A Simple Way to Quickly Get Cash Transactions into Your Budget Spreadsheet

While traveling in Nicaragua, where it’s primarily a cash based system, I’ve experienced the challenges of getting my cash spending into my Tiller budget spreadsheet. I’ve grown to make tracking my spending a daily practice, and it’s important for me to capture these transactions.

Initially, I’d just write a note in the Notes app on my iPhone to indicate where money was spent. Then once a week I’d go through it, enter it into a separate sheet, convert the Nicaraguan Cordobas to U.S. Dollars, then add those lines to my Transactions sheet. Once there, I could continue with my normal categorization process.

After two or three weeks I began to realize this was tedious, and I asked the Tiller team if they had any advice on how to get my cash spending more quickly into my Tiller Sheet. They shared a quick and easy method with me, which I’ll be sharing with you in this post. I’ve excluded the step of converting the currencies for simplicity in this example.

It starts with a simple Google Form

First, create a Google Form. You can easily do this with your Tiller Sheet open by clicking File > New > Google Form. A new browser tab will open where you can create the form. In this example I’ve titled my form “Cash” and given it a short description.

Step 1 is creating the Google Form

Step 1 is creating the Google Form

Next, we’ll need to create the data fields that we want to capture. In the most simple example I’m only creating two fields: Description and Amount. I configure both of these as “short text” fields. If you wanted you could set up a “Category” field in between the Description and Amount inputs to go ahead and categorize your cash transactions as you enter them. If you want to do this step as well, I recommend you create a list that mimics the one in your Category Setup sheet in your Tiller Sheet.

Once the form is ready the next step is to choose where the data will go when the form is submitted. Click the ellipsis in the top right of the form and choose the “Select Response Destination” to open a dialog where you can select your existing Tiller Sheet. The form will indicate that it’s linking to the spreadsheet and give a confirmation when it’s ready.

Now I can navigate back to my Tiller Sheet and see the new tab along the bottom for this Cash Sheet. I can also update the title of the sheet by double clicking the tab and typing the new title “Cash.”

Test out the form from mobile

Google Forms work really well on any smartphone. To test it out on my phone, I click the “send” button in the form and email it to myself. I open the email and click the link to open the form in my phone’s browser. I’ll enter in the cash I spent on some Chinese takeout that I bought here. After I submit, I see that it enters the transaction into my new Cash sheet on my Tiller spreadsheet.

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To make sure that it’s easy to copy the transactions from the Cash sheet to the Transactions sheet, I’ll create a “Category” column in the Cash sheet and then move it in between the Description and the Amount column. Now the column order matches my Transactions sheet. In this example I also reformat the date column to use a standard date format rather than the full date with timestamp. Now I can copy/paste this transaction into my Transactions sheet and categorize from there.

Step 3 is formatting the data to go into the Transactions sheet

Step 3 is formatting the data to go into the Transactions sheet

Create an icon on your phone home page

I can save more time and make it even simpler by saving the Google Form bookmark to the home screen on my phone so I have easy access anytime I spend cash.

This process has made it so much easier to track my cash! Do you track your cash too? What’s your workflow? Send us a line on Facebook, Twitter or via the chat window on our website.