Struggling to make Tiller work for me

So this has (kind of) been discussed, but I’ve hit the point of overwhelmed where I just need my own discussion…

After 20 years, I am taking over doing our budget from my wife. I created the spreadsheet we currently use, and after trying SO MANY other budgeting solutions, this feels like all the right pieces are there, and I just don’t know what I’m doing.

Our current spreadsheet we use is a loose budget. It has the amounts we SHOULD spend every month on things, and then we copy a tab every month and update the starting balance and go from there.

Here are my current things I can’t figure out how to work around:
1.) While we budget monthly, we both get paid every two weeks, and so there is planning/budgeting that goes into that. I can’t figure out the smartest template, tool, etc to represent that well…
2.) We both get paid on the last day of the month (although that can fluctuate), and so my end of month paycheck is the income for the first 2 weeks of the next month… So right now for example my monthly budget looks like I haven’t been paid at all for April based on the transactions.
3.) Where the heck is my ACTUAL current balance represented in my budget? All I see are budget vs actual, but the actual isn’t REALLY actual… that’s just based on a transaction… I want to see what is in my account and then plan against THAT for my forward moving budget… I realize that once I get everything assigned properly as it comes in it should all line up, but that really doesn’t help getting started.

I’m sure there is more, I don’t even know what I don’t know yet… I swear I would just pay someone who has all the answers just to jump on a Zoom call and help me!


Hi @collinandholly ,

I do not “have all the answers”, and I believe that the budgeting style that is best is the one a person is comfortable with and can succeed with (ie: there is no one right solution). If you are using Excel, I would be happy to have a conversation with you outside of this thread on use of Tiller Money for Zero Based Budgeting that provides some structure for you and might resolve a lot of your concerns. But if you are using Google Sheets or are already almost there with another method I do not want to distract you. Let me know if you would like to discuss more.

Separately, one thing that is somewhat independent of your budgeting method is the 2-week pay cycle. What I did early on was to build up a buffer account (not my emergency fund… an emergency fund is not for budgeted spending) that has 1-2 weeks of pay in it. The buffer account allowed me to switch to a monthly budget and not have to worry so much about cashflow issues within the month (other than scheduling my mortgage in the first half and my other large payment in the second half). For my monthly Budget I track and manage cashflow at the month level (not at the week level).
If you do not have such a buffer, then I would suggest to make that one of your financial goals similar to an emergency fund. In the meantime, you are correct, if you are budgeting paycheck to paycheck then then cashflow (and therefore the actual account balance) within the month is a very important input.

I am sure there are others in this community that are doing bi-weekly budgeting like you are. Hopefully a couple of them will find this thread and can post their actual solutions to your 3 questions. Good luck and do not give up!



Hi @collinandholly have you had a chance to check out any webinars? There’s a 3-part series with a Q&A here: Webinar: Get a grip on your finances series there’s also the Tiller Money Foundations webinar here: Tiller Money Foundations Webinar

I think it might be helpful to watch someone use the template(s) in real time and you can get some ideas there. That’s how I learned how to use most of the Community Solutions. You can just search “webinars” in the search bar for the entire Community - there’s a bunch.


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