For those who don't "over track" expenses but have a good system, care to share your Group/Categories?

Hi @hbwilliams22. My wife and I have taken the route of minimizing the categories as much as possible. With that, there are times where I still like to see the details expanded out so we heavily use tags. If you haven’t used tags before, I highly recommend them. They are great for chasing down things quickly to understand a transaction. Something I do to stay consistent with tags conventions is use data validation that references the tags report. That way, I am entering similar tags names as you would for your list of categories! I hope this helps!

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Does anyone go ultra-minimal with categories? For example, just discretionary and non-discretionary as two categories of expenses?

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I would like to become more minimal, or at least be able to view transactions by “fixed”, “variable”, and “discretionary”. Would be great if you created a report/tab like this @peter @TillerTeam @tillersupport

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One thing I am learning is that when my interest in becoming more granular with expenses becomes a priority, I am spending too much time cataloging after the fact. I need to spend more time before-hand building a budget with broader groups that are in line our home’s priorities and then adjust our living to match those. For us, that’s the power in budgeting: a plan that actually works and helps us to make really impactful choices. Otherwise, I can feel really good to have everything amazingly catalogued, but miss the boat living where we mean to.

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Yeah, like another level to Groups such as Classification: fixed, variable, discretionary.

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So just a question I previously had an amazon, target, and Costco category. While Costco for me was easy to track gas, groceries. Amazon and Target are like these big black holes for spending since you can literally get anything from these stores. I just merged them into Misc. Discretionary spending so I could see how much I was spending that was not a “fixed” expense. If anyone could give me their opinion on separating it back out then truly breaking down those categories, food, clothing, household supplies, etc. I would appreciate it.

I don’t disagree with you. It’s just my personal preference. My reasoning behind it is that when on vacation I do not want to pay attention to what I spend on food and I normally may also order more expensive dishes than I normally would. Also, given higher prices at tourist destinations, my food budget would show that I overspent on food while in reality I may not have had an option to eat for cheaper - say you go to Bermuda and you pay $20 for a regular burger. Same goes for groceries - you go to a grocery store and a bag of chips is $7.

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@hfinkelstein Thanks for sharing; your method is very similar to mine. Would you mind sharing your method for tracking your savings with Tiller? I know there’s been a lot of different things shared here over the years, but I’d love to hear how you tackle it. Thanks in advance.

Hi,
I like your organization and wanted to share with you and others what I did. I created a group and subgroup for each category and then I can create a pivot table from this info. It’s not tough to create new columns in the transactions tab.
Below is a sample of categories and groups I use.

Category Group Sub Group Type
FUN & ENTERTAINMENT
Alcohol (Wine.com) Subscriptions Recreation & Fun Expense
Drinks & Weekend Fun Entertainment Recreation & Fun Expense
Driving Range & Golf Lessons Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Fantasy Ball Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Golf Equipment Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Green Fees Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Hulu Subscriptions Recreation & Fun Expense
Internet Related Subscriptions Recreation & Fun Expense
Netflix Subscriptions Recreation & Fun Expense
Outdoor Activities Entertainment Recreation & Fun Expense
Personal Finance Subscriptions Recreation & Fun Expense
Print & Web Books/Subscriptions Entertainment Recreation & Fun Expense
Crafts & Hobbies Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Real Estate Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Sports Activities Entertainment Recreation & Fun Expense
Sports Cards Related Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Spotify Subscriptions Recreation & Fun Expense
Obligations
Cable TV Obligations Household Expense
Electricity Obligations Household Expense
Internet & Cable Obligations Household Expense
Internet Only Obligations Household Expense
Mobile Phone Obligations Household Expense
Natural Gas Obligations Household Expense
Sewage Obligations Household Expense
Trash Obligations Household Expense
Water Obligations Household Expense
House Related
Escrow Refund/Shortage House Related Household Expense
HELOC Payment & Principal House Related Household Expense
HOA Fees House Related Household Expense
Home Maintenance House Related Household Expense
Mortgage Payment House Related Household Expense
Moving & Selling House Related Household Expense
Previous Mortgage & Rent House Related Household Expense
Property Taxes House Related Household Expense
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Didn’t see anyone post with account numbers built into the group or category names, so thought I’d throw my method into the ring in case someone finds it valuable.

Category Group Type
00 - Mortgage 01 - Housing Expense
05 - Association Fees 01 - Housing Expense
10 - Property Taxes 01 - Housing Expense
15 - Insurance - Home 01 - Housing Expense
20 - Repair - Home 01 - Housing Expense
00 - Gas & Tolls 03 - Transportation Expense
05 - Insurance - Auto 03 - Transportation Expense
10 - Licenses - Auto 03 - Transportation Expense
15 - Repair - Auto 03 - Transportation Expense
20 - Public Transport 03 - Transportation Expense
25 - Rideshare 03 - Transportation Expense
02 - Electricity 02 - Utilities Expense
04 - Natural Gas 02 - Utilities Expense
05 - Internet 02 - Utilities Expense
10 - Phones 02 - Utilities Expense
15 - Streaming 02 - Utilities Expense
20 - News 02 - Utilities Expense
25 - Software 02 - Utilities Expense
00 - Groceries 04 - Living Expense
05 - Target 04 - Living Expense
10 - Amazon 04 - Living Expense
15 - Personal 04 - Living Expense
20 - Home 04 - Living Expense
05 - Medical 05 - Wellness Expense
10 - Insurance - Life 05 - Wellness Expense
10 - Clothing 06 - Discretionary Expense
05 - Food & Drink 06 - Discretionary Expense
25- Entertainment 06 - Discretionary Expense
20 - Kids 06 - Discretionary Expense
30 - Travel 06 - Discretionary Expense
15 - Other Shopping 06 - Discretionary Expense
40- Gift 06 - Discretionary Expense
99 - Cash / ATM 06 - Discretionary Expense
50 - Reimbursable 06 - Discretionary Expense
05 - Paycheck 1 00 - Primary Income Income
10 - Paycheck 2 00 - Primary Income Income
15 - Other Income 00 - Primary Income Income
20 - Interest Income 00 - Primary Income Income
05 - Transfer - CC Transfer Types Transfer
10 - Transfer - Invest Transfer Types Transfer

The default tiller templates sort ascending by name, so with account numbers, you end up with a financial statement presentation (income at the top, expenses below, and then all your categories are sorted as you’d like to see them, instead of alphabetically by name). I create accounts in 05 increments in case I need to squeeze in some future thing I haven’t thought of. I use the same convention with asset and liabilities as it cleans up the net worth statement nicely too. And, of course, it works swimmingly with pivot tables. fwiw.

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@Kathryn Having a masters in accounting and currently working on another masters in finance, I love this “budgeting chart of accounts.” It appeals to my inner nerd. :slight_smile: This will serve as a nice model for my own chart of accounts. With that said, I have three comments/questions.

First, why (and how) do you included your husband’s gross salary along with all the pre-AGI (and one post-AGI) deductions in your Tiller budget? Tiller obviously just imports the paycheck that hits your bank account, so for a salaried employee, this would be be your net pay. Does the “Salary and Wage Income” just work for informational purposes, or does it serve some purpose? Or, now that I think about it a bit more, is this section for your own self-employment purposes? (I was assuming earlier that it was for your husband, but this could be for your own self-employed wages so that you could show transfers out of your account to other accounts.)

Second, why have “#1” listed for the “Salary and Wage Income” section, but not for other sections? Just trying to determine the purpose of this numbering system.

Third, what do you think of the numbering system employed by @viachicago towards the bottom of this thread? It seems like this might be helpful with keeping things organized by accounts to allow a personal financial statement presentation as he/she noted in his explanation. I’m trying to think of potential improvements or pitfalls with using such a system for myself.

Very much looking forward to your thoughts. Thanks in advance!

Best,
Aubrey

Isn’t it fun how we find our people here in the Tiller Community forum? No one in real life cares about my budgeting chart of accounts, haha!

  1. This is my husband’s income, yes. This is to break out details for doing tax projections. In addition, I think it’s important to get a full view of spending, including those payroll deductions (health insurance and taxes are huge expenses usually!). It’s an extra step to break them out, but is worth it to get that extra detail.

  2. The #1 is replaced with the person’s name (in my case my husband, Ian). We previously were both on salary so I had a #1 section and a #2 section. Now I’m strictly self-employment so I just need the one section.

  3. Fantastic idea @viachicago !

To note, every year I revisit my income & expense categories and see if they’re providing any useful insights into my personal finances and decision making. I’m more likely to cut some then add new ones I’ve found. There are some really great examples here!

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I love it, it shows that you put a lot of thought into the things that provide value for you to track separately!

Hi, question, you stated that you add columns to the transaction page. Did you add the group and sub-groups to that page. My current transaction page does not have either of those. I did add a tags column in the past. Am I correct in that I can add the grp and sub-grp the same way? Once that is done, then create a pivot table using those columns. With the increasing cost of food etc I am trying to get a handle on those costs. It being one of the few in this day and age that we can have some control over. I already have each of the different vendors with tag I just want to see if changing from say to Jewel to Aldi will in the long run same me money. I know that I cannot just stop going to say Jewel and only Aldi as Aldi does not sell everything we need. For a senior on a fixed budget you can understand my concern. Thanks for you input.

I really like your list, would you be willing to share the entire set? Working to do a reset on ours this year.

Hello,
I hope this helps,
Using pivot table it’s helpful to see the subgroup dollars spent, Below is the list of expenses I use

MONTHLY OBLIGATIONS
Cable TV Obligations Household Expense
Electricity Obligations Household Expense
Internet & Cable Obligations Household Expense
Internet Only Obligations Household Expense
Mobile Phone Obligations Household Expense
Natural Gas Obligations Household Expense
Sewage Obligations Household Expense
Trash Obligations Household Expense
Water Obligations Household Expense
INSURANCE
Homeowner’s Insurance Insurance Assurance Expense
JM Car Insurance Insurance Assurance Expense
M’s Life Insurance Insurance Assurance Expense
Wife Life Insurance Insurance Assurance Expense
HOUSE RELATED House Related
Escrow Refund/Shortage House Related Household Expense
HELOC Payment & Principal House Related Household Expense
HOA Fees House Related Household Expense
Home Maintenance House Related Household Expense
Mortgage Payment House Related Household Expense
Moving & Selling House Related Household Expense
Previous Mortgage & Rent House Related Household Expense
Property Taxes House Related Household Expense
FOOD & HOUSEHOLD
Fast Food & Restaurants Food & Household Food Expense
Groceries Food & Household Food Expense
M’s Food & Drink at Work Food & Household Food Expense
M’s Hang out with Friends Food & Household Food Expense
Misc. Home Supplies Food & Household Food Expense
Wife Food & Drink On Road Food & Household Food Expense
GIFTS & DONATIONS Gifts & Donations
Anniversary Gifts & Donations Giving Expense
Birthday Gifts Gifts & Donations Giving Expense
Charity Gifts & Donations Giving Expense
Christmas Gifts & Donations Giving Expense
Family & Friends Gifts & Donations Giving Expense
Funeral Gifts & Donations Giving Expense
Something For Kid Gifts & Donations Giving Expense
Special Occasions Gifts & Donations Giving Expense
Wedding Gifts & Donations Giving Expense
FUN & ENTERTAINMENT Fun & Entertainment
Alcohol (Wine.com) Subscriptions Recreation & Fun Expense
Drinks & Weekend Fun Entertainment Recreation & Fun Expense
Driving Range & Golf Lessons Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Fantasy Ball Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Golf Equipment Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Green Fees Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Hulu Subscriptions Recreation & Fun Expense
Internet Related Subscriptions Recreation & Fun Expense
Netflix Subscriptions Recreation & Fun Expense
Outdoor Activities Entertainment Recreation & Fun Expense
Personal Finance Subscriptions Recreation & Fun Expense
Print & Web Books/Subscriptions Entertainment Recreation & Fun Expense
Wife Crafts & Hobbies Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Real Estate Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Sports Activities Entertainment Recreation & Fun Expense
Sports Cards Related Hobbies Recreation & Fun Expense
Spotify Subscriptions Recreation & Fun Expense
WORK RELATED
M’s Work Related Work Related Essentials Expense
M’s Parking at Work Work Related Essentials Expense

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|TRANSPORTATION||||
|Car Purchase|Transportation|Automotive|Expense|
|M Car Gas|Transportation|Automotive|Expense|
|M Car Maint|Transportation|Automotive|Expense|
|Plates & Registration|Transportation|Automotive|Expense|
|Wife Car Gas|Transportation|Automotive|Expense|
|Wife Car Maint|Transportation|Automotive|Expense|
|Uber Travel|Transportation|Automotive|Expense|
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|HEALTH & WELLNESS||||
|Exercise Related|Personal Care|Healthcare|Expense|
|Glasses & Sunglasses|Personal Care|Healthcare|Expense|
|HSA Contribution|Medical|Healthcare|Transfer|
|M’s Haircut|Personal Care|Healthcare|Expense|
|Medical & Dental|Medical|Healthcare|Expense|
|Pharmacy & Prescriptions|Personal Care|Healthcare|Expense|
|Cosmetics & Beauty|Personal Care|Healthcare|Expense|
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|DISCRETIONARY SPENDING||||
|Cell Phone & Accessories|Discretionary|Personal|Expense|
|Electronics & Software|Discretionary|Personal|Expense|
|Holiday Decorations|Discretionary|Personal|Expense|
|House Decorations|Discretionary|Personal|Expense|
|House Furniture & Appliance|Discretionary|Personal|Expense|
|Kitchen Related|Discretionary|Personal|Expense|
|Lawn & Plant Related|Discretionary|Personal|Expense|
|M’s Clothes|Discretionary|Personal|Expense|
|Office Supplies|Discretionary|Personal|Expense|
|Postage/Shipping|Discretionary|Personal|Expense|
|Wife Clothes|Discretionary|Personal|Expense|

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|TRANSACTION FEES||||
|Annual Membership|Fees & Charges|Fees|Expense|
|ATM Fee & Foreign Transaction Fee|Fees & Charges|Fees|Expense|
|CC Annual & Transaction Fees|Fees & Charges|Fees|Expense|
|CC Interest Charge|Fees & Charges|Fees|Expense|
|Tolls & Parking Fees|Fees & Charges|Fees|Expense|
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|VACATION RELATED||||
|Vacation: Airfare|Vacation|Entertainment|Expense|
|Vacation: Food & Drinks|Vacation|Entertainment|Expense|
|Vacation: Incidentals|Vacation|Entertainment|Expense|
|Vacation: Insurance|Vacation|Entertainment|Expense|
|Vacation: Lodging|Vacation|Entertainment|Expense|
|Vacation: Souvenirs|Vacation|Entertainment|Expense|
|Vacation: Transaction Fees|Vacation|Entertainment|Expense|
|Vacation: Transport|Vacation|Entertainment|Expense|

1 Like

Here is ours. I’ve simplified this since switching from Quicken to Tiller. Some of my categorization looks inconsistent on paper. Example: I have “Home Insurance” in Home group but then have other Insurance in a Insurance group. I probably either need to have an Insurance group in totality or put each type of Insurance in it’s associated Group.

And probably need to explain my Savings group. I budget for monthly amounts that we allocate from spending to savings. Thus, those “To” categories you see. For investments, they are simply logged as Transfers when they hit the other side of the ledger inside the actual investment accounts. If I want to look at specific investment allocations, holdings, performance, etc I have my quarterly meeting with Financial Advisor to discuss and adjust. In the interim, I use their proprietary platform to view and/or use Personal Capital’s free platform as second opinion. I’ve realized over the years that having all of that investment minutiae in something like Quicken or trying to build it out here is frankly overkill, IMO.

One other specific note on my “Spending Buffer” category…that is excess cash we keep in our spending account that I deduct from if we have to go over our monthly budgeted amounts for outliers. It’s essentially real-time emergency savings that doesn’t require a transfer from another account if I need the liquidity immediately. We could debate separately if that is optimal use of that cash, but I’ve found that works well for us.

I have a medium to longer term “To Cash Savings” account where I store money for larger, future spend (Ex: that’s where the Property Taxes and Insurance category goes) and rainy-day fund.

Category Group Type
Fuel Auto Expense
Parking Auto Expense
Ride Fees Auto Expense
Service Auto Expense
Warranty Auto Expense
Dry Cleaning Bills Expense
Electric Bills Expense
Gas Bills Expense
Home Security Bills Expense
Internet Bills Expense
Lawncare Bills Expense
Maid Bills Expense
Mobile Bills Expense
Poolcare Bills Expense
Professional Services Bills Expense
Subscriptions Bills Expense
Water Bills Expense
Movies & Games Entertainment Expense
Travel Entertainment Expense
Groceries Food Expense
Restaurants Food Expense
Gym Health Expense
Hair & Nails Health Expense
Medical Health Expense
Personal Care Health Expense
Prescriptions & Supplements Health Expense
Home Improvements Home Expense
Home Insurance Home Expense
Home Supplies Home Expense
MORTGAGE LOAN Home Expense
Auto Insurance Insurance Expense
Life Insurance Insurance Expense
Personal Articles Insurance Expense
Clothing & Shoes Merchandise Expense
General Merchandise Merchandise Expense
Gifts Merchandise Expense
Boarding Petcare Expense
Pet Supplies Petcare Expense
Veterinary Petcare Expense
Property Taxes & Insurance Savings Expense
Spending Buffer Savings Expense
To Cash Savings Savings Expense
To Charity Savings Expense
To Investments Savings Expense
Federal Tax Taxes Expense
State Tax Taxes Expense
Reimbursable Work Expense

Other considerations I’m thinking about:

  • Collapse Hair & Nails into Personal Care
  • Collapse Gifts into General Merchandise
  • Use Tags for the Reimbursable Work stuff and delete that category

This is what i use, BUT - i am interested in your categories and would like to hear if anyone can see a way i can improve mine
Bus Exp - Home Office
Bus Exp - Memberships
Edu - Books
Edu - Fees
Edu - Tuition
Person 1 - Beauty misc
Person 1 - Clothes
Person 1 - Gift
Person 1 - Hair
Person 1 - Nails
Person 1 - Pers Shopping
Person 1 - Pers Vaca
Person 1 - Restau
Person 1 - Venmo
Ent - Misc
Ent - Streaming
Person 2 - Conven Store
Person 2 - Last Mo Rent
Person 2 - Pay Person 2an For Help
Person 2 - Pers Spending
Person 2 - Rent
Person 2 - Restaurants
Person 2 - Sec Dep
Person 2 - Transport
FLAG
Food - Alch
Food - Groc
Food - Restau
Homeimp - Kitchen - Labor
Homeimp - Labor
Homeimp - Supplies
Insur - Auto
Insur - Person 1 Life
Insur - Person 3 Car
Insur - Person 3 Prop
Insur - travel
Inv - Cap Gain
Inv - Div
Inv - Int
Inv - Return
Joe - Gear
Legal - Dispute
Legal Settlement
Med - fees and copay
Med - HSA Contribution
Med - HSA Payment
Med - Pharmacy
Med - Supplies
Pers - Amazon
Pers - Charity
Pers - Clothing
Pers - DPerson 3 Cleaning
Pers - Person 1 Training
Pers - Family Hair
Pers - Gaming
Pers - Gear
Pers - Gift
Pers - Home
Pers - Home maint
Pers - Peleton FEE
Pers - Peleton Loan
Pers - Shopping
Pers - Subscriptions
Pers - Travel
Pers - Vacation
Pets - Groom
Pets - License
Pets - Supplies
Pets - Vet
RE - 742 Apt 1 Rent
RE - Rentprop Advertising
RE - Rentprop Apt 1 SecDep
RE - Rentprop Apt 2 Rent
RE - Rentprop Apt 2 SecDep
RE - Rentprop Apt 3 Rent
RE - Rentprop Apt 3 SecDep
RE - Rentprop Auto & Gas
RE - Rentprop Insurance
RE - Rentprop Labor
RE - Rentprop Landscaping & Snow
RE - Rentprop Legal & Prof Fees
RE - Rentprop Maint & Cleaning
RE - Rentprop Mortgage
RE - Rentprop Office
RE - Rentprop Pub Elec
RE - Rentprop RE Tax
RE - Rentprop Repairs
RE - Rentprop Supplies
RE - Rentprop Water
RE - DELot Maint & Cleaning
RTN - Work Expense
Person 3 - auto gas
Person 3 - auto maint
Person 3 - Cash Funding
Person 3 - Cash Transfer
Person 3 - Electric
Person 3 - Entertainment
Person 3 - Groceries
Person 3 - Gym
Person 3 - Rent
Person 3 - Restaurants
Person 3 - Shopping
Person 3 - Transportation
Salary - Person 1
Salary - Joe
Sean Car - Joe Insurance Pay
Tax - 22 Hamps Prop Tax
Tax - Auto Excise Tax
Tax - Local
Tax - Refund IRS
Trans - Atm rebate
Trans - cash app
Trans - Cash Withdrawal
Trans - Credit Card Payment
Trans - credit card rewards
Trans - Deposit
Trans - Fee
Trans - Misc
Trans - NUL
Trans - Refund
Trans - Reinvestment
Trans - Repair
Trans - Sale Stuff
Trans - Venmo Cashout
Trans - Venmo Transfer
Transport - Auto & Gas
Transport - DMV
Transport - Parking
Transport - Tolls
Util - Cellphone
Util - Elec
Util - Gas
Util - Internet
Util - Water

Need some context I think. It looks like you are budgeting categories at the individual level for 3 different people in your household? That seems like a consolidation opportunity?

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This is a great thread.
I am new to Tiller after having used Quicken, MS Money, and AceMoney.
I’ve used Categories and Subcategories in the past.
Heather from Tiller wrote a great article on using Groups and Categories to provide the same functionality in Tiller as Categories and Subcategories in legacy personal finance software.
Question: I am surprised that Tiller lets me select ANY Category, once a Group is selected on the Transactions tab. I wish I was experiencing Data Validation on the Category once a Group was selected, otherwise I have no confidence in my Reports. Is my Foundation Template messed up or is this a “feature” of Tiller? How do I insure that my Reports and Graphs of a given Group only show the Categories of that Group? Any thoughts or help would be much appreciated! TIA!