Setting up for the new year - how to change categories without breaking stuff

So, now that autocat is so robust, I want to get more granular with my categories for 2021. I wouldn’t mind retrofitting 2020 but my main focus is 2021.

I’m working in the foundation template.

I went in and created the new categories in the category sheet and then changed a few transactions and then realized I had broken a whole lotta stuff. Fortunately, just before I started, I copies the entire sheet. So when I saw all the breakage, I immediately went back to the copy and linked it up and all is no longer broken.

SOOOOOO what’s the best way to make my changes for 2021 without breaking stuff.

I want more category groups and more categories. Without breaking stuff.

If there’s an easy way to re categorize 2020, cool. If not, cool. (My Tiller life officially started in January of 2020 and I’d like to keep going rather than create a new sheet for a new year.)


There are a few approaches here.

  1. Start fresh in a brand new sheet and get it set up for 2021
  2. Use the “rename” workflow in Tiller Money Labs (under Tools) to rename categories - haven’t tested this myself, so not sure how well it works yet, but we are also covering this tool in Community webinar next week

3. You can also add months for 2021 - which you’ve probably already got, but in case you need it here’s the guide:

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  1. I really want to have the history of 2020 in the same sheet as 2021 so is starting new a good way to do that?
  2. cool on the renaming tool! i think i knew about that and forgot. i will absolutely do the webinar. maybe there will be tips for splitting categories to get more granular :slight_smile: I’m still not clear on how to do that.
  3. ok on adding months, i guess i assumed that was possible but maybe i’m missing something else. i’ll study the link, thank you!

If you want the 2020 history alongside your 2021 budget, then no, starting new won’t give you that.

BUT If you rename categories, your 2020 year will look different when retrofitted for the 2021 categories. If you’re okay with that then I recommend just using the rename tool.

If you want both 2020 AND 2021 budget data you will need to add the extra columns to the Categories sheet per the help guide I sent.

Honestly, renaming is not my main issue.

But, I’ll check out the renaming tool and the other link and then come back and if I cannot figure out how to do what I want, I’ll come back and rephrase.

Why do you want to keep both years in one sheet? after a couple of years all that data will make your sheet calculations very slow, even a simple =a1+a5 takes a while in my sheet of 3 years, I deff recommend starting a new sheet per year. I can’t wait for 2021 to start a new sheet!

But, I am so looking forward to the comparisons. How does June of this year stack up next to last… when did I pay that annual bill last year and what exactly was the amount… stuff like that. I hate the idea of flipping between sheets and I love the history.

So far, I haven’t felt any slow. I figure if/when I do, I can easily split up into yearly sheets.

or am I just living in fantasy land?

@susandennis I’m also a fan of having all of that historical data at my fingertips. I have 10 years of transactions, so I definitely notice some slowdown on calculations, but we’re only talking 2-15 seconds of delay.

It’s certainly possible to split up your spreadsheet into yearly spreadsheets once performance becomes an issue.
[EDIT] Follow the guide @heather linked below to archive your Tiller spreadsheet.

While reading through this thread and considering your posts, I’m thinking that it might be best to set things up as rolling 2-year spreadsheets e.g. 2018 and 2019, 2019 and 2020, and 2020 and 2021, and so on. That will allow for the year to year comparison while keeping the data a little leaner. Thanks for the thought-inspiring topic!

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Ohhhh that’s good!! If/when my sheet gets too heavy for me to lift, I am absolutely going this route. May even do it before hand. Good thinking!


A slightly easier workflow is to just make a copy of the existing linked Google Sheet (with all the years of historical data) and then just remove the historical data from the live updating sheet.

We’ve got a guide on archiving a sheet once it becomes too large/slow here:

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That’s a much more elegant solution. Thank you, @heather!

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