Help Workshop a Savings Template Concept

Many users have asked for a template to help track toward savings goals. And, truth be told, it’s a piece of the Tiller-platform puzzle we haven’t fully figured out yet.

With the help of @peter & @heather, I’ve begun early concept work on what we hope will become a general-purpose, easy-to-use Tiller Labs savings template that integrates and synergizes with other Tiller core sheets.

What should a savings template do?

  • Identify specific savings targets
  • Report on additional savings required to achieve the savings goal(s)
  • Track the effects of goal spending on goal balances
  • Project when a goal will be achieved (based on modeled cashflow)
  • Unlock budgeting workflows toward savings accrual - don’t have a solve for this yet

Concept Video

In this concept, whenever a user wishes to fund their savings account, they make a transfer (presumably from their checking account to a dedicated savings account). As that real-world balances accrues, it is loaded into their Tiller spreadsheet via feeds updates and the template will show progress toward savings goals.

Notes & Questions

  • Where is savings accrued? This concept leverages a dedicated real-world bank account where the account balance represents total savings. As an alternative, envelope budgeting workflows typically accrue savings in categories (rather than account balances). I love the ease and flexibility of envelope workflows but they are difficult to realize without the complexity of dedicated support scripts.
  • Use of tags. To track spending against goals (e.g. early spend on a vacation savings goal on airline tickets), the concept uses a Tags column in Transactions. Tags are a decent fit for this use scenario because a transaction can be tagged and counted for a savings goal but can also be separately categorized where appropriate (e.g. Travel). An alternative approach could use new, discrete savings categories instead of tags. Using categories may be simpler & more intuitive (since Tiller spreadsheets all come prebuilt with categories), doesn’t require the addition of the Tags column, and may perform better as parsing multi-tag cells can be fussy. But single-use categories have disadvantages such as category proliferation and also the problem of how to retire discrete savings categories once a goal is achieved (e.g. do one replace all instances of the new “New Sofa” savings category with your existing, general-purpose “Household” category?).
  • Goal prioritization. The concept demonstrated in the video doesn’t allow users to prioritize goals or fill savings buckets like a waterfall. It could be useful to only begin funding the Summer Vacation goal only after the higher-priority Rainy Day goal has been achieved.
  • Budgeting workflow. Ideally, a savings goal template would integrate with a budgeting workflow so savings contributions can be planful. Unfortunately, the concept in the video doesn’t intuitively integrate in this way since savings contributions are simply “transfers” (which are typically not tracked in Tiller spreadsheets) out of checking and into the designated savings account.

Maybe you have workflow solutions that resolve some of these vexing workflow challenges! :wink:

Scope & Context

While there are many niche needs & workflow opportunities, our phase-one goal is to build something easy-to-use and broadly-useful. If there are popular-but-complex feature requests that extend the functionality, we can build those out and go deeper on the solution.

We haven’t tried workshopping a template concept in the community before.
I’m excited to see if/how this works. I welcome your feedback.

Randy

Would be great if you added a few more features

1 - More than just the option to pick one account. (I may want to pick all my savings accounts in the drop-downs?). To go further on this I don’t understand really how the balance needed/Current balance would work in the case that you have multiple accounts?

2 - Needs a minimum deposit amount with a custom interval (per wk/ per month) to hit goal.I liked this feature on the debt payoff calculator.

3 - Would be great to have a table to the right that shows our categories with remaining budgets to the right to make it easier to determine with category i need to transfer money from.

2 Likes

@vprasad217 thanks again for sharing your goals info. If there is any feedback or feature request you’d like to see incorporated into our concept for a savings template, chime in. We’d love to hear it.

@peter I definitely will. Also, I really enjoyed meeting some of your team, including @heather, at FinCon 2019 and I’m a huge believer in what you’re doing! If you ever want input on feature development from a financial professional using Tiller with clients, I’m happy to help. Before financial coaching, I worked at Facebook doing product management and data analytics, so I love contributing to product development.