One of the benefits of Tiller is that you can link multiple financial accounts to one or more Tiller Sheets. However, having transactions from multiple accounts funneling into your Transactions sheet can get a little confusing if you use one account to pay off a balance or transfer money to another account, and both are linked to the same Tiller spreadsheet.
So how do we manage this without double counting that money? These kinds of transactions shouldn't be classified as spending or income. Instead they should use a "Transfer" category type.
In this help article we explore what the transfer category type is and how it might be used, and some cases where you don't want to use it.
Understanding the Transfer Category Type
By default, all Tiller templates that include the categories capability have a Transfer category, that uses the Transfer type, on the Categories sheet. You can customize this default Transfer category and even add other categories that use the Transfer type to keep your transactions organized.
In the Tiller Budget template, transfer category types do not appear on the Budget sheet as budget items, but the sum of all categorized transactions that use a transfer type are accounted for in the Net Cash Flow summary on the right.
The sum of your transfer categories should be zero once both sides of the transaction are complete.
Transfer Category Type Use Cases
Paying a Credit Card Bill
When you pay the current balance on a credit card from your checking account, both the negative transaction associated with money leaving your checking account and the positive transaction associated with money entering your credit card account could be categorized as "Credit Card Payments" using the Transfer type.
If you’re working to pay off high balance credit card debt, please check out our Debt Snowball template that includes all the features of the Tiller Budget template plus a Debt Progress sheet. There are some specific workflows associated with categorizing transactions for making payments to pay off the high balance vs simply paying the current statement balance.
If you track your cash, you can categorize the bank ATM withdrawal using a Transfer category, "ATM Withdrawals". The cash you receive should be manually added to your Transactions sheet and then also categorized as an ATM Withdrawal transfer type. Read more on how to track cash with Tiller.
A transfer category type can also be used to track reimbursements. If you are often reimbursed by your employer you could categorize each purchase using a “reimbursement” category that’s set up using a transfer type and then when you’re reimbursed split that transaction (if necessary) to round out the transfers with another “reimbursement” categorized transaction. If you purchase an item that you decide to return, categorize both the payment and the credit as a “Refund" transfer type category.
Uses Cases Where You Wouldn't Use the Transfer Type
There are some cases where you wouldn't want to use a transfer category for transactions where both accounts are linked.
Paying Off a Mortgage or other Asset Loan
Mortgages and car loans are debts, but once they're paid off they're considered an asset. We often also have to account for these payments as expenses in our budget. So how do we deal with both the debit and credit transactions when both accounts are linked to your Tiller spreadsheet?
Use the hand "Hide from Reports" option
Create a category that's an income type and hide it from reports by setting the "Hide from Reports" option to "Hide" for that category. Then categorize the credit (positive amount) associated with money entering the loan account using this new hidden "income" category.
Hiding it from your reports ensures that it's not being counted as actual income in your budget, but allows you to categorize both transactions without having a transfer that doesn't ever sum up to $0.