Use One Spreadsheet for All Accounts or Many?

Hello all- I am new to Tiller and am discovering that it is a very powerful tool. I don’t want to get overwhelmed and then “quit”. So my question-

I used the foundations template to get started and linked it to my checking account. Do I open a new template for Credit Cards, Savings, etc, or just use one spread sheet to capture everything? Can I use the envelope budget within the foundations template? Are there videos that you can point me to that will show me good examples? TIA

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If you’re working with two different types of financial activity— like business & personal— I’d recommend two spreadsheets. Most people consolidate all personal accounts within a single spreadsheet.

If you’re interested in envelope budgeting, I’d recommend trying the new Savings Budget. Check this link for documentation and a video demo.

Welcome to Tiller Money, @richphilly1940.

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Welcome @richphilly1940! Tiller is definitely a powerful tool that can get overwhelming if you start off trying to do too much. I don’t know of many videos, but there is reference documentation like what Randy linked that’s very helpful. Like he said, the Savings Budget is the way to go if you want envelope budgeting. It’s just a new and improved version of the Envelope Budget that works with the Foundation template.

To answer your question, I would also recommend starting with everything in one sheet. You can always add another later if you want, and I agree that you don’t want to overcomplicate things and get overwhelmed. I actually do use two sheets, but I only use one as my budget, the other is more of a secondary sheet for other analysis on just the balances of my accounts. I wouldn’t want to be categorizing transactions in two sheets. To reiterate, I really think that starting with one sheet is the way to go. I didn’t add my second sheet until I saw a specific use case that I thought it would be good for.


Let me offer a slightly different suggestion as I too was in your situation a few months ago - putting everything into one spreadsheet seemed as if it might be overwhelming. What I did is I put only my checking account into the spreadsheet. Now after a few months, I have everything working smoothly. My AutoCat categorizations are working well after some iterative tweaking. Having only my checking account made it very manageable.

One other thing that I found useful - Tiller downloads the most recent 90 days of data. I went to my bank and downloaded all transactions for my checking account for 2020. It was easy to download from my bank. I had to work with the format so that I could paste it into Tiller, but I finally got there. I also had to be careful to only paste the transactions that were not already in Tiller so that I did not get any duplicates. This gave me an entire year of transactions to work with in Tiller and get everything setup properly.

I am now thinking about what to do with credit card purchases. They get paid from my checking account so they are in Tiller, but there is no detail. I could manually breakout the detail, but this requires lots of manual work. And, I find the Tiller breakout tool non-intuitive - it never does what I expect. This leads me to where I am today - considering a second spreadsheet that would contain all my credit card transactions.

I hope you find something useful in my experience.



Are you saying that only your checking account is linked to Tiller?

The true power of Tiller is to link all (or most) of your accounts. If you link the credit card account, Tiller will do what you are trying to accomplish. It will bring in all those credit card transactions just as they appear on your monthly credit card statement. Then, all you need to do is to categorize them. You can use Autocat to do that as you already know how it works.

I might be missing something here but I think everyone would link a checking account and credit card to the same sheet.



Yes, presently only my checking account is linked so only its transactions are downloaded.

I do think that most people link all their accounts to a single sheet. However, I think that it would be very messy. If I have 4 credit cards each with 15 transactions per month so I will have 60 transactions from my credit cards. Add this to the 30 checking account transactions that are not the 4 credit card transactions (e.g., direct debit by my utility companies, streaming services, etc.) and I will have almost 100 transactions to not only categorize, but to adjust when they appear twice (each credit card total payment will appear as a checking account transaction and then the individual transactions will appear). Thus, I must adjust each credit card total payment to be ignored (?) so that I only have the itemized credit card transactions. While I am still a novice, I do not think that AutoCat will help me much with this. This is the big problem with expense tracking, there is no quick way to do it. AutoCat helps, but I think it would be a time intensive manual categorizing effort if I tossed in my credit card transaction.

That is the reason I am thinking of doing the credit card transactions in a second spreadsheet. I can test how much manual effort is needed to categorized items. If it goes better than I expect, I can dump the second spreadsheet and start using only one.

I do not say that my approach is better than others, but it has allowed me to start with Tiller in a simple fashion and then take another step as I see everything working easily.


OK, I understand better now.

My transactions sheet has 8,900 rows. In January 2021, I had 78 transactions coming into the transactions tab. So, that is 2.5 transactions per day. I have 15 linked accounts and 19 manual accounts which is 34 total. I won’t even mention how many categories I have.

I have never used Autocat. I want to personally touch/categorize each new transaction. You mention the need to adjust when things appear twice. They do not appear twice. What you are referring to is the credit card payment you make every month. You will see the payment going out of your checking account (once) and you will see it coming into the credit card account (twice). You categorize these as transfers and you are done.

I understand you are new and want to go slow. Why not experiment? What if you add just one credit card, the one with the least amount of activity? See how the transactions come in. Then categorize them. I think once you see how this presents, you will want to add more accounts.

Just offering up my experience to help you get to where you want to be sooner rather than later.

What do you think?


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That’s right and what @Blake mentioned below you “ignore” it by using a Transfer category and categorize each transaction from the credit cards based on how the money was spent (e.g. gas, groceries, etc).

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Heather - thanks for the clarification!

This is an example of something that I hope Tiller continues to improve. Unlike Blake, I do not want to categorize items myself. I want to spend very little time with Tiller, yet have a reasonably accurate view of my spending. Budgeting is not high I may lists, I want to track my actual expenditure. (However, budgeting pretty much is a no effort task once you have an accurate view of your sending categories so more power to those who wish to invest time in budgeting!) This example with credit cards where the credit card paid amount in the checking account exactly matches the credit card import account, so I want Tiller to do the work for me and categorize them as transfers - it should be easy to automate as the amounts match exactly.

My ideal would be, after I had Tiller all set up, spend perhaps 10 minutes each month double-checking the categorizations and reviewing my actual spending.


Thanks Blake - when I get to that point, I will definitely add my credit cards one at a time.

You might reconsider using AutoCat. Even if you prefer to do it yourself for accuracy purposes, you might find there is some “low hanging fruit” that would save you time. For example, if the payee is “Acme Electric Company” it is pretty certain that this is your monthly electric bill. Because I am not currently doing my credit cards, I find that I can match about 90% of my transaction with AutoCat.

One very important good feature of AutoCat is that it will NOT change an entry for category if you have already entered one before running AutoCat (or correct one that AutoCat did wrong). Thus, there is little danger in running Autocat.


Yes this is what I am looking for as well. I’d prefer Tiller to do the majority of the work and I will just review it a few times each month.
@heather - So as a newbie, I am prepared to dive into this, and initially spend the time, but want to make sure I am doing it correctly. So if I am reading this correctly:
Use the Transfer Category when paying a credit card bill from checking and then use it again (as though I am “transferring” the money from checking and sending it to the credit card company) to show that money paid off part of the credit card debt.
For example in the Transaction sheet there would be 2 entries:
Description Category Amount Account
Bank of America Credit Card CC Payment $100 Bank of America
Payment to BOA CC Payment -$100 Local Checking Account Bank

Both Categories were “transfer” cells, just renamed to CC Payment.
Is this right? Do I need to do anything else?


Hopefully, someone more experienced with this will jump in, however here is how I believe that you need to do it with your checking account and your credit card:

  1. You will see your credit card payment as a payment transaction (from your imported checking account transactions). Categorize this transaction as a “transfer”. This removes it from the calculations (I think).

  2. You will also see all of your credit card purchases as individual payments (from you imported credit card transactions). Categorized these normally. The total amount of these individual credit card transaction will equal the single credit card payment that you marked as “transfer”. In this way your are not double counting by including the credit card total payment and the credit card individual purchases.

If anyone else who is actually doing this can jump in with more info or corrections, please feel free to do so.

@richphilly1940 @twgifford I have a bit more experience with Tiller, I hope I can help clarify how to use the transfer category type.

Lets say you have one checking account and one credit card linked to Tiller. Then when you pay your credit card bill two transactions will show up in your Transactions sheet. One will be the outgoing payment from your checking account (negative dollar amount). The other will be the incoming payment to your credit card (positive dollar amount). Both of the transactions will be the exact same amount.

To handle this in Tiller create a category in the Categories sheet, I call it something very obvious like “Credit Card Transfers”. Use the drop down in the Type column to make it a Transfer category. Now you just need to categorize both the payment transactions I listed above as this category. I do this using AutoCat. Transfer categories are treated differently, as explained in the link Heather posted above. And ultimately, if everything’s working properly the balance in this category should always balance out to $0.

Hope this helps!


Good info, but I do have a question. I understand that paying my credit card bill will be in my transactions spreadsheet. I am a bit unclear on what transactions come in from the credit card. Do all the individual purchases AND the single monthly payoff get imported? Your explanation then makes sense in that the payment transaction from my checking account and the credit card payment transaction ‘cancel’ each other via the “Credit Card Transfers” category that you described. This leaves all individual credit card purchase transactions. Did I get this correct?

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Good discussion here.

Yes, everything you see on your credit card statement comes in. The credit card purchases will come in just like your checking account transactions come in. If you make a $100 credit card payment, you will see the $100 leaving your checking account and you will see it come in to your credit card account. Code these to a transfer account. Both numbers net to zero.


@twgifford yes, you got that correct. The individual purchases and the single monthly payoff get imported.

Thanks, everyone! I am now clear on how this would work. Maybe it is time for me to be adventurous and begin adding credit cards… :grinning:

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That would be great. Go for it. I know you are going to love it. Just like you did with your checking account, you can go back further than what Tiller initially brings in (which is maybe 30-90 days). That will allow you to get more data in Tiller and hopefully cover all of 2020. Then you will have something to compare to as you proceed through 2021. Let us know how it goes. Blake

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@twgifford and @richphilly1940

You can use AutoCat to help you with categorizing too.

Usually the payments have the same description every month

Outflow from checking “Withdrawal-ach-a-chase Webchase Credit Crd (epay)”
Inflow to credit card “Payment Thank You - Web”

Use a “Description contains” and add your keywords there and have it categorize as a transfer.

Personally, I do not use AutoCat because I prefer to touch each transaction. I am way more in tune with my spending that way, and I spend less because I know I have to touch each transaction.

The beauty of Tiller is having all accounts in one sheet. Your transactions sheet does get big, but most of your power is gained with Tiller templates, pivot tables or queries. You can make as many tabs as you like, each with a different view of the data. All of your balances will be in one place, too.

One way or another, you will need to categorize your credit card expenses Its best done in one sheet, like this:

  • Date Description Amount Category Account
  • 1/1/01 Citgo $-10.00 Fuel CardOne
  • 1/2/01 Mobil $- 5.00 Fuel CardTwo
  • 1/3/01 Starbucks $-55.00 Coffee CardOne
  • 1/4/01 Ace Hardware $-21.55 Repair CardTwo
  • 1/5/01 Tesla $12,567 Salary Checking
  • 1/9/01 CardOne bill $ 65.00 Transfer CardOne
  • 1/9/01 Pay CardOne $-65.00 Transfer Checking
  • 1/9/01 CardTwo bill $ 21.55 Transfer CardTwo
  • 1/9/01 Pay CardTwo $-21.55 Transfer Checking

When you look at budgets or reports, the Transfer category expenses will add up to $0.

Good luck, be patient, and be aware of what financial questions you find you want answers to. There’s a solution for each one.

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