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A Day to Celebrate A Tool We Know, Love and That Makes the World Better.
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A Day to Celebrate A Tool We Know, Love and That Makes the World Better.

Heather Phillips
October 17, 2016

There is a certain tool that’s been a part of almost every big decision or development in the last 37 years.

Corporations use this tool when they plan their future. Amazon, Apple, and every company, big or small, rely on this tool every day to make decisions about new initiatives and strategies.

Wedding planners, home builders, restaurant owners, and others who get things done use this tool day in and day out to track and make decisions.

The family offices of some of our country’s wealthiest people rely on this tool to protect, invest, and give away their billions.

Dating back to 1979, it’s been a critical part of the toolkit for doers, planners, strategists, analysts, entrepreneurs, facilitators, inventors, managers, composers, and developers.

This tool is the spreadsheet.

Yes, the simple, humble, powerful, and extraordinarily capable spreadsheet.

Cheers to efficiency

Gutenberg changed the world with an affordable printing press that allowed information to be distributed inexpensively. Spreadsheets have changed the world by allowing anyone to organize numbers and text into a table of relationships and calculations. Spreadsheets can take several very basic calculations and turn them into a powerful combination of complex logic that helps us understand, think, and project in ways that simply were not possible before.

That’s why we’re so darn excited that today is National Spreadsheet Day. A day dedicated to spreadsheets! The post offices aren’t closed. Most schools are still open. It’s not a day as well known as Halloween and Thanksgiving, but today, Spreadsheet Day, is a chance to celebrate the way sheets of all varieties have changed our world.

When we started Tiller, of course we knew that spreadsheets were immensely powerful and had a front and center role to play in anyone’s finances. We’ve been using spreadsheets ourselves to manage our money for years. We’d seen others using spreadsheets. Empirically we knew this to be true. But where were the numbers?

If we’re actually number-crunching, spreadsheet-loving people, shouldn’t we pull some more numbers together on the impact spreadsheets have had on personal finance over the last 37 years? Well, yes, it’s about time.

The benefits of using spreadsheets for money management are astounding

Working with an independent research firm, we surveyed 100 people who use spreadsheets to manage their personal finances. These are all people who had even shopped around and tried other apps and services. They’d also been using a spreadsheets to track their money for at least three months and sometimes for years. These were not Tiller customers. In fact, since we’re still relatively young, many or all of these people didn’t know about Tiller, yet.

What did we find? It knocked our spreadsheet socks off.

92% of people who switched from a personal finance app to a spreadsheet believe they are now more aware of their spending habits.

89% of people who switched from a personal finance app to a spreadsheet say they now have more control over how they track their money.

83% of people who switched from a personal finance app to a spreadsheet say spreadsheets are easier and simpler to use.

81% of people who use a spreadsheet to track their finances say they have better reporting options compared to whey they used a personal finance app.

96% of people who switched from a personal finance app to a spreadsheet are satisfied with using a spreadsheet to track their finances.

We knew people enjoyed, even loved, spreadsheets as a tool to manage their money and their spending, but the strength of their conviction was a surprise.

Spreadsheets vs the other guys

Sure there are great apps for lots of things, including personal finance. So why spreadsheets?

What we’ve learned from our customers is that spreadsheets are powerful because they can be customized and adapted to reflect how you think, can accommodate your work flow, and can generate the analysis you care about most. What we’ve see with Tiller, and through this research, is that when people create and adapt a tool to the ways they think, the tool sticks.

It’s not uncommon for us to hear from customers who have been using the same spreadsheet for ten or fifteen years. It’s their companion along their financial journey that helps them reach their goals. No wonder people love their spreadsheets so!

Some years ago Jared Diamond wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning book: Guns, Germs, and Steel. Diamond tracks the development of society since the Ice Age and the impact fundamental forces like guns and gunpowder, germs and plagues, and steel and metal have had in the evolution of the world.

If this book were revised, maybe a new title might read: Guns, Germs, Steel, and Spreadsheets!

So let’s celebrate today, National Spreadsheet Day! Break out the champagne. Toast this tool that makes our lives better and easier. A tool that allows us to do incredible analysis at the speed of light. That informs us, guides us, makes us smarter. The tool that helps us be smarter with our money. Thank you spreadsheets!

What’s your story with spreadsheets? We’d love to hear it.


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