Two: Making sense of your financial data

Kudos to you!

First, congratulations are in order. :tada: Choosing to get informed about your spending data is the first step toward a brighter financial future. As with any challenging task, know that assessing where you are now is only the beginning and it will get easier with practice.

Digging into financial data can bring up a lot of difficult emotions, especially if this is your first time really taking a close look. We all have our own money stories and anxieties that can cloud our progress. With this challenge, we encourage you to keep moving forward. And remember, you’re not doing this alone!

Keep it simple

You might be tempted at this point to reorganize your categories and groups. As you start digging into transactions new categories or a new group/category structure might come to mind. Allow yourself a little wiggle room to adjust as needed, but remember to try and keep it simple and stick with the basic structure you started with at the beginning.

Example Observations

To help you make your own observations about your spending from last month up to today here are some anecdotal examples.

Last month I spent the most in the Discretionary group. It makes sense to me because I wanted to upgrade my gear collection for winter backpacking.

I spent the most in the Giving group because of the holidays and making sure the kids felt excited about their Christmas loot after a challenging year being separated from friends and family due to COVID-19.

Most of my spending was in the food group, specifically restaurant spending, which doesn’t make sense to me because I felt like we did cook a lot, but I guess we got more take out than I thought on top of all the groceries we stocked up on.

At first I was shocked by how much we spent on Amazon, but then I realized we were quadrupling down on toilet paper before it went out of stock again.

So far this month, I’ve spent the most in the Living group which makes sense because my rent and a lot of living expenses like my light bill have already been deducted from my accounts.

Your turn to share!

Was there anything surprising or notable about your spending patterns from last month to today? What else did you learn by reviewing your spending? Share some observations below.

Click “reply” below to share.

Resources & Support

Resources

Here are a few guides you may find useful as you work through the checklist for this segment:

Getting support

If you need help with completing any of the checklist items, including addressing account connection issues and errors, please reach out to our support team via the chat tool in the lower right corner of the Console at https://sheets.tillerhq.com/auth/google for the fastest response. The topics here are intended to be motivational, not for troubleshooting and the team via Chat can help you faster and more effectively than anyone here in the community.

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I learned that I really need to get a hold of our grocery spending! I also realized that estimating what we will spend on fuel for our vehicles is tricky these days.

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Our Amazon spending is like a kitchen junk drawer.

I see the numbers on the spreadsheet and most likely could point to the stuff we buy but wonder why are we spending that much?

Are there cheaper sources for these items?
Are we just pressing buy now because it’s easier than sourcing from somewhere else?

Do we really need this stuff RIGHT NOW or could it wait?

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I overspent a lot on Black Friday. A lot of it was an avoidance to having to pay for shipping. I also over spent my Christmas budget.

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Same - I’ve been on Tiller since April and over the time I’ve realized I need to categorize even Amazon purchases, and it’s a pain! I want to stop using Amazon but I know that isn’t 100% realistic.

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Groceries and gifts were higher than expected! We’re giving ourself some leeway though to make life easier and more fun where we can though :slight_smile:

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I first subscribed to Tiller back in August and I really didn’t know what to do with it. This is my third automated budgeting app I’ve used, and I can say that this 30-day challenge has made me see how important it is to track, to track well, and how empowering it is when I’m able to see everything clearly. This year has been a year of tumult and good change, and the final month of the year reflected that. Recently divorced, I’ve got a sense of freedom that I’ve not had in a long time, and I wanted a new start as a result. So must of my purchases have been dedicated to home decor and improvement, as well as clothing. It’s so nice how Tiller provides so many “looks” at my spending. I’m really glad I’m doing this challenge.

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By categorizing everything manually, rather than using the AutoCat feature (which I see that we’ll get to in step 7), I was reminded that some purchases straddle more than one category, like Costco for groceries and who knows what else.

It looks like splitting transactions is outside the scope of this challenge, but it led me to rediscover that useful feature in the Tiller Money Labs add-on which lets you correctly tune those multi-category entries.

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My highest expenses over the last two months all made sense - auto (major repairs); home improvements (down payment on garage), and misc (Christmas) - all of which has led me to rethink establishing a gifts/holiday budget and to setting aside a certain amount each month so that I’m planning for the December bills (reminiscent of banks/Christmas Clubs).

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My wellness spending has slowly declined over 2020. That makes sense due to COVID, but it’s upsetting to me. I used to spend a lot on yoga classes and hope to see that increase again this year as, hopefully, things can open back up - I really don’t like zoom/online based yoga…

I have a really hard time not overspending on vacation… I took some time off the week of Christmas and way overspent.

Since I’ve been using Tiller Money for several years now I also have some insights from years past.

I spent way less on Christmas gifts this year than I did in the last 3 years.
Grocery spending was way up over 2020 whereas restaurant spending was way down.

Interesting what a pandemic does to your financial habits… :thinking:

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Thank you for the tip on the expense splitter! Will come in handy breaking down our Amazon spending!

Oh Amazon! You Beast!
Besides that…

I kind of like that I’m grouping groceries with health care items and wine. When I used Mint I would carefully split everything out but I found focusing on overspending in a category was only helpful to an extent. My biggest win so far with Tiller is noticing how many ways we are saving/investing.

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Most of my spending last and this month is on Debt which is great to me because I have been focusing on paying it off! I was surprised at my all-inclusive automobile costs (insurance, maintenance, fuel, tolls, etc.). Making me consider an auto refi! Also, I was happy to see that we did a good job maintaining our budgets around living expenses. I’ve hunkered down in the pandemic which allows me to stick to those more easily.

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