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I am trying to build a budget worksheet where users can enter their budget information and save that until the next time they need to update it. Each user will only have access to their budget sheet.

I spent approximately 16 hours on trying to get Sheetnode and PHPExcel to work, but that is really buggy in my humble opinion (may also be my lack of knowledge).

I'm not really looking for a "how-to" but rather someone point me in another direction where I could possibly find success. I don't really know what keywords to search in google for what I need to do, but I keep stumbling upon webform, which is a nice module, but does not do what I need at all.

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You could try https://drupal.org/project/tablefield or https://drupal.org/project/slickgrid

From module page:

The Slickgrid module is an implementation of Michael Leibman's jquery slickgrid plugin, a lightening fast JavaScript grid/spreadsheet.

It defines a slickgrid view style, so all data can be output as an editable grid.

This module will only work with Slickgrid 2.1.

These do not provide spreadsheet functionality, but you would probably implement the summation or whatever calculation is necessary.

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This is the closest module (Ledger) I have found for creating budgets in drupal. However the module is still under development. If this does not meet your requirement, you might have to write a custom module for what you want.

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A NOT commonly known/used solution that might help to answer this question is the fairly new Math Field module (for D7). Some more details about this module (from its project page):

The Math Field module defines a new field type to dynamically calculate values on entity forms. This is an alternative to Computed Field that does not require the use of PHP Filter.

Math expression fields are dynamically updated via ajax on the entity form as soon as all necessary fields are populated. If JavaScript is disabled, the field will be evaluated when the form is submitted. The result is stored in the database when the form is submitted.

For more details (step-by-step instructions), refer to either of these links:

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