word called Variance - and variance is a handy metric to analyze your numbers in greater detail, and understand where you might have fallen short, and where you might have overperformed (obviously, we should always aim for the latter). 

Variance is the difference between your budget and your actuals. 

Here’s a quick example:

  • Let’s imagine you budgeted to generate $100,000 in income in January 2022. 
  • Now your actuals came in, and you only generated $80,000 in income that month. 
  • Now, your variance is -$20,000 ($100,000 - $80,000), or in percentages, you fell 20% short of what you planned. 

See how looking at your variance proves helpful? 

Let’s take a quick breather, to reflect; how are you getting along with the reading? 

What have you learned so far? 

How can good financial management and solid Budget vs. Actuals monitoring help your business grow? 

Which processes do you need to implement to improve the accuracy of your financial reporting?

How do you communicate and get buy-in from your team on the importance of good financial reporting?

Alright, ready to propel to the next stage? Let’s do it.

How do you analyze Budget vs. Actuals?

What should my KPIs be?

The most optimal measure of success for your Budget vs. Actuals is how accurate you are - in other words - if you planned on spending $100,000, how close to that figure are you, and ideally, your targeted variance percentage should therefore be 0%. 

Why? Because if you hit 0% variance, it means that you were 100% accurate in terms of what you planned vs. what you achieved. 

Now, of course, take this with a grain of salt. If you planned on generating $200,000 in revenue but generated $400,000 and therefore had a variance percentage of 100%, that’d be pretty good! 

Similarly, if you planned on spending $50,000 on marketing but ended up spending $100,000 because things were going super well and, as a result, you generated more revenue, that wouldn’t be so bad either, right?

The point is: Put your variance and KPIs into your business context. 

How do I know I’m on track to hit my goals?

Making instant decisions and changes to your business plan is advantageous in today’s business environment, where competition is fierce, and you need to be proactive rather than reactive. 

Therefore, having the infrastructure to make updates to your budget and monitor your actual spending in real-time can help you tremendously.

One way of doing that is by using LiveFlow’s Google Sheets Add-On to help you connect your actuals into your budget in just a few clicks. 

The best part?

When you want your actuals to update, just hit refresh, and everything will be up-to-date. No more import/export of multiple CSV files with outdated data. 

With LiveFlow, you can monitor your Budget vs. Actuals report in real-time and get a significant advantage when it comes to managing your finances as the best companies do. 

For instance, if you planned to spend $10,000 on travel and halfway through the month, you realize you’ve already spent $8,000. 

Without a real-time actuals overview, noticing that spending was going out of hand would be merely impossible before the end of the month, where you most likely would have overspent by thousands of dollars.

However, with a real-time actuals overview, you will notice unexpected expenditures in a snap, be able to make changes on the fly, and stay in control of your money. 

How do I keep within my budget?

Set up a “buffer”, or in other words, allocate a certain amount of your expenses into an “unexpected account”. 

Unexpected expenses happen all the time - even for the best financial planners out there - so do yourself the favor of allocating parts of your budget to unforeseen costs. 

But just how much should you allocate?

There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but an excellent place to start is 5-10%. 

That way, you should have enough buffer in your budget. 

5 hacks to manage Financial Reporting, Profit & Loss, and Budget vs. Actuals like a seasoned finance professional

  1. Don’t do manual work, and don’t waste time manually importing/exporting your data. Instead, automate it with LiveFlow.
  2. Add a buffer in your expenditures budget to have room for unexpected expenses
  3. Look at your reports at least weekly, so you’re in control of where you are at
  4. Set up goals for what you want to earn and what you want to spend
  5. Communicate your plan, your Profit & Loss (P&L), and your Budget vs. Actuals to your team. Netflix is a prime example of how giving employees full access to the Profit & Loss and important financial information, increases employee loyalty, buy-in, collaboration, and context.


Monitoring your Budget vs. Actuals and your Profit & Loss is vital to your success. Managing it will help you get control of your finances, know if you’re overspending, and plan out how much you should earn and spend. 

Variance is the difference between what you planned vs. what you achieved. Make sure to get your actuals as close as possible to your budget. 

Instead of manually importing and exporting your actuals to your budget, use a tool like LiveFlow that lets you connect your actuals to your budget in a snap. 

Communicate your financial plans with your team to increase employee buy-in. Check out this Netflix case study for more inspiration. 

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