How Tiller Changed My Personal Finance Perspective
The tools we use and the way we manage our finances determine our perception about money and the way we spend it. Heather shares her story about how Tiller changed her relationship with and perception about money and how she spends it.
Since I started using Tiller I think about money differently. I wrote about my personal finance journey on The Financial Diet, and it’s been a tumultuous one, as I’m sure it is for many others. I’d used an Excel spreadsheet to track a budget before when I was living paycheck to paycheck, but since my financial situation improved, I didn’t feel like keeping a budget was necessary.
When I started my freelance consulting business back in 2015, the “perhaps I should budget” thought returned to my mind. Money from clients was flowing in and expenses, both personal and for business, were flowing out, but I really had no idea how much I was spending.
A reminder to spend with intent
I don’t spend money like crazy. I’m pretty frugal, and I really try to spend with intention. That’s one way using Tiller has changed my perception about money. Every time I consider whether I’m going to buy something, I think, “how would I categorize that in Tiller? Okay, that would be dining out. I made a promise to myself to stop doing that as much, so I’m not going to do it.” My behavior changed around my spending, and the way I think about money.
For example, I recently took a day to myself, or I “made plans with myself” as I like to say, and I went for a hike. While hiking I started to think, “I’m going to be hungry after this, I really want to stop in this lovely little gourmet grocery store and get a sandwich.” I thought about my Tiller Sheet. It doesn’t lie, but then another thought occurred. I want to spend in line with my values, and taking this day for myself is a gift. So I will go to that store, get my sandwich, and I’ll categorize that as a gift… to myself. So I did it, and it was great. I really enjoyed that sandwich, bag of locally crafted potato chips, and local organic kombucha. I didn’t think twice about it because categorizing it that way lined up with my values. Of course, I won’t always think of dining out as a “gift” to myself because it won’t always be that special.
Categorize to get clear on my finances
I’ve been categorizing my transactions in Tiller, diligently, for about 7 months now, and the other day I decided to have a look at the status of my finances, which was something I had yet to really do. I’ll be honest, I was a bit scared. When you go out on a limb to start a small business and take a 50% pay cut, there’s a chance you’re going to end up broke. Fortunately, I was able to use my monthly pivot table to see that after it was all said and done I saved an average of about $900 each month for the first two months in 2016.
That made me feel really great. Now I didn’t turn around, go out and start spending more, but it assured me that I can succeed, from my perspective, financially, with this little business and still treat myself when it feels right.
*As a note, I am on the Tiller team and I operate my own digital strategy consulting business as well. I would use this tool even if I wasn’t associated with Tiller because it has been amazing for bookkeeping both personally and as a small business.