Tiller Foundations Guide

Build a solid financial foundation with Tiller using these steps and tips.

Heather Phillips avatar
Written by Heather Phillips
Updated this week

Welcome to the Tiller Foundations Guide. Use this guide as a self paced resource for building a strong financial foundation with Tiller.

Mostly likely you've already started a free trial, but if not, sign up at https://my.tillerhq.com/signup

ℹ️ You do not need to switch email addresses or sign up under a different account to try both Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. You can use either authentication type (Google or Microsoft) and still use both platforms under the same subscription/account.

Table of Contents

Step 1: See everything in one place

Now that you’ve started a trial you can connect all your financial accounts to Tiller and easily start seeing spending and balances for all your accounts in one place. You can add all types of accounts including credit cards, investments, loans, and more.

How to connect financial institutions to Tiller

  1. Log in to the Tiller Console at https://my.tillerhq.com

  2. Click "Add accounts" near the top or if you've already added some accounts and want to add more scroll down to the Connected Account Summary and click “Add accounts”

  3. Search for your financial institution and select it from the list.

  4. Enter your username and password for the institution. The same username and password you'd use to log in to the account directly online.

  5. Once successfully added you should see the institution name and a list of accounts appear on the Console under the Account Summary.

  6. Apply account nicknames to accounts on the Console before you create your first spreadsheet. Read more here.

Troubleshooting account connection issues

If you have issues connecting a financial account, review our guide here and keep going with the next steps for accounts you can connect.

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Step 2: Dive into ultimate control of your money

Once you have connected accounts to Tiller you’re ready to create your first spreadsheet and dive into the most powerful way to see, know, and manage your money. You can create up to five Tiller-powered spreadsheets. You can mix and match accounts between them and try both Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel.

How to create a spreadsheet:

  1. Login to the Tiller Console at https://my.tillerhq.com

  2. Under "Create a spreadsheet" choose "Start with Google Sheets" or "Start with Microsoft Excel" to open or download the Foundation Template on your preferred platform.

    1. Note, if you’ve already linked one spreadsheet you’ll need to click on “Create a spreadsheet” to open the section for access to the template buttons.

    2. If you're new to spreadsheets we recommend Google Sheets.

    3. If you're familiar with spreadsheets, and unsure which platform to choose, review this guide.

    4. If you choose Microsoft Excel be sure to save the Excel file to a location where you'll remember how to find and open it or which user's OneDrive you used to uploaded it if stored on OneDrive.

  3. Follow the instructions on the Install Help sheet (first tab along the bottom) in the spreadsheet template to install Tiller Money Feeds and fill your spreadsheet with your latest transactions and balances.

  4. Follow the tips below to learn how to keep your bank data flowing into your spreadsheet and get set up to use the Foundation Template.

If you prefer not to use our Foundation template:

You can connect Tiller Money Feeds to a blank workbook or your own spreadsheet.

  • Review our guide on connecting Tiller's financial feeds to your existing Google Sheet.

  • Review our guide on connecting Tiller's financial feeds to your existing Excel Workbook.

How to find your spreadsheet later

After you've linked your first spreadsheet to Tiller it's name will appear in the Linked Spreadsheets section on the Tiller Console (https://my.tillerhq.com).

Google Sheets are stored on your Google Drive. You can click a Google Sheet's name on the Tiller Console and click the "open" button in the upper right corner of the spreadsheet's details.

Microsoft Excel workbooks are usually stored locally on your computer or on OneDrive. You can open the workbook from the location where you saved it after downloading the Foundation Template.

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Tiller Tip 1: Keep your data flowing

You want a tidy place to check in on your spending. Making sure the data is reliably in that spot each day is crucial for building financial confidence. This happens in two steps in Tiller: Refresh & Fill.

Tiller can automatically refresh many accounts behind the scenes about once a day, but you’ll still need to use Tiller Money Feeds to fill the data into the sheet.

You also may need to manually refresh some connections if the institution enforces two factor authentication (2FA) or has disabled our ability to automatically refresh.

How to refresh your accounts:

  1. Log in in to the Tiller Console at https://my.tillerhq.com

  2. Scroll down to the Account Summary to check the last refresh times for your institutions.

  3. Click "Refresh" next to any institution that hasn't recently refreshed.

You can also do this step in the Tiller Money Feeds add-on for Google Sheets clicking the refresh icon in the sidebar next to "[N] Feeds need refreshing." If you don't see the indication that a specific institution (i.e. "Feed") needs refreshing your accounts have likely recently refreshed and don't need to be refreshed again.

After you’ve confirmed all accounts have recently refreshed, fill your sheet with the latest data.

How to fill your Google Sheet:

  1. Open your Google Sheet

  2. Open the Extensions menu at the top of the Google Sheet

  3. Choose Tiller Money Feeds (near the bottom of the Extensions menu) > Fill sheets (sign in if necessary) or launch the add-on and click "Fill" if the button indicates "Updates ready"

    1. Note: the Fill sheets and other menu items may take a few seconds to load under Tiller Money Feeds

  4. Hover over the results to see how many balances and transactions were filled

How to fill your Microsoft Excel workbook:

  1. Open your Excel workbook

  2. Open the Data ribbon

    1. If you don’t see the add-in under the Data ribbon, go to the Insert ribbon > My add-ins to open it

  3. Click the Tiller Money Feeds icon

  4. Sign into the add-in if necessary

  5. Click “Fill"

Hello, Money

A great way to stay in tune with your spending is to opt in to Hello, Money. Get your latest spending, transactions, and balances delivered to your Tiller-subscribed email each morning. By default you'll be opted in to receive refresh information only about your connected institutions. If you'd like to receive your latest transactions and balances for individual accounts you can configure those settings on the Tiller Console.

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Tiller Tip 2: Control your categories like never before

Tired of those generic categories that don't fit your lifestyle or are hard to edit? Now you can organize your spending just the way you want.

To keep it simple the Foundation Template comes pre-filled with a few common categories and groups you can immediately start using to categorize your transactions. If you don’t want to spend the time thinking too much about what categories to use we recommend you start categorizing with these.

If like most spreadsheet nerds you want ultimate control over your categories you can easily customize them to fit your unique needs. Modifying your categories list on the Categories sheet allows you to be as broad or as granular as you need for your financial situation.

You’re not locked into our example categories or groups.

  • Repurpose any of the example categories by typing over them.

  • We recommend keeping it simple.

  • Categories should be unique (no duplicates).

  • Each category should be assigned to a group in the Group column.

  • The only supported category types are Income, Expense, and Transfer. Please don’t add custom Types to the data validation, it will break other sheets.

  • If you’re unsure of how to group things, just stick with our example groups as a start and clear any that don’t apply.

  • Don't worry about the month columns E through P just yet. We'll get to those later.

We recommend a simple structure for your categories and groups because it's easier to remember as you’re categorizing and the more likely you’ll stick with it in the long run.

How to customize your categories:

  1. Log in to the Tiller Console at https://my.tillerhq.com

  2. Open your Tiller-powered Foundation Template spreadsheet

    1. Microsoft Excel workbooks may be stored on your OneDrive or locally on your computer, the Tiller Console will display the name of linked workbooks, but there isn't a way to open them from the Tiller Console.

  3. Navigate to the Categories sheet (tab along the bottom)

  4. Overwrite any categories that don’t apply by typing over them in column A

  5. Double check the Group in column B to see if the group still makes sense. Overwrite these too.

  6. Double check the Type in column C to make sure these match the category type. Read more about Transfers here.

  7. Add new categories to the bottom of the list (you can sort later) rather than inserting new rows for new categories.

How to categorize transactions:

  1. Navigate to the Transactions sheet (tab along the bottom)

  2. Use the dropdown menu in the Category column to assign a category to the transaction or automate using AutoCat (read on for details!)

To automate or not?

We’re not going to pretend like we know what category you’d want to use. A lot of tools do this and they get it wrong and that’s really frustrating. So we leave it for you to decide.

There is power in manually categorizing your transactions, especially if you’re trying to get a handle on your spending. Knowing that you have to touch each transaction will transform the way you spend money. Try it for yourself, at least for a month, if there are some areas where you’d like to cut back.

But if you’re busy and short on time, AutoCat can do it for you. AutoCat allows you to build a custom rule set based on your transactions for how you want them categorized.

The simplest option is to build rules based on keywords in your transaction descriptions.

  1. Log in to the Tiller Console at https://my.tillerhq.com

  2. Open your Tiller-powered Google Sheet

  3. Launch the Tiller Money Feeds add-on from the Add-ons (or Extensions) menu

  4. Click on the Create AutoCat sheet option in the sidebar

    1. Choose "Run AutoCat" if you don't see the "Create AutoCat sheet" in the sidebar to install AutoCat.

  5. Click “Install AutoCat” to add the AutoCat rules sheet to your spreadsheet

  6. Click the “Suggest rules for past 90 days” option in the sidebar

  7. Review and modify the suggested rules & select a category for each one you want to keep or click the X in the upper right for any that you don’t want to add.

  8. Click “Create & run” in the sidebar when you’re ready to create some example rules and run them to categorize some transactions.

  9. Under AutoCat Run Settings toggle on the Auto Run on Fill to have AutoCat automatically categorize transactions when you fill new data into your spreadsheet.

  1. Open your Tiller-powered Excel workbook

  2. Open the Tiller Money Feeds add-in from the Data ribbon (or Insert ribbon > My add-ins)

  3. Sign in to the add-in if necessary using the account you used to subscribe to Tiller

  4. Click the "Install AutoCat" button

  5. Quickly review your transactions sheet for common merchants where you always use the same category (e.g. mortgage, utilities, etc)

  6. Identify keywords from the transaction's description that are the same every time

  7. Navigate to the AutoCat sheet and type some keywords into the "Description contains" column for a row for one rule

  8. Assign a category to the rule in the Category column on the AutoCat sheet

  9. Click the "Run AutoCat" button at the top of the Tiller Money Feeds add-in sidebar

  10. Repeat steps 5-9 to build your rule set and categorize transactions.

  11. Under Settings in the add-in sidebar toggle on the Auto Run on Fill to have AutoCat automatically categorize transactions when you fill new data into your spreadsheet.

You can also build more complex rules to have AutoCat do more than categorize transactions. It can do things like clean up descriptions, add notes, and more.

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Tiller Tip 3: Find out how much you actually spent

“Where is my money going?” That’s the million dollar question, right? Maybe you’re also wondering, “Can we afford to buy that new house?” “Will we survive on one income?” “When can I retire?”

The biggest key in knowing how much you’re spending and whether your financial goals can be reality is putting in the effort to categorize your transactions.

You can do this manually, and you will learn a lot just with that exercise, (it’s well worth the time!) or you can have AutoCat help.

You don’t need to categorize all the historical data in your Transactions sheet. You can categorize this week or this month and go forward. The more you categorize, the more insights and awareness you’ll build.

If you want to start budgeting, and are unsure what your spending targets should be, we recommend categorizing last month up to today. In our next tip, we’ll explore where to set those budget targets.

How to review your spending:

  1. Log in to the Tiller Console at https://my.tillerhq.com

  2. Open your Tiller-powered Foundation Template spreadsheet

  3. If you haven't already be sure to categorize some transactions so there are spending insights available to review

  4. Navigate to the Spending Trends sheet (tab along the bottom)

  5. Explore the insights available in this sheet to understand your spending (read more below)

Use the top area (first 5 rows) to see how much you spent yesterday, last 7 days, and the last 30 days. Get a visual of your last 30 days of spending with the chart in the upper right.

Get a quick net worth calculation based on the accounts that are linked to this spreadsheet.

Change the Insights reporting area by choosing a different time range in the light green cell in cell C6.

Review your Total Income, Total Expenses, and Cash flow (income minus expenses) for that selected time period.

You can also see your average daily expense amount and a quick reminder on how many transactions need categorizing in the selected time period.

Lastly, you’ll get a group and category breakdown chart so you can see exactly how much spending or earning per category has been categorized in that time period.

If it’s emotionally hard to see your spending in one place because you haven’t done this before, pretend these are a friend’s accounts, not yours. This will help you be a more objective and kind observer.

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Tiller Tip 4: Keep your money on track

It doesn’t matter if money is abundant or scarce in your life, budgeting can be a helpful learning experience that guides you toward the adjustments you need to make to help you achieve your financial goals.

The Foundation Template makes it easy to set up a simple 12-month budget in minutes and quickly gain insights about your cash flow.

How to set up a budget:

  1. Log in to the Tiller Console at https://my.tillerhq.com

  2. Open your Tiller-powered Foundation Template spreadsheet

  3. Navigate to the Categories sheet (tab along the bottom)

  4. Enter budget amounts into column E for each category

  5. Adjust individual months as needed by editing the category amount for that month and the next month if it doesn't need that adjustment.

  6. Click on the Monthly Budget sheet (tab along the bottom) and review your budgets, actuals, and available for each category. Note, you may need to select the current or appropriate month using the dropdown option in the top right of the sheet.

  7. Click on the Yearly Budget sheet to get the big picture view of your entire year by scrolling right to review each month.

  8. Adjust your Budget targets on the Categories sheet as needed

Review your monthly budget sheet weekly to see how you’re doing. The planned cash flow in the top left shows what you’d have left over if everything goes according to plan. The cash flow to date is most helpful at the close of the month to see how you actually did.

Review the Available column on the Monthly Budget sheet to see how much is available for any category at any point during the month. This is your budget minus your actual spending. If it's a positive number that means there is money available to spend in this category. If it's negative and red, it means you've spent more than you budgeted and you should try to hold off on spending more in this category.

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Tiller Tip 5: See all your account balances organized your way

You probably have various accounts of all types scattered across the internet at several different institutions. What would it be like to see all those organized neatly in one place? How about not having to log in to all those individual sites every time you want to see a balance?

Organize your accounts:

  1. Log in to the Tiller Console at https://my.tillerhq.com

  2. Open your Tiller-powered Foundation Template spreadsheet

  3. Navigate to the Accounts sheet (tab along the bottom)

  4. Select an account from the dropdown menu in Column A

  5. Assign it to a group by typing it into the Group column

  6. You don't need to assign a class to your accounts unless it's displaying incorrectly on the Balances sheet (e.g. an asset is showing up under liabilities).

  7. Navigate to the Balances sheet (tab along the bottom) to review.

Common groups for accounts are things like “Credit cards, Checking, Investments, Kids College” and the like.

Account balances spreadsheet

Think of the Balances sheet as your financial scorecard. If this is the first time you’re seeing everything in one place, it can be exciting, but maybe also daunting. Don’t be discouraged if you’re faced with the reality of debt here. Use it as a motivator to help you build a plan around getting out of debt.

If there are accounts that Tiller can't automate you can track the balance manually using the Tiller Money Feeds add-on. Read more on how to do that here.

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Tiller Tip 6: Explore the perfect solution for you

So many personal finance tools and apps out there try to box you into their way of doing things. Tiller gives you the control to understand your money your way. The power of a spreadsheet is its unlimited flexibility and that means endless possibilities.

We recommend the Foundation Template as the default because it’s easy to understand, set up, and use.

But there are many options in the Tiller Community to help you level up your Foundation Template based on your financial goals and needs.

Debt Payoff Planner

If you're interested in using Tiller to help payoff your debt, check out the Debt Payoff Planner.

Community-built solutions for Microsoft Excel:

Excel Community Favorites:

Community-built solutions for Google Sheets:

Google Sheets Community Favorites:

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Tiller Tip 7: Gaining clarity and staying confident

Now that you’ve completed the setup of your Tiller Foundation Template here are the key takeaways for using Tiller to help you gain clarity and stay confident about your financial future.

Stay engaged

Staying engaged is the number one key to achieving your financial goals and dreams. Give it your attention, remember these takeaways, and control of your money is within reach.

Keep the data flowing

You may need to visit the Tiller Console at https://my.tillerhq.com to refresh financial institutions so we have the latest available data to pull into your spreadsheet. Don’t forget to click the “Fill” button in the sidebar of the Tiller Money Feeds add-on or add-in to fill that new data into your spreadsheet.

Stay on top of categorizing

Categorize new transactions at least once a week. Do it manually with ease or build your awesome rule set to have AutoCat help out. This is key to gaining clarity about where your money is going and empowers you with the information you need to achieve your financial goals and dreams.

Tune those budget numbers

At the end of the month review your Monthly Budget sheet to check in on which categories were under and over budget. Consider adjusting budget amounts on the Categories sheet accordingly for the new month. Review the cash flow to date amount near the top left of the Monthly Budget sheet to see how you did.

Maintain motivation

Whether you’re a budgeting pro or finally decided to face your money situation, it’s comforting to know you’re not alone. There are others out there in the same situation.

Feeling supported is a big motivator toward achieving your financial goals and dreams. Finding community when you feel lost, confused, triumphant, or just want to share something cool that you built makes all the difference.

The Tiller Community is a vibrant, supportive, and inclusive space to ask questions, share wins, and explore all the possibilities for using Tiller to gain control of your financial life.

The Tiller team is here for you too.

If you ever run into issues connecting your bank, understanding how to use the Foundation template, or have a basic Tiller question, you can reach us via the chat tool in the lower right corner of the Tiller Console at https://my.tillerhq.com

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