Accumulation and Present Value Using Spreadsheets

Creating spreadsheets that can be understood

A spreadsheet is well presented if another person could read it and understand what was being worked out. This means clear labelling of columns, a suitable title, and key or base variables.

A good spreadsheet isn’t just useful for other people- you’ll spot your own mistakes much faster if you lay things out clearly.

Before attempting this topic, make sure your students have mastered their Spreadsheet Skills.


  • Leckie Higher Applications Student Book – Chapter 13 – Exercise 13A
  • Try completing the Holiday Challenge task again, but this time using a spreadsheet. Have students share their spreadsheets with each other; can they follow each other’s spreadsheets?
  • What happens when spreadsheets go wrong? You lose money.
  • Challenge students to create a simple spreadsheet where you can enter an annual interest rate, an initial deposit, a monthly deposit and a number of months to save for. Can the students have the spreadsheet find the total saved? Once you finish the task have the students review each other’s work- how easy were mistakes to find? Was it easy to see the method the students were using? What could they do to make it clearer?

Accumulation and Present Value

Simple cases can be done on a calculator, but once things start getting complicated a spreadsheet is invaluable.


  • Leckie Higher Applications Student Book – Chapter 13 – Exercise 13B
  • Ask your students what they would like to save for in the future (e.g. deposit for a car, big holiday) and have them make a spreadsheet to see how much they could save. Encourage them to look-up real interest rates for their banks.
  • Zopa have an interesting way of doing savings. Show students the different options below (click link for current rates), and have them create a spreadsheet showing how their savings could change over time. What are the risks of choosing a “boosted pot”? What is the risk of using an “Access pot”? What sort of thing would you use an access pot for, what about boosted pots?

Savings rates for Zopa

  • Show students this savings accumulation spreadsheet. It has a lot more bells and whistles than anything we’re likely to produce in this course, but ultimately building something like this is in their wheelhouse.