Envelope Budget (add-on): setup best practices/basics?

I have several questions about the Envelope Budget sheet and I am so sorry if this has been answered somewhere else - I just cant find any other people who have asked this and I am confused by the languages in the instructions sheets on the website.

  1. Do all of my budget categories have to be rolled over? Can I choose to only have certain categories roll over? I saw that if I do not say where each category should roll over to, there could be some errors.
  2. Why can I not see rollover amounts already? I just started my budget sheet and I thought I would be able to see the roll over amounts in the current sheet from the previous month. Is this not possible or did I do something wrong? Do I have to wait until next month? I followed the instructions and was confused why it had me allocate the rollover balance to “None” category. Why wasnt that balance already allocated to each category?
  3. I am confused why the income budget and the expense budget have to be balanced/matched. I do not have a regular income and the income I get it less than my expenses (I am a student). I am mainly spending from my savings but I work part time. So my monthly expenses are always bigger than my monthly income. But the instructions say that I have to make the income and expense budgets match in order for it to work. That just means that my budgets will be inaccurate and I am confused why it has to be that way.
  4. Will I always be able to access previous months’ budgets or will I only be able to toggle between the current and the previous - like it has a the beginning?

Also - is there anyway to just add a “prior” column in the foundational sheet? I dont need the rollover but would appreciate a “prior” column to see what I spent the month before. Hoping that is something easy to add because I am very confused about the Envelope budget.

  1. No, though I find it’s easier (for me) to do so. You can set any category to roll over or not, or even roll into a different category if you’d like.

  2. You probably need to set up your first month’s rollovers, which is not intuitive. After you get your current month’s all set up the way you want them, you need to get into your Budgets History sheet. This is where all the nitty-gritty details of your budget are stored. By default it is hidden, so you’ll need to unhide it by going to the little sandwich menu next to the plus sign in the lower left-hand corner of your browser screen. Select “Budgets History” from there and then scroll down to the very bottom and you’ll see some rows that say “Rollover To” in the second column. The bottom one is probably blank and you would need to copy your values from the row right above it down. This will basically duplicate your current month’s Rollover settings to the first month’s. After you do that, you must run the Analyze Budgets History function. In the menu bar at the top of the screen select Add-ons > Tiller > Envelope Budget > Analyze Budgets History. Anytime you’re having trouble with your sheet or numbers aren’t making sense, run this function first. It solves most problems that aren’t user error.

  3. They don’t really have to be but you’ll have better results if they do. My income is also extremely variable and this is how I handle it. First off, each month I try to spend the previous month’s income. That makes it a lot easier to keep things balanced. That’s not always possible, so some months I’m spending from savings, or rather an income “buffer” that I maintain. I account for this in Tiller by letting my income build up in the Rollover. So when I start my budget for the upcoming month, I first look at the “Prior” line column of the “Income” row, this tells me how much came in last month and I start by setting my Budget to that amount. Some months I “spend” more than that, and others less. But that is my target. Whatever the difference is comes from or adds to my rollover, which is reflected in the “Available” column. You can think of that as your savings balance in a sense and if you decide to adopt a similar approach, you would adjust your first month’s rollover to reflect this. If this doesn’t make sense to you let me know and I’ll try to clarify. I have a certain range I want that “Available” number to be at each month. If it gets too high, the excess is sent to long term savings accounts such as my investments. If it gets too low, I know I need to pad it a little by cutting expenses or possibly even making a transfer from my emergency fund.

I use quotations for spending there because a lot of my monthly budget items are saving for things I know I’ll have to spend on later. Even annual expenses that are as few as a few dollars are saved for monthly in my budget, which is another way I handle extremely variable income. Things like new tires or auto repairs are also saved for every month when there is sufficient income to do so (as determined by the amount of income rollover).

  1. You can go back as far as you have budgets in that sheet… it could be years if you use the same sheet for that long.

  2. I don’t know much about the Foundations sheet so I can’t answer that one!

One last thing I would add is that I guess the Envelope Budget sheet is about to be deprecated. There’s a new solution in development which is simpler and easier to understand. It would work in the same document as the Foundations sheet so maybe you would like to try it out alongside that and see what sort of workflow is best for you. You can read about it at Add the Savings Budget (Prototype) sheet


Thank you so much! I really appreciate you taking the time to explain this. It really made sense to me. Thanks!

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