Tiller - Too much work

I’ve been using Tiller since 2018, but I feel like it’s not for me anymore.

  • I don’t view/categorize my transactions as frequently as i used to. (yes I have some set to auto), and this is something that really needs to be kept up on.
  • Amazon purchases require too much manual process to get entered and categorize. I was using the somewhat painful download and import method until Amazon broke it about a year or so ago.
  • When I do decide to examine my tiller sheets (which might be monthly) almost always, more than one source has stopped syncing which requires quite a bit of troubleshooting and logging in to get working again.
  • Launching Tiller requires too many clicks to get things syncing and transactions downloaded. In ye ol’ day of Tiller it was Tiller hosted and auto updated.
  • I don’t really do budgeting, so the real benefit to me was transaction searching and adhoc reports. But Tiller occasionally changes functionality which requires a new spreadsheet and new data (happened twice). So historical data is spread amongst different sheets.
  • I’m glad tiller opened a community and has various community templates…but almost all are based on the need for folks to budget, rather than investigate.

Maybe I’m just getting older and want a less maintenance required approach.

(then again my tiller subscription just renewed automatically this month…argh)

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I’m new to Tiller. Still in trial phase. I am leaving Quicken which has become torturous to use since they went to a cloud subscription service.

For Amazon I would think you could use their credit card and import transactions regularly. That is what I intend to do. A nice side benefit is Amazon’s card has great cas back benefits.

I also want to use Tiller for exploration. I find categories work for that but you do have to download regularly.

I see two drawbacks so far

  1. It is not intuitive to log in. They should create a simple launch button that runs a macro in background including adding in the Tiller Add on

  2. An imbedded and supported check register should be standard

Ditto for what Stuart wrote. I did get an Amazon credit card once that process got broken, so that helps. But the feeds are essentially always broken, one way or another. Venmo wasn’t working for months, one bank has never worked. I end up cursing the amount of time it takes to re-login to various accounts. However, I don’t know of a better alternative to Tiller — the old MYOB with downloads and imports worked well til they went cloud-based — so I’ll keep crippling along with Tiller.

I agree. There is too much overhead and time trying to get Tiller up and reconciled. I found Simplifi to meet my needs. It is 100% web-based, provides excellent cash flow forecasting, monthly budget planning analysts, and just launched (beta) investment reporting.

As a long time user, I definitely don’t use Tiller as frequently as I did several years ago either. I mostly account this for having a better sense of my finances and needing less detailed tracking. Many of the newer templates also don’t apply to my finances as well.

I gave up on manually tracking my Target Redcard purchases because that’s too much work!

I still appreciate having a centralized view of all of my balances in one place though! But it definitely takes some time to get them all updated.

Interesting comments. I have had all these exact same thoughts. I would add Costco to your Amazon comment. I have been using Tiller about 6 months. For now, for me, it is better than alternatives and definitely better than nothing. I am open to alternatives.

Unfortunately I am feeling this too. And I’m happy- or at least validated- to see someone else mention their frustration with Target RedCard.

For now I’ll keep trudging along with some reduced frequency of maintaining my Tiller sheets since evaluating alternatives seems like a fair amount of work too.

The Target RedCard is working again with Tiller. It started working for me again a couple of months ago.

As a long time Tiller user, I want to weigh in here.

I don’t disagree that using Tiller can be more confusing than other solutions. ( especially in the beginning) But I think that there is a good reason. Let me explain.

At its simplest core Tiller is basically just a service that connects your banks to a spreadsheet ( Google or Excel). Honestly, pretty simple in concept.

It gets confusing when you add in all the potential things you can do in a spreadsheet. It is the power of the spreadsheet that then makes Tiller so dynamic. Do you want a basic budget, then you can use it, Do you want some more capability with the Savings Plan sheets, it’s there. Do you want to build a custom envelope sheet like it did, you can do it too. Gift planning, rental property… you name it you can build it. Unlike most of the other systems that force everyone to manage finances the same way, Tiller gives you choice.

But, I get that with that power comes the potential for confusion.

This is why this community is so important and valuable. There are lots of folks here that are willing to help; you just have to ask.

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Hi Rich, I don’t think I mentioned anywhere that I thought it was “more confusing than other solutions”. My gripes were mostly with the tedious login process, syncing, and the frequent account troubleshooting. I do appreciate the flexibility Tiller offers (remember I’ve been subscribed for a long time), but lately I just want ease of use, especially if I’m not checking the data every other day.

I have a free emoney/advisor account and I’ll see if it fits my usecase. I will miss my custom dashboard however.

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I’ve been a Tiller user twice. The first time was a year or so ago and I stopped using it because I preferred Excel to Google Sheets and Excel felt like an afterthought to the Tiller developers. I then went to Money In Excel, which obviously has great Excel support, but much less functionality, especially in its use of categories, and it also lacked the vibrant, growing community that Tiller has. I then gave Tiller another try and used Google Sheets this time, which required an adjustment at first but now I really like them. My timing was good because it wasn’t long after that Microsoft announced that it was discontinuing Money In Excel. After that, Tiller seems to have embraced Excel much more, although I’m still on Google Sheets.

Since then, I’ve alternated between really liking Tiller and being frustrated with it. The early days were much more difficult but as I gave Tiller a chance, stayed patient (hard for me) and kept an open mind, I’ve really come to appreciate its design and philosophy. I think you have to come at it with a DIY (Do It Yourself) mentality and be willing to learn and experiment. I’m on a Tiller high today because I was able to resolve issues with inconsistencies on the Balance History sheet and some issues with the Account sheet. Having worked through and resolved the issues, with some help from the support chat, I feel like I learned much more about how the system works than if I hadn’t had the issues to begin with. I’m much more comfortable going into the sheets and directly changing transaction, account and balance data without fear of breaking something irreparably.

This analogy may be a bit of a stretch, but I feel like the Tiller experience of having to get your hands dirty and figure out how things work is like the radio-controlled model airplane builders of 30 years ago or more. The modeler had to spend hours hand-crafting a model before they can fly it instead of buying one off the shelf or online and just taking it out of the box and using it. The extra effort with Tiller forces you to be more hands on with your money than you might otherwise be.

All that said, I think Tiller requires patience and an exploratory mindset. I can say that now I feel much more aware of and in control of my money and the fact that I had to work though issues along the way makes the journey more worth it. Except for when I’m doing major troubleshooting, like recently, I think 20 minutes divided over about three times a week is all the time commitment it would take to stay on top of things. Oh, and if you haven’t tried the Net Worth sheet from the community solutions, it rocks.

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Different strokes for different folks. Was a 20+ year MS Money/Quicken user. It was gold standard forever from an all-in-one personal finance solution. Now unusable because it’s so frustratingly slow. Maybe that’s because I had years of data in it…don’t know. All I know is that when I discovered Tiller I almost cried tears of joy because it gave me a robust solution where I could use the solutions I wanted and ignore the ones that don’t apply to me. If you don’t like or need a particular solution, then simply don’t download it or delete it if you already have it.

Tiller has also solved other use cases I would not be able to do without the customization capability of Sheets/Excel. If you are a tinkerer, then this tool is the Gold Standard and nothing else comes close. If you want more of a hands off experience that you don’t have to do much then something like Mint or Quicken’s newer branded, web only tool is probably more your speed.

I have used a number of solutions, personal spreadsheet based, Quicken locally loaded, Quicken Cloud based where I consistently encountered data corruption and loss, Personal Finance, Mint, Microsoft Money in Excel and now Tiller.
I feel Tiller provides a lot of flexibility with simple analysis. I do have issues downloading my personal bank accounts as its a regional Credit Union thus receives soft 3rd party support to overcome the issue. Great with credit card downloads.
I wish there were as many Excel modules as there are for Google Sheets. The Web could be a bit more organized identifying the type of spreadsheet they are linked as many times I will look at the details only later to find out its Google based. Could easily have clear links or verbiage which identifies type of spreadsheet required or create a parent link which leads to either Google or Excel solutions. I’m staying with MS Excel.
I joined Tiller this year with two years of transaction history and my spreadsheet is now taking awhile to open. Plan on starting a few spreadsheet in 2023 with fewer personal formulas to see how that impacts performance over time.
Although my bank download issue is a bit cumbersome and time consuming, I will be staying with Tiller at this time. Clear view of my transactions and finance position. Great for budget tracking with category and group control.

Should have added, great support from the Tiller team. Feels very personal. You will not get that with other programs

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How many transactions do you. I have transactions that go back to 2019 ( over 10k) and don’t experience any slowdowns. I would suspect that there is a formula that is slowing things down

I have 3600 transactions thru 2019. Dataset only includes complete transactions from Jul 2022 as I only imported the basic transaction information when I started using Tiller. I did try a number of Tiller modules and my transition workbook will start with the core tabs. Hopefully it doesn’t get bloated as my goal is to try and not shed the earlier transaction data.

Like many, I have been an off and on Tiller user. Here’s what I’ve found.

When I am diligently tracking my expenses using Tiller, I am far better with managing my expenses in my life.

When I am tracking my expenses using one of the free tools (or not tracking at all), I’m not in control of my expenses and I’m not saving as much as I should.

For me, I like that Tiller requires you to put effort into tracking your expenses because it forces you to really see what you’re spending. If you are just getting an overall spending breakdown per month, you’re not actually aware of what all you are buying.

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I have been using transaction tracking and budget software for 25+ years; started with Quicken, moved to Money, then to Mint + spreadsheets and now Tiller. Here is my perspective.

First off, I agree that Tiller is not for everyone. It took me multiple months to create/edit the sheets I wanted to manage my money. I am a spreadsheet nerd but I learned a lot from the this exercise. I have shared some of my creations with the community and the support from the community has been fantastic.

As for Stuart’s comments, many of these are not unique to Tiller at all…

  • Having to regularly categorize- definitely not unique to Tiller, but I do believe Tiller’s auto cat is better than any other solution I have used.
  • Syncing issues- I used Mint for 10+ years and it’s connection issues were way more frequent and problematic than Tiller. Also, there was very minimal (I’m being kind) support from Mint (yes, I know it was “free” but with ads). The solution was almost always “enter the account again”. By the time I left Mint, some of my credit card accounts had 10 instances for the exact same account. So far, Tiller is done the best job of keeping it’s connections vs any of the other solutions I have used.

As for Stuart’s other comments…

  • Too many steps to syncing- I am assuming this is because you don’t log in very frequently. I have my Tiller spreadsheet bookmarked (Google sheet) and when I open it, it’s updated with latest transactions and balances because I have Auto Fill enabled. Every once in a while it is not updated, and I realize I have been logged out of Tiller (not sure why) so Auto Fill is not happening. It literally (just timed it) takes me 10 seconds to relog into my Google account for Tiller and it then fills in. I do wish “Auto Fill” would stay on when you log back in. I will enter this as a feature request.
  • Amazon purchases- I don’t understand this at all. I am a heavy Amazon user and I use the Amazon credit card. My purchases are automatically downloaded and I categorize appropriately. What are you wanting Tiller to do?
  • Tiller update causing new spreadsheet? I have been a user for ~1 year and this has not happened to me. I follow the guidelines when creating new sheets so maybe that helps?

The reality is that it takes effort to stay on top of your finances and if someone is not willing to do this, no solution will work for them. I view it similar to people’s expectations on robot vacuums (I own 2). If you are expecting them to be completely autonomous without any prep or effort from you, you will be disappointed. The reality is you need to make your house “robot vacuum friendly” before it starts (pick up small things, good cord management, shut off rooms that will lead to issues- e.g. my daughter’s bedroom and bathroom), empty the canister (even if it’s self emptying), find it and put it back on the dock when it gets stuck or lost, and don’t expect it to stay clear of dog poop even if it says it will (don’t get me started on people who complain about a robot vacuum that runs over dog poop- they have a bigger problem). However, if you want your floors to be vacuumed consistently, your alternatives are do it yourself or hire someone to do it. For me, my robot vacuums are by far the best solution, but you need to understand their limitations and what your responsibility is.

I feel the same way about Tiller. My experience is that, for people who are spreadsheet literate, it is by far the best solution if you want to track your finances but you need to put in some effort. If you’re not willing to put in the effort then maybe tracking your finances is not that important.

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