Visualize Spending as Hours of Work With This Free Google Sheet

Here’s a simple formula for Google Sheets that translates your spending into the hours you had to work to perform to afford everything.

man learning google sheets

We just made a simple yet illuminating free tool to help you visualize spending in a new way.

It’s an array formula for Google Sheets that translates the cost of your purchases into the number of hours you had to work to afford them.

We made the formula after seeing this “life pro tip” on Reddit:

On Reddit, the tip sparked a lively debate about how we assign value to the things we buy. Much of the time this process is unconscious.

After all, money is somewhat abstract.

But when you can easily visualize the cost of everything you buy as hours of life paid, spending takes on a whole new dimension.

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” – Thoreau

How it Works

Get the Spreadsheet and Formula

You can see how this works and test it with your own hourly wage with a free public demo version of the Tiller Monthly Budget.

Here is the array formula that calculates your spending to earning ratio in the demo sheet:

=arrayformula(if(row(E:E)=1,"Hours to Earn",(if((D:D)="Credit Card Payment","",(if((E:E)<0,(E:E)/-33,""))))))

You can also copy the formula out of the demo public sheet and into your own Tiller-powered Google spreadsheet.

(Note that you’ll have to choose “File > Open as Copy” in the Google Sheets menu to edit.)

You may need to slightly modify the array formula to work with your spreadsheet. The video above outlines precisely how to do this.

To calculate your hourly wage, it’s best to use your after-tax take-home rate. In the formula above (circled in the image below), the hourly rate is $33.

Modify that number to reflect your actual after-tax earnings.

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Here are the steps as outlined in the video above.

1 – In the example Tiller Monthly Budget, add a new column between the “Amount” column and the “Account” column. The new column is column F.

2 – In cell F1, add the array formula below:

=arrayformula(if(row(E:E)=1,"Hours to Earn",(if((D:D)="Credit Card Payment","",(if((E:E)<0,(E:E)/-33,""))))))

3 – Now name cell F1 “Hours to Earn,” as seen in the example.

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This array formula will ignore any payments categorized “Credit Card Payment,” in column D, as these are transfers and not expenditures. It also looks in column E for any payments above one dollar. The array formula will fill the whole column below with data.

In your Tiller sheet, if your Amount is not in Column E you’d want to update the formula to refect that. Same if your Categories aren’t in column D.

That’s it. It’s a simple yet powerful formula

We’d love to hear what you’ve created in your Tiller sheet that you think others might want to know about. Send as a note at


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