The Tiller Templates I Use For My Weekly Personal Finances Review

Keep a clear view of your money with a weekly personal finances review and these free templates from Tiller

I love learning about other people’s money routines. Regarding my own finances, I try to keep everything as simple as possible.

I’ve automated most of my savings. I now only use a couple of credit cards and a Chime debit card to pay my bills, buy groceries and household goods, and for my “walking around money.”

I work with a family financial planner for taxes, insurance, and low-fee, long-term investments. (Yes, I’ve dabbled in crypto, but not as a serious part of my financial planning.)

I don’t even keep an intricate budget. However, I am very highly engaged with tracking my expenses and cash flow. The bedrock of my personal financial practice is a simple weekly review.

I can’t go more than a week without reviewing my recent transactions, balances, and trends. I usually do this on Sunday or Monday morning.

I also review my account balances for unexpected activity, which keeps me informed of my basic net worth.

I’ve always preferred to do this in a spreadsheet, so Tiller has been perfect for me. Here is exactly how I review my finances with Tiller each week.

  1. In Google Sheets, I open my highly customized Foundation Template. (I use a version initially mocked up for a future Tiller project.)
Screen Shot 2023 03 09 at 3.23.37 PM 1
I use this template but these aren’t my real numbers

2. I refresh my bank feeds as needed and fill my spreadsheet with any new transactions and balances. 

3. I categorize any transactions skipped by AutoCat. I enjoy this little ritual. It takes less than a minute and has absolutely made me a smarter spender. Plus I always know where my money went each week.

4. While categorizing my transactions, I scan my Transactions sheet for unusual recent charges or activity. I find something that needs attention about once a month, usually random fees or ghost subscriptions.

Category Detail
Actually, these are my real transactions in February

5. I review my Monthly Calender Budget to see how much spending money is available before I hit my self-imposed limit at the end of the month. (I love this view.)

Monthly Budget Calendar Screenshot
Likewise, not my real numbers

6. I look at my Category Tracker Report to see if I’m overspending on groceries or dining out. Tiller Community Solutions has many ways to visualize spending trends, but for a weekly review, this is my favorite.

The timeframe is easily customized, so I can see what I spent during the week or month to date.

Category Tracker
Category Tracker Report for Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel

7. I review my account balances in the Balances sheet to make sure everything is as expected. Sometimes I review the Balance History sheet.

8. Finally, I update and review my list of upcoming notable bills and payments. I keep these tallied in a simple checklist with the total amount and due date. Things like summer camps, tutors, and expected car maintenance go here. I like seeing this weekly.

I know I could use a more advanced budget for these upcoming expenses, but this basic approach works for me. I use a simple cell reference formula to pull in the balance of the savings account I’ll use to pay these bills.

Right now it’s negative, so I better get back to work.

What works best for you? Do you emphasize keeping a budget, or do you simply focus on tracking spending? Or are you somewhere in between? Share your thoughts here in the Tiller Community!

Edward Shepard

Edward Shepard

Marketing Lead at Tiller. Writer. Spreadsheet nerd. Get in touch with partnership ideas at edward @ tillerhq.com.

Notable Replies

  1. Like you, I focus on expense tracking. I do the full budgeting 1x per year. After all it’s a budget and budgets are expectations. I may recast my budget 2x per year if and only if there is a material change that causes all my reports to show large budget variances and thus the budget has become meaningless. The vampire subscriptions are something I really pay attention to; eg. I juggled my internet sites and saved $250/year. I use the budget to really understand the ratio of fixed expenses to discretionary and make sure I’m spending in the right areas of my life.

  2. The primary reason I subscribed to Tiller money in 2018 was to to get a handle on my expenses prior to my early retirement scheduled for January 2020. I needed to be certain that I could maintain a positive cash flow on a fixed income. My wife handled paying the bills but unfortunately she passed away in 2016 leaving me both clueless and in a panic regarding my financial and cash flow situation.
    I knew what my income would be while working and had a good projection of what my fixed income would be upon early retirement.
    Using the categories in the early version of Tiller money allowed me to sort out my income verses expenses. After about 3 months of collecting data from the various categories I was able to get a better understanding my cash flow and determine the necessary categories to develop a 50/30/20 budget.
    I look over my income to expenses quarterly to see if any significant tweaks need to be made. In January I run a category report and use that information to adjust the budget for the upcoming year.
    My budget is a subjective expectation of income to expenses. Since I maintain a mostly positive cash flow that can still include savings I don’t have a need to scrutinize my budget status monthly.

  3. I was happy to see these posts because I am using Tiller in the same way that the previous posters have mentioned. I hope that the expense comparison sheet provides more flexibility on the time periods that you can compare. Good discussion thread.

  4. Avatar for Exo3 Exo3 says:

    I second above comments. Relentless tracking is what I’m mostly focused on. At this point i don’t sweat going over the allocated budget. I’m more focused on trends i.e. do I consistently go over my budget in a given category? If it’s a “one-off” I don’t really care. Otherwise I ask myself: should I change my spending habits in this category OR is my budget not realistic anymore?

    I also like tracking long-term trends. I have a tab where I copy & paste category totals at month end, month by month and look at averages every quarter. I may manually adjust this tab and exclude large one-time events (e.g. chimney repair) to avoid skewing the overall trend. This is also a foundation for my budget thresholds.
    At this point I have +2 years worth of data which provides valuable insights about our habits and their seasonality (e.g. I expect to go above my average for spending on drinks, events during summer months etc.). It also helps with evaluation and execution of the 50/30/20 goal.

  5. Avatar for mjsef mjsef says:

    I am also an ‘expense tracker’. I am fortunate though in not counting pennies so it is more about ‘can I keep expenses under control (equal to last year)’. Also helps me plan for big shifts in my status like moving or kids going to College. Similar to [mkarbowsky] I am transitioning to retirement soon and doing a fair amount of planning. In fact, my relentless expense tracking has helped me know EXACTLY what my expenses will look like post kids and when I transition to retirement. So rather than using some made up benchmark for post retirement expense levels, I have the number dialed in based on prior spend, less kids, + more travel etc. Gives me a lot of confidence that I am where I need to be!

Continue the discussion at community.tillerhq.com

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