Longtime readers of this site know how much of a Microsoft Excel nerd I am.
I have been tracking my finances using spreadsheets for close to 20 years now.
While there are some things that I outsource, like tracking my investments with Personal Capital, budgeting is something I want more control over.
That is why I created my own spreadsheet budget, because I couldn’t find something that fit for my situation.
But I’ve always had a problem with spreadsheet budgeting.
That problem was time.
As anyone who knows about budgeting with a spreadsheet, it is a manual process that takes a lot of time.
You have to create the spreadsheet. You have to enter in all of your expenses. Then you have to make sure the formulas work.
With many hobbies and a growing family, my time was beginning to stretch too thin to work with a spreadsheet budget.
So I tried looking at programs, like Mint, Quicken and Microsoft Money Sunset.
All are OK, but they each present various issues.
There had to be a better way. And then one day, I stumbled upon it.
It’s called Tiller.
Tiller is a financial spreadsheet app solution that will allow you to use a customized spreadsheet to budget your money and automate things, saving you time.
I’m sure you’ve heard about it if you frequent any personal finance forums.
Though you might not know it because people call Tiller by a handful of names, including:
- Tiller HQ
- Tiller Money
- Tiller Finance
- Tiller Spreadsheets
- Tiller Sheets
- Tiller App
No matter what name you call it, the result is a better, more efficient way to watch your money and stay on budget every month.
In this Tiller review, I’ll share with you how to start using Tiller sheets to finally take control of your finances.
Tiller Budget Review
- Ease of Use
- Saves Time
- Customer Support
Tiller Money is an excellent option for people who enjoy using spreadsheets to budget their money. Tiller automates your transactions, saving you a ton of time, but still allows for you to completely customize your Tiller spreadsheet to your liking. It's a good starting point too for those just beginning to budget. You can sign up for free here.
How To Use Tiller Money
Getting To Know The Tiller App
Tiller started as an idea to help you keep track of your finances in a time efficient way so you can enjoy your life and spend time doing things that give you meaning and purpose.
The CEO, Peter Polson, founded Junxion and was the CEO of Dashwire, both successful companies that were bought by larger rivals.
He has since spent his time creating and developing Tiller.
And others have noticed how great the Tiller app is. It won the 2017 FinTech Budgeting App of the Year award.
Today, Tiller has thousands of satisfied customers, helping them organize their finances and build wealth.
But enough about the background of Tiller.
Let’s get into the budgeting software so you can see how amazing it really is.
Overview Of Tiller Budget Spreadsheet
A Tiller budget is based in Google Sheets which is the Google alternative to the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program.
Note that you do have the option of using Microsoft Excel with Tiller, but I’ll get into that more shortly.
If you’ve never used Google Sheets before, don’t fear.
It is very similar to Excel, but with more options to allow full control over your spreadsheets.
The first thing to know about Tiller is it is customizable.
While you start off with the Foundation Template, you can create a Tiller budget sheet and make your own that fits either your business or personal spending and income categories.
- You can make your spreadsheet as general or as detailed as you want.
- You can delete categories as needed.
- You can add charts and graphs as well.
And Tiller links to your bank accounts using Tiller Money Feeds.
By linking your bank accounts and credit cards, all of your transactions are automatically pulled into your budget daily.
All you have to do is review the transactions and categorize them.
And having that real-time progress will hold you accountable every step of the way.
Tiller currently can link to over 21,000 banking institutions, and is adding more all the time.
On the off chance your credit union or small community bank isn’t supported, you can send Tiller an e-mail and let its support team know so they can work on adding it.
Now that we have the basics, let’s go into more detail about Tiller and how it works.
In case you are pressed for time, you can check out this great video overview about Tiller below.
Otherwise, my full Tiller review follows.
Tiller Foundation Template
To get started with Tiller, simply create your free account and link it to your Google account.
This is done for security reasons.
Once you complete this step, you have access to the Foundation Template.
You can begin by customizing it to fit your needs, or you can leave it as is.
I recommend you leave it as is until you get a feel for how everything works.
Next, you link your bank account and credit cards so Tiller can pull in your transactions daily.
This automation is what sets Tiller apart from your typical spreadsheet.
But if you don’t want to automatically update your transactions, you don’t have to.
You can skip the linking of accounts and enter everything manually.
Next, you categorize your transactions.
Tiller offers a handful of categories at the start, but you can modify, add or delete categories.
You can also take advantage of the AutoCat feature here too.
This skips the manual categorization and tells Tiller how to categorize your transactions.
Personally, I like to manually update the categories as it forces me to look at my budget in more detail.
Below is a screenshot of some of the main features Tiller offers.
Additionally, you have options to split transactions as well.
For example, if you go to Target and buy some groceries and some household items, you can split the transaction in Tiller so that each spending category is accurate.
Once this is complete, you are done.
You can view the brief summary Tiller provides about your spending overall or give you areas in which to monitor especially closely.
You can review your budget, create charts or graphs for things you want to track, or include add ons from the Money Labs.
Every day, you will get an email with new transactions that post to your budget as well as your current balances.
You can even have this email sent to someone else as well.
I like to have it sent to my wife so she understands what is happening with our money.
Of course, you can even build your own Tiller spreadsheet and skip the Foundation Template if you want to build a budget from scratch.
But for most users, the basic template is the best option to begin tracking your money.
Tiller Money And Excel
When Tiller Money first started out, your only budgeting option was to use Google Sheets.
As a die hard Microsoft Excel user, this concerned me.
But I learned that Google Sheets are just as good as Excel and the rest is history.
But today, thanks to technology, Tiller Money now works with Microsoft Excel.
When you create your account with Tiller, you have the option to create your budget in Excel or Sheets.
If you want to use Excel, there are a few things you need in order to make it work.
- You need a free Google account. This is so Tiller can apply its security to your Tiller budget.
- You need Excel 2016 (or newer) installed via an Office 365 subscription. This is the only way to get Tiller Money to work with Excel at this time.
If you meet those two requirements, you will have no issues creating your budget in Excel.
Tiller calls its Tiller Money Labs its playground and rightfully so.
This is where they play around and create new budget templates, upgrades, and other spreadsheets to help you have total control over your money.
Here are some of the popular Money Lab options you can use.
- Spending comparison reports
- Spending money tracker
- Year to date comparison report
- Weekly spending analysis
- Category tracker report
- Estimated quarterly taxes template
- Yearly cash flow report
- Yearly budget template
- Net worth template
- Net worth snapshot
- Small business dashboard
- Category rollup report
- Debt snowball spreadsheet
- Profit and Loss report
- Holiday gift planner
These all work with a simple add on to your existing budget.
For example, if you want to not go into debt for the holidays, you can use the holiday gift planner to make sure your spending stays in check.
Alternatively, you can use the net worth template to track how much your net worth grows as you go each month.
By keeping an eye on this number, you can see how over time your financial life is improving.
Advantages And Drawbacks
Of course, as good as Tiller is, it’s not perfect.
After using Tiller for a bit, here are some of the things I love and don’t love about it.
Fully customized. You make it look and feel like you want.
Automated. Save time by having your transactions added for you. Currently Tiller works with over 21,000 financial institutions.
Flexibility. Works on both Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel.
Templates. No need to start from scratch. You can skip that and have a budget running in less than an hour.
Tiller Money Labs. Customized budgets, reports and templates to let you know just about anything you want to know about your money.
Free email updates. I get an email every day with our account balances and my wife gets it too so every is in the know.
Support. Weekly webinars, a vibrant community support forum, and excellent customer service answer all your questions quickly.
Need some level of comfort with spreadsheets. Working with spreadsheets is a step for some users.
Manual entry for some features. Some Tiller Money Labs templates require manual entry.
Tiller Money Security And Privacy
Privacy and security are utmost importance to you and to Tiller as well.
When it comes to privacy, you are the only one who has access to your Tiller spreadsheet budget, unless you give someone else access to it.
Even the people at Tiller cannot see your spreadsheet.
And when it comes to selling your personal information to third parties, Tiller doesn’t.
They charge a subscription fee which makes you their customer, not advertisers.
This means you will never see ads when you are working on your budget.
All your personal information is kept secure by Tiller and is not shared with anyone or any company.
The same idea holds true to security with Tiller.
To access your bank information, Tiller has read-only access.
This means no one can make any transactions in your account. They can only see the data.
In addition, Tiller uses Yodlee to for security reasons. Yodlee is used by 9 of the 15 largest banks in the US to run their websites and secure customer data.
Finally, Tiller uses 256-bit AES encryption, which is what most banks use as well.
In a nut shell, your data is safe and Tiller takes your privacy and security serious.
How Much Does Tiller Cost?
Anyone who signs up for Tiller automatically gets 30 days free to try it out.
You have access to everything during this free trial to make sure it meets your needs.
After your free trial ends, Tiller costs $6.58 a month or $79 a year.
You can cancel at any time as well. You are not locked in.
And as an added bonus, students can take advantage of the Tiller student discount, which offers a free annual subscription.
Compared to other popular budgeting apps out there, Tiller is less expensive and offers more features.
Alternatives To Tiller
As of this writing, there are a few main alternatives to Tiller.
Here they are and why you might want to or not want to consider them.
Tiller vs. You Need A Budget
You Need A Budget (YNAB) is the gold standard when it comes to budgeting.
People who use YNAB swear by it and are fiercely loyal.
But there is a steep learning curve with it.
For example, I love personal finance and budgeting and I had to watch the video tutorials a number of times to get everything to click.
This isn’t to say YNAB isn’t good. It is great.
But if you want to start budgeting today, YNAB isn’t for you.
Currently YNAB costs $119.99 a year.
Tiller vs. Quicken
Quicken is a budgeting software program.
It costs between $34.99 and $74.99 annually, depending on how many features you want.
It is fully automated, so you just download your transactions and Quicken does the work for you.
Graphs and reports are available. You do have some customization control but not much.
The biggest issue could be the number of people that report lost data when they are required to update to a new version.
Also, the company that owns Quicken has its hands in many different financial services businesses, so there is the risk of them sharing your information with its partners.
Tiller vs. Mint
Tiller vs. Mint is the heavyweight fight as Mint is the most popular option for budgeting out there.
This is because Mint is free.
You link your accounts and set up a budget.
When you first start out, you have to categorize transactions at first as many times they will be wrong.
And while you don’t pay a fee to use it, there is price to pay.
The app has advertisements throughout, trying to get you to sign up for a bank account, credit card, debt consolidation, etc.
This is how Mint makes money.
They basically sell users information (not any personal information) to advertisers so they can show relevant ads to you.
Another downside is reliability.
I tried Mint for a few years.
Every week it seemed as though they lost connection to a bank account and I needed to reconnect it.
It was maddening.
All I wanted was my budget but I spent most of my time updating and relinking accounts.
Tiller vs. Microsoft Money Sunset
This is the old version of Money, but it has no online access now and is free to download.
This means everything is manual.
You can install some computer scripts to pull some information, but this is technical and doesn’t always work.
I tried this product for a few months, but realized it didn’t offer any benefits so I quit using it.
Tiller vs. Money In Excel
Recently, Microsoft announced Money In Excel for users.
This is very similar to Tiller.
You get a basic spreadsheet and Money In Excel will automatically download your recent transactions.
The cost for Money In Excel is free, but you do need to have a subscription to Office 365.
In other words, you pay for it through your monthly subscription.
The other downside is the only option is a basic budget. And while you can customize it, you don’t have the support and hand holding when doing so like you do with Tiller.
Tiller vs. Excel Spreadsheets
These are what most people used before Tiller came along.
They are great because you can make your budget spreadsheet exactly how you want it.
You control it 100%.
The downside to this is that you need to know Excel so you can create the budget in the first place.
The other issue is that it is completely manual so you have to enter every single transaction you make.
While you can add some automation, this is best left to people with extensive knowledge of Excel.
Tiller vs. EveryDollar Plus (Ramsey+)
EveryDollar is Dave Ramsey’s envelope budgeting system.
It works by categorizing your money so you always know how much you have to spend in any given category.
There is a free version of the app, but it limits you to the number of categories and transactions you can enter.
By paying for the EveryDollar Plus version (being rebranded as Ramsey+), you have full access to all of the features as well as access to budgeting videos from Dave Ramsey.
The cost is free for 14 days, then $129.99 a year.
As you are allowed to try it for 30 days for free, there is no harm in trying Tiller out and seeing for yourself if it’s the right budgeting tool for you.
If you have spreadsheet skills and you are a financial nerd, Tiller may be your dream come true.
If you are a basic budgeter and not much of a spreadsheet person, Tiller will work well for you.
I love the fact that I can open up my sheet first thing in the morning and see my downloaded transactions.
I then just update the category and see where I stand financially in less than 5 minutes.
I also love that I can have a daily or weekly budget update emailed to my wife to keep her up to date as well.
Tiller is by far the closest I have to come to complete happiness when it comes to budgeting.
And that is important because it increases the likelihood I’ll stick with it.