Best Practices for Categories and AutoCat

Hi, new here and trying to get some overview help before I dig too far down into the rabbit hole of autocat and best category etiquette. I imagine I can’t be the first to ask these questions so I appreciate it if anyone can point me in the right direction since I’m still learning how to use this forum.

Context: I’m deep into traveling hacking, bank bonus earning, a little side gig, and other financial rigmaroles.

Here are general questions.
For my side gig, what’s the best way to set up the categories?
For example, I have Electronic Purchase and Electronic Sales. One for expense and one for income

For my traveling hacking, it means a lot of rebates.
For example, I may spend $34 on an airfare tax but that gets reimbursed by my credit card with a credit. If I category the expense as “airfare” but the credit as “rebate,” it’s hard to match them up later.
Should I be creating a separate category of “Credit Card Reimburseables” and “Reimbursement”
I assume this is similiar to how one would do Flexible Spending Accounts? I just can’t wrap my head around the best way to set up the categories so that it’ll be useful for queries and reports later down the line.

My side gig’s expense and income overshadows my personal spending by many folds. This is one of the reasons I look into Tiller Money in the first place. My wife also has a Schedule C small business so it added a lot of complexity when using something like Mint or Personal Capital. For the past 2 years, I’ve been recategorizing most business expense as “transfer” when using those programs because it allows me to see my personal spending better. I see that Tiller Money allows Transfer to be “hidden” but I wasn’t sure if that’s the best way to delineate business vs personal expenses. I think there’s a whole other subgroup for business spending in the forum but I don’t know where to get started.

Thanks for all your help!!

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Regarding reimbursements and other statement credits, I categorize them exactly the same as the expense that triggered them. So if I eat out for $35, but get a $15 credit from my Delta Platinum Amex, the net spending on the meal as reflected in my budget is only $20. The original $35 expense is preserved, the $15 credit is accounted for, the $20 to be taken from my eating out budget is clear, and my budgeted and actual income is unaffected.


I’m not sure my needs are quite as complicated or sophisticated as yours, @tyu.

I agree with @cculber2 that the simplest way to deal with reimbursements is to categorize them the same as the expense so you have an accurate net total for the category. If your reporting needs require you to know how much you received in rebates, you can always use Sheets features like filters and pivot tables to isolate only favorable charges.

I’d also leverage the power of category groups to aggregate and isolate different aspects of your finances— like your side gig and travel hacking.

Finally, if you want to flag aspects of your finances that cross category and group boundaries, tags are a great way to go multi-dimensional. There are some rudimentary tag tools available in the Tiller Community Solutions add-on and this community and the extensibility of Google Sheets make the possibilities almost endless.

Welcome & good luck.

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I think this depends on your travel hacking philosophy. I think there are two ways to look at it: 1. I paid the fee so now I get free stuff or 2. The perks of the card make the card free/cheap/pay me. I think sometimes people/blogs try to double count it as both free stuff AND why the credit card pays for itself.

  1. If you look at it as you got something free, then using the same category makes sense. Be sure to have a line item somewhere else acknowledging your annual fees so you can track that spending too!

  2. If you look at it as earning back the annual fee, then track the annual fee and either put the rebate in that same category (i.e., Credit Card Fees and Rebates) to see how close it gets to $0 or use a second separate Credit Card Rebate/Travel Credit/etc. category to compare the two numbers.

Personally, I’m in camp #2 and have a Group for Credit Card Earnings with Categories for Credit Card Fees, Points Costs (if I paid a bill that charged a credit card fee I split the transaction in Tiller and use this category for the fee), Cashback, and Travel Credits.


Regarding the business spend, are you using separate bank accounts and credit cards for the business or are you mixing personal and business spend in the same accounts? If it’s separate, or mostly separate with a couple of exceptions, I’d create a separate sheet in Tiller for the business and only link the relevant accounts!

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Since it sounds like you do a Ton of Credit Card Hacking, I’d vote to keep both your rebate in the same category as the original expense. However, you could create a rule to include a tag with those transactions for “Rebate” or something similar. So it’s easy at any point to pull a pivot table report where you can see how much your spending was, excluding rebates and how much in rebates for each category.

For business spending - if you want to see business spending totally separate than personal, you can setup a totally separate Tiller Sheet for your business and your Wife’s business (assuming you each have your own business checking/credit card account). If you don’t want to do it this way because of preference (or you have a mix of personal/business on the same checking/credit card) and it’s nice to see everything as a big picture, I would:

Create a Group for each of your Businesses and categories in each of those groups. I would create budgets for those if you want to, just like personal. And keep the type normal - as an expense or income. (not transfers). If Budget is important - Then if you ever wanted to see how your personal was doing vs budget (without seeing business mixed in), you could just hide the categories in the Category Tab - pretty easy and can be switched back again whenever you want.

To just see income and expenses, I’d create several different pivot tables or custom reports that pulls in Husband Business Income Less Husband Business Expenses = Husband Profit. Then I’d do the Same for your wife. Then I’d create a last table report with W2 income less personal expenses. Then at the bottom of all these three reports you could do a big summary of income from all sources less expenses from all sources to see if you actually accrued savings, etc…

There’s a bunch of different directions you could go depending on how you want to view things. Also, sounds like for your electronics you’re buying things to resell, you could think about creating a tag or just a new column to track the specific items being purchased then re-sold, so you can tie it together later if you needed to. And if this is the case, I’d create two types of groups for this business - 1 group is like a Cost of Goods (your original purchase for inventory) and the 2 group for more general expenses like business subscriptions, etc.