Recomendations for Someone New, Foundation Template w/ Savings & Debt Budget, OR Envelope Template


New to Tiller here. I’ve spent some hours now reading these forums and watching webinar videos, trying to learn as much as I can. Tiller is very powerfull and there a lot of templates and add-ons from Tiller labs. I want to start on a path that makes the most sense for me and uses the features I want.
Right now we’re living paycheck-to-payceck, and a zero-sum (envelope-style) budgeting seems to make the most sense for me, as it tells me what the money in my accounts needs to be used for and if I have enough, rather than looking at just my total balance in my bank app. It will arm me with the information I need to make discretionary decisions (yes, discretionary even for bills, can’t pay 'em all).

The Envelope Budget template seems to have been around for a while. I was learning that when I stumbled across the new Savings Budget sheet intended to be used with the Foundation Template. I’ve read the comparisons, but I’m still unsure which I should choose. I don’t want to start with one, set up my budget, categorize all transactions, and decide I don’t like it. I also don’t want to start on the Envelope Budget and down the road find out it’s superceded by Savings Budget and is no longer supported.

  • What are the future plans for the Envelope Budget?
  • If I categorize my transactions, can I copy/paste those into another sheet if I decide to switch up my workflow, or will that mess up the feeds, cause duplications, etc?
  • Are the addons (or “Solutions”), such as Debt Planner, compatible with both the Foundation Template and the Envelope Budget Template? Whats the core part of where those Solutions draw the data from, is it just the Transactions tab, or other hidden parts as well? Some addons reference other addons.

There seems to be some fragmention in many of the features here, like where and how to setup the budgets, and I’m having trouble navigating everything.

I know this is a lot to read and take in. Thank you for this product and help.


Welcome! I think I can answer some of your questions. I’m not a Tiller employee but I’ve been using the Envelope Budget template for the last few years and I’m switching to the Savings Budget for 2021.

The Envelope budget is not being actively developed, and as far as I know the Savings budget has completely superseded it. Due to the customizability of Tiller it’s likely you would be able to continue using the Envelope budget for quite a while, but new features and add-ons will likely not work well with the Envelope budget.

Theoretically yes, you can just copy the transactions into another sheet. It won’t mess up the feeds, but you could end up with duplicate entries unless you know what you’re doing. That said, I haven’t really had to do this, so I may not be aware of all of the issues involved.

In general, you can count on the solutions to work with the Foundation Template but they don’t all work with the Envelope budget. The new Debt Planner sheet should work with both, but you won’t be able to get the full functionality with the Envelope budget.

The transactions sheet is the same for both the Foundation Template and Envelope budget. The big difference, and why some of the Solutions don’t work with the old Envelope budget, is where the budget values are stored. In the Envelope Budget there is a hidden “Budget History” sheet that stores the dollar amounts you budgeted, how much rolled over, and more. In the Foundation Template, the budget data is all stored in the Categories sheet. And if you use the Savings Budget, it adds an additional “Budget Journal” sheet that takes care of rolling over from one month to the next.

My Thoughts
Ultimately, I would recommend starting with the Savings Budget. It’s the one being actively developed by Tiller, it’s easier to use (in my opinion), it should run faster, and will work with more add-ons. If you’ve read about the differences between the two here, and the Savings Budget can do everything you want, then I’d go for that.

If you really want to dig into it though, try both! You can link multiple google sheets to Tiller, so you could set up one of each and play around with them. That’s one of my favorite things about Tiller, how much you can just set things up, customize them, and make them work exactly how you want.

I’ll stop here since my reply is getting pretty long, but feel free to ask more questions!


What a great answer, @matt. You really now the ins and outs of the solution space.

The only thing I’d add, @njustin444, in support of @matt’s “you could try both suggestion” is that you won’t lose your work categorizing your transactions if you change your mind. You can either install a different budgeting approach in the same spreadsheet or you could even start a new spreadsheet and migrate your categorization using the Migration Helper in the Tiller Money Labs add-on.

At worst, starting with one approach and switching you’d lose some of your budget-change history. (Again, the hard work you do categorizing will be protected.)

As the developer of both, personally, I’m switching to the Savings Budget for 2021. While the older Envelope Budget is powerful and cool, the Savings Budget is what I wish I had built the first time around… and what I would have built had I known what I know now… then. :rocket:


Thank you both for the thorough and fast responses!
Foundation Template and Savings Budget it is then.


Thanks @randy! I can credit Tiller Community (and you and Heather) for helping me understand it all. I’m really looking forward to using the new Savings Budget.

@njustin444 glad to help! good luck with your budgeting.

Glad to hear it, @matt. Let us know how it goes!

Thanks for all these amazing answers and this tool. I love the Savings Budget tool. Now, however,going into 2021, I see some categories are negative (minimal car expenses this year!) whereas others have gone up (eg eating out/food). I’d like to reset the levels to $0 for 1/2021. Is this the correct workflow, in your opinion, and how do I do it? Thanks!