Goal Seeking

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 16, 2018)

Excel includes a tool that makes it very easy to play "what if" by making changes in a variable. While you could make the changes manually, it is much easier to allow Excel to adjust the variable for you to reach a desired result.

For instance, let's suppose that you want to calculate how much money you will need to deposit in a savings account for each of 24 months in order to have $2,500 there at the end of the two years. You know the interest rate, but you are not sure of the amount. You put together a very, very simple future value calculator. In cell B4 is your deposit amount (unknown right now), cell B5 contains your interest rate 3.25% (nobody said this was a stellar investment vehicle), and cell B6 is the number of months (24). In cell B7 you enter the actual formula for the future value calculation, as follows:

= -FV(B5,B6,B4)

If you wanted to determine how much you needed to deposit in the account each month, you could repeatedly change the deposit value (cell B4) until you got close to the desired goal. This is where the goal seeking tool comes in, however. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the Future Value cell (the one at B7).
  2. Choose Goal Seek from the Tools menu. This displays the Goal Seek dialog box. The Set Cell field is already set to B7, which is the cell you selected in step 1.
  3. Move the insertion point to the To Value field and change it to 2500. This is the amount you want to have at the end of two years.
  4. Move the insertion point to the By Changing Cell field and use the mouse to click on cell B4 (the cell that will contain your regular deposit amounts).
  5. Click on the OK button. Excel lets you know it has found a solution.
  6. Click on OK. Your worksheet is changed to reflect the solution found.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2008) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Adding Excel Information to a Web Page

Besides saving a worksheet as a complete Web page, you can also save smaller portions of your data to an existing Web ...

Discover More

Automatically Breaking Text

Want to convert the text in a cell so that it wraps after every word? You could edit the cell and press Alt+Enter after ...

Discover More

Creating an Organization Chart

The graphics capabilities of Excel are flexible enough that you can use the program to create organization charts. Here's ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Adding and Using a Combo Box

Combo boxes can be a great way of getting user input in a worksheet. Here's how to add a combo box to your worksheet and ...

Discover More

Embedding an Excel Chart in a Word Document

As components of the Microsoft Office suite, one would expect Excel and Word to work together. One of the most common ...

Discover More

Adding Buttons to Your Worksheet

You can easily add a button to your worksheet that will allow you to run various macros. This tip shows how easy it is.

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven more than 7?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.