Mobile App for Tiller Budget Template

IMPORTANT: This workflow is based on the Tiller Budget Template, which allows you to use envelope/zero sum budgeting. It has not been tested with the Foundation Template.

What is the goal of your workflow? What problem does it solve, or how does it help you?

I want to make it easy to make informed spending decisions when I’m out and about. I also want to perform frequent tasks like categorizing transactions and tracking my cash spending without having to be at my computer or use the clunky Google Sheets app.

How did you come up with the idea for your workflow?

I’ve always wanted a mobile interface to my Tiller Sheet and tried Glide when it was featured on the Tiller Blog. I quickly realized that Glide was too limited to build out the features I’d want in a mobile app. AppSheet, on the other hand, had the power and flexibility to build a fully-featured Tiller mobile app that I could continue to adjust to my liking without needing to code an app from scratch.

Please describe your workflow. What are the sheets? Does it use any custom scripts or formulas?

App Demo Link

The goals of my app are to make these tasks as quick and easy as possible:

  • Identify and categorize new transactions
  • Track cash transactions
  • See how much budget is available to spend in a subset of most important budget categories
  • Check account balances
  • View helpful charts for Net Worth and from the Simple Business Dashboard
  • Require as few modifications to Tiller-provided sheets as possible
  • Require as few workflow-specific sheets as possible

Transactions

The transactions view shows a list of transactions in reverse chronological order, grouped by date. I’ve greyed out transactions that are in “Hide From Reports” categories. Debit amounts are highlighted in green.

Categorizing Transactions

You can quickly categorize multiple transactions by tapping on the QuickEdit button at the top-right of the Transactions screen.

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 2.33.29 AM

Uncategorized transactions are highlighted on the Transactions tab.

New Transaction

I’ve intentionally limited new transactions to Cash transactions because that’s my only manual account. I’m depending on Tiller to import transactions from automatically updated accounts and don’t want to accidentally create transactions I’ll need to delete.

Splitting Transactions

Open the details page for the transaction you want to split

Edit the transaction

Edit the Note

Select the autogenerated split note, which will be used to generate a helpful Split Remainder to help make sure your splits equal the full amount. Here you can see that you’ve changed the amount from $17.65 to $12.65, so the Split Remainder says that I have $5.00 left.

Click save, then re-open the transaction you’re splitting. This time, copy the transaction and change the amount to the previous split remainder $5.00. You can adjust the category for this portion of the split at this time.

Save the transaction and you’ll see that you now have two separate transactions in your transactions list.

Budget

The Budget tab shows a filtered list of categories. Categories that are not configured to “Hide From App” will be shown. Categories that are configured to “Hide From Reports” will always be hidden. The columns shown are:

  • Category
  • Amount available to spend based on the day of month, budgeted amount, and amount spent
  • Amount spent
  • Budget remaining

This helps me decide whether I have budget available to do something like go out to eat. In this example, I can see that I’ve spent $84.20 on Restaurants and have $162.54 available to spend. Categories where you’ve spent more than the “Amount available to spend” will be highlighted in yellow to warn you that you might be overspending if you continue spending at the current rate.

Accounts

This one’s pretty straightforward. It just lists your accounts grouped by type. Select an account to view more details.


Category

The Category tab gives you an overview of the categories you’re using in the app. Categories with a Star will be shown in the Budget tab. These categories are ones that are not hidden by the Hide From App column. Categories that are configured to “Hide From Reports” will always be hidden. You can quickly toggle the Hide From App for categories by tapping the star or hide icon to the left of the category name.


Dashboard

The Dashboard tab shows helpful graphs for Net Worth and the Simple Business Dashboard, which is actually quite helpful for personal use. I only use it for personal finance.

Installation

Sheet setup

This workflow requires several Tiller-provided sheets. These sheets also cannot be hidden because AppSheet cannot retrieve data from hidden sheets.

  • Categories
  • Transactions
  • Budget
  • Balance History
  • Accounts (from the Simple Business Dashboard) (Setup)
  • Net Worth (Setup)

Dashboard lookup sheet

Next, copy over the AppSheet lookup sheet from my workflow.

Create a “Hide From App” Column

In the Categories sheet, create a new column immediately to the right of the Hide From Reports column and put “Hide From App” as the column header. Select all the non-header cells in the column and fill them with checkboxes. These checkboxes will hide categories from the AppSheet Budgets so you can really focus on the important categories on-the-go.

AppSheet setup

Copy and Customize the AppSheet Template.

You’ll get an error about missing data which we’ll fix soon.

Go to My Apps and open your new Tiller Budget app.

Updating the app data source

In the Data tab, you’ll see a list of all the sheets from which the app shows and updates data.

For each table, you’ll want to update the data source. I’ll update the Categories sheet as an example.

Click on the table to expand its settings.

Expand the Storage dropdown.

Open the Source Path dropdown and click browse for more data.

Choose Google if it’s available. Otherwise, click the New Data Source button to add Google as a data source.

Find and select your Tiller budget spreadsheet.

Your Source Path should now have the name of your Tiller Sheet.

Select your Categories sheet as the Worksheet Name/Qualifier.

For the other tables, you should be able to select your Tiller sheet as the Source Path without needing to go through the data linking steps again. So select your Tiller sheet as the Source Path and the corresponding sheet as the Worksheet Name/Qualifier.

Then click Save on the top right.

Screen Shot 2020-03-11 at 11.04.06 PM

The page will reload and you should be able to see your data in the simulator on the right! Verify that all the data is loading properly.

Whew! You’re done setting everything up! Now you’ll want to install the AppSheet app on your phone to see your new app. You can get the app install link by going to Users section on the AppSheet editor and opening the Links tab. Open the “Install Link” in your web browser on your phone and you’ll be presented with a link to install AppSheet and open your new app.

Anything else you’d like people to know?

I love to refine personal tools like this and will definitely continue to make modifications to my app. I want to make setting up a copy of my workflow as easy as possible so let me know if there are any parts that are difficult and I’ll try to make them easier. I also plan on incorporating feedback into the copyable demo so that newcomers to my workflow can get started with the latest and greatest updates and tweaks from my workflow.

Let me know if you figure out workarounds for the limitations I haven’t figured out yet.

Current Limitations:

  • Budgeted amounts can’t be adjusted

Is it ok for others to copy, use, and modify your workflow?

Yes! I’d love to see what else you guys come up with!

If you said yes above, please make a copy of your workflow and share the copy’s URL:

AppSheet Template
Workflow Google Sheet

App Versions

V83 (4/1/2020): Round fractional cents when hiding budget categories
v82 (4/1/2020): Show budget categories if category rollover doesn’t equal budgeted amount OR actual is non-zero. Previous logic required both conditions to be true

@richardpeng, thank you for making it very clear at the top which template this is for :wink:

1 Like

Hi @richardpeng,
I gave your App a test and want to share some feedback.

Great work! You really have found a way to make it much easier to use Tiller on mobile devices. The workflow and integration you describe is clearly documented, cleverly thought-out and useful. There also a good use of screen real estate.

I have a few minor suggestions and some bugs to point out to help you make the app even better.

  • Is there a reason you need the 3 extra lookup sheets as separate sheets? You could likely combine all that info on one sheet, so there is only one additional sheet to add.

  • On the add note page, there’s a “$NaN split” message until you start adding a note. Can that be fixed, so the page is cleaner?

  • When adjusting the transaction amounts, the decimal places are variable length, such as $1, $1.01, $1.1. Can they be fixed as two places after the decimal.

  • I wasn’t sure why you had the manual Cash tab. Shouldn’t the cash balance be possible to calculate using entered Cash transactions? Then there is no risk of the Cash transactions totals not matching the manually entered Cash tab values. And there’s less work for the user.

Again, these points are pretty minor and shouldn’t diminish what you have accomplished. Tiller users who want a functional mobile app should certainly give it a try.

Jon

1 Like

Thanks for the feedback @jonorlin!

I tried combining all the info on one sheet and found out that, within a single table, only one column is allowed to be used as a label. I was able to cleverly organize a single sheet in such a way that all the lookup data could share a single Label column.

Fixed!

I couldn’t figure out how to do this. I tried changing the various Type options and couldn’t figure out a settings combination that does that. Were you able to figure out a configuration that works as you describe?

I had been Tracking balances for manual accounts on my Cash account for historical data, but realize that I can get that data just as easily from the Transactions tab. I’ve updated the Cash account on my personal sheet to use Automated Balance Tracking and deleted the Cash tab altogether.

I also made it really easy to toggle the categories visible in the Budget by allowing you to tap the icon next to the category name.

1 Like

Hi @richardpeng,
Nice job combining the 3 sheets into just 1 AppSheet. This should make it quicker and easier to install.

Removing that $NaN makes it better too.

I don’t know enough about AppSheet to fix the decimal place issue. I couldn’t find anything in the documentation. Sorry I can’t help on that. I got to believe there’s a way to do it somehow.

I like the improvements on the Cash Transactions tracking. And the toggling the categories in the Budget is a nice touch.

Very solid app. I encourage Tiller users who want a mobile solution to give it a try.

Jon