Simple Spreadsheets

JacobyCVR_front72webExcel for decision-makers

Available now from Amazon.

Even if you’ve never used Excel before, you’ll learn all you need to know to build powerful spreadsheets to help you make decisions. You don’t need to know anything about programming, statistics, or financial analysis.

Most people think of Excel for “number crunching” with complex statistics and analysis. Yes, Excel does this if you have a lot of data to analyze. But usually you don’t! For example, you might ask, “I am 30 years old now, and I want to retire at 55. How much money should I save each year?” What makes this decision hard is the lack of data. Simple Spreadsheets for Hard Decisions focuses on the features and techniques that are useful for real-world decisions like this.

Easy techniques for quickly building useful spreadsheets

You’ll be building useful spreadsheets right away. In addition to essential Excel techniques, you’ll learn how to:

  • Grow a powerful spreadsheet from a few simple formulas
  • Use built-in functions, for example, to calculate house payments
  • Use “bucket brigade” formulas to build complex answers from simple formulas
  • Do sensitivity analysis to find out what’s important
  • Balance multiple, conflicting goals
  • Play “what-if” to visualize possible outcomes
  • Look at possible outcomes by randomizing what you can’t know (such as future inflation)
  • Use Monte Carlo techniques to estimate risk

..and much, much more

How to use spreadsheets to make a decision

Examples of the decisions we all must make are the foundation for presenting these powerful techniques. You will use the techniques to develop spreadsheets that lead you to decisions on increasingly complex sample life challenges. The book is based on example spreadsheets that you may use or modify. Download them from

Here are examples of some of the decisions included in the book:

  • Should I buy a house or rent?
  • How much money can I spend?
  • Which apartment should I choose?
  • Which car should I buy?
  • How much do I need to save to send my child to college?
  • Which health insurance should I buy?
  • Can I afford to retire?
  • Should I change jobs?
  • Can I handle the risks of aggressive investments?

Learn more.

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