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E222- Great New Tool For Finances

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Denis O’Brien [0:37]
Welcome to Episode 222. Great New Tools For Tracking Finances. Hey money clan, a very warm welcome to the Chain of Wealth podcast. I’m your host, Denis O’Brien.

Katie Welsh [0:50]
And I’m Katie Welsh.

Denis O’Brien [0:51]
So Kate, I found a super cool tool, which I’m totally nerding out over. And this episode is going to be just chatting about some stuff you can do with it.

Katie Welsh [1:1]
I don’t really think I’ve seen me so excited over a new budgeting tool and actually quite a while. So

Denis O’Brien [1:7]

Katie Welsh [1:8]
It is a good one.

Denis O’Brien [1:9]
Yeah, definitely. So before we dive right in, if you haven’t already, let us know what budgeting tool you’re currently using. We’d love to hear let us know it’s @chainofwealth on Instagram or on Twitter. So definitely let us know what tool you use and why you use it. Alright, Kate, are you ready to dive right in?

Katie Welsh [1:28]

Denis O’Brien [1:29]
Fantastic. Let’s do it. Alright Kate so I gotta be honest, this new tool that I’ve started using is totally cool. And I think the biggest reason that it’s cool is I’m a total spreadsheet nerd.

The Episode

Katie Welsh [1:40]
So before we go on and talk all about how great this new tool is, can we please give a shout out to Stephanie from Poorer Than You for giving the recommendation.

Denis O’Brien [1:39]

Katie Welsh [1:40]
And what is this new tool called?

Denis O’Brien [1:43]
So the new tool itself is called Tiller HQ. Well, it’s just called Tiller but like the website is And what the tool is, is it’s a plugin to bring your finances from literally like 20,000 different financial institutions into Google Sheets. So the reason that I like it is because it automatically connects to all your different finances and you basically just go through it. you categorize everything, and you can start getting a really, really strong view over your money.

Katie Welsh [2:19]
So I have a question for you, because we’ve talked about budgeting a lot on the podcast, and we have talked about a lot of other tools that we have used them in the past. Not gonna throw names out there. But how is Tiller different from those other budgeting tools?

Denis O’Brien [2:37]
Yeah, Kate. So, you know, the thing is like, when it comes to budgeting, you need to realize that there’s two types of tools. There’s a tool where you are the product, or there’s a tool where you’re paying for it, okay, right, and a lot of other tools out there. Um I’m not going to drop any names either. But they’re free, you know, and if you’re not paying for something like Facebook as an example, you don’t pay for Facebook, and as a result, you’re the product that’s why on Facebook, their ads, because they have to make money off you somehow. And the same with these other tools that are supposedly free. They’re free, because they’re constantly in your face trying to push some new credit card on you, or whatever it is. And they’re trying to make money off you in that sense and look, to be fair, they’re free, like, if you can look past that and say, I’m still going to use this tool, because you know, it’s not going to cost me anything great. But I also think that there is something to be said about paying for a budgeting tool. I think there’s a number of reasons. Number one, when you’re paying for something, you feel more inclined to have to use it. So with budgeting very often people just think, Oh, well, you know, I have my budgeting app doing its thing in the background, and I don’t have to do anything. And that’s great, but there’s not really an incentive for you to be using it. Versus where you actually are paying for something, you’re more inclined to have to use it and feel like you need to get some value out of it.

Katie Welsh [4:6]
So hold on, because what you’re just telling me, doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. So We are paying to use Tiller.

Denis O’Brien [4:15]

Katie Welsh [4:16]
It’s a little like ironic. How much are we paying here?

Denis O’Brien [4:20]

Katie Welsh [4:20]
is it expensive?

Denis O’Brien [4:21]
It’s five bucks a month.

Katie Welsh [4:34]
Okay, so not, its like a coffee.

Denis O’Brien [4:25]
Yeah, it’s like a coffee or, you know, if you really think about it, how much do you pay for to stream TV services? You pay way more than five bucks a month normally.

Katie Welsh [4:34]

Denis O’Brien [4:34]
I know, Disney plus just came out. And they’re like, what, seven, eight bucks a month. So yeah, I mean, I could just go like, yeah, for the price of a cup of coffee. You can have a tool that pulls everything into Google Sheets. And if you are good at spreadsheets, this is a great tool. And Kate, the thing is, what I really like about it is you can sort of customize exactly the kind of information you get out of it. So you can decide, okay, I’m going to make certain different categories. And based on the categories that you set up, you can pull different information and I was really impressed. So we use Robinhood for our Investing in our stocks. If you want to check it out

Katie Welsh [5:17]
It’s amazing. A little side note,

Denis O’Brien [5:19]
You’ll get a free stock if you use that link. But yeah, so we use them. And they literally, you can jump on to Tiller, you can search for Robinhood, you can log into your account, and it automatically pulls your information, which is super cool. So say for example, you want to track every single stock you’ve bought or sold, you can easily do that using spreadsheets, which is a lot easier to do than having to manually sort of log into your account. Keep a record of everything, it just automatically works. And what I like is that there’s this new add on that they have called auto cat, which helps you categorize things. So you can sort of look through it and say, Oh, well, today I just pulled in seven new transactions. You go through to the auto cat screen, and you literally just click Run, and when you click Run, it’ll run through based on the whole bunch of different rules that you put in place. So as an example, if I, if I’ve got the word Netflix in my description, it tags it to streaming services automatically. So if I then go back to my transactions tab, it’ll go through those different things. And it’s a pain the first time you set it up, because there aren’t really that many rules. But once you sort of added in a whole bunch of rules, like I just had a look now, I had seven new transactions, I hit the button, and the tagged six of them. So there’s this new category, which I haven’t tagged before. And I will then go into that account and be like, Okay, well, this description on the credit card, when that happens, tag it like this. And you can let you run through all your different transactions and tag as much as you can. And based on how you’ve tagged them, you can get really granular in your budgeting. And I think that Kate it, you know, the thing is, knowledge is power. And the more you can dive into something like this, and the more you can kind of learn about where your money’s going the better it is for you.

Katie Welsh [7:13]
I do have a couple of questions because your spreadsheety, and I am not.

Denis O’Brien [7:18]

Katie Welsh [7:19]
And I agree that this is a great tool. And it’s really awesome to, you know, know exactly where every dollar is going, especially if you’re doing things like trying to get out of debt or do a little bit of a makeup from past savings towards your retirement. So you definitely need to be tracking all that. But I’m not gonna lie to you. For me looking at this spreadsheet is super overwhelming. Like it’s just like a million little squares with tiny little font in it,

Denis O’Brien [7:49]

Katie Welsh [7:50]
Is there any kind of like tip or trick or something to make it a little less overwhelming?

Denis O’Brien [7:56]
Yeah. So Kate, the way that you set it up initially is you log into the web app as such, which is just sort of like a backend to show you you know, like how to add your accounts and everything else and that’s on the Tiller HQ website. And once you’re logged in. You basically go through, and you search for all your accounts, you’ll be like, Oh, I have an account with BofA. Let me look for that bank and then you search for it. And then when you find that you can then log in with your account that then automatically use this, like crazy security. It’s got like SSL and all sorts of great encryption and stuff. So your account data is totally safe. But once you login, you can sort of say, Oh, well, I’ve got these 10 different accounts, I want to pull six of them into this application. So you can literally decide what accounts you want to pull into your spreadsheets. Then when you’re done. Now, I know at this point, you’re like, this is great, but I still have to use a spreadsheet.

Katie Welsh [8:52]
Well, I was just thinking like, could I, you know, bring in a couple accounts at a time and kind of get used to it. And yeah, break down that learning curve and then I feel a little bit more comfortable right, then I can Okay, you don’t have to jump in. Like completely headfirst you can kinda like Feel it around with your toes for

Denis O’Brien [9:13]
Yeah, exactly. So maybe you have one credit card and you know, you want to sort of see that one credit card and how you’re spending money on that card, you could just link one card. And based on that, you can sort of start pulling in your information and start categorizing stuff. But real quick before we just take a quick break over here, what you can do Kate is you can pull like when you when you start the app, you can sort of download the templates. So they’ve built these templates already for you. And you can click on that, and it downloads a local copy into your own Google Drive. And then you literally just click like, authenticate, and you login with your account, and it will pull information for you based on their reporting.

Katie Welsh [9:57]
I like that.

Denis O’Brien [9:59]
Yes. So right before we come right back, let’s just take a quick little second and say a very big thanks to our sponsor. Alright Kate, so hit me up with some questions. What do you sort of thinking about this tool

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Katie Welsh [11:34]
I like it. So I’m going to start with that, can you pull it up onto the screen? So we’re looking at our transaction, transaction detail, like live, it has stuff that we bought yesterday. So once I get over the anxiety of so many lines and how often we eat, yikes. So what is something that people should know? I don’t even know where to start with my questions it so give me something.

Denis O’Brien [12:8]
Yeah. So once you’re logged into the accounts that the most important tab you’re going to spend a lot of time on is your transactions tab. And that’ll be a list of all transaction detail from your account. Now, the most important thing here is learning how to categorize all your transactions. So initially, when you log in, they won’t be any categories. So just be a list of all your transactions. So what you want to do is you Want to start adding different categories and start deciding how to categorize stuff? So, as an example, I can click on this line item here. Hit the drop down and they’re all my different categories that I should set up here. Yeah. So but but effectively, this is a whole bunch of different categories. I’ve set up based on stuff that we do. So there’s also a categories tab. And if you’re on the categories tab, you can start adding in different categories. Okay, now what you can do here as well as you can group the different categories too and you can label them as whether they should be hidden from reports or not.

Katie Welsh [13:6]
Wait hold on, what does that mean? Like hiding money?

Denis O’Brien [13:10]
No, no, not hiding money. So say for example, I have money that I spend for my job, and I get reimbursed, okay, I can mark to hide that as like an expense, okay, because if I’m spending, let’s say $500 for a hotel for my job, that’s not really my personal budget, right, I’m going to get paid back for that money. Something else you can do in the categories tab is you can sort of set monthly budgets for each different category. So as an example, I have over here that electricity, we budget about $150 a month for, okay. And, you know, like you’re sort of go through this whole list and create whatever categories you want. Once you tagged all your transactions, like I said, they’ve got this auto cat feature, which allows you to set certain rules. So as an example, I’m looking at this one here for giant food. If the description contains giant food, it tags to groceries

Katie Welsh [14:2]
For a little disclaimer, that is a grocery store, not super large food.

Denis O’Brien [14:7]

Katie Welsh [14:8]
For people who don’t live in the north.

Denis O’Brien [14:11]
Yeah, and Amazon it tags to Amazon purchases, so we track all of our Amazon purchase separately as well. Okay. So what you can sort of do is start creating these rules for your different categories. And then it’ll and you’ll be able to automatically apply these categories for your different transactions. Now, where this becomes useful when you start looking at your monthly budget. You can start looking at a whole bunch of different categories for whatever month or year however long you want to do. And you can see, okay, well, let’s see how we’re doing in gas for the month. Okay, we budgeted $30, we’ve spent $24 and 32 cents this month on gas.

Katie Welsh [14:50]
So we have $5 and 68 cents leftover.

Denis O’Brien [14:55]
Correct, and that isn’t gas for our car, that’s gas as a house expense. So, you know, like, you can sort of track as many as many categories as what you want and really get super granular. So initially, when I downloaded the spreadsheet, it just had two utilities and I was like, No, I just want to see utilities. I want to see the exact utilities that we have. So I added in different categories and I started tagging stuff. So you can really get super granular and you can see where your over or under and effectively

Katie Welsh [15:26]
And now how can you tell if you’re over under here?

Denis O’Brien [15:29]
Okay, so in this available column is how much money you have left. So this is for October. So we’re recording this now in end of November. So they obviously October has come and gone. So we’re looking at our budgeted versus actual income and expenses. And we can see over here,

Katie Welsh [15:46]
and that available number is what was left over.

Denis O’Brien [15:49]
Correct. How much is left over. Okay, so for our expenses as an example, we still haven’t available $242 on our expenses, which means that our actual spending was less than our budgeted spending for this month, like I mean, right, which, which means we’re below means here and we managed to live within all the categories. The only problem with something like this is you’re looking at a cash perspective, and maybe one off expenses are a little bit trickier to factor in, but you could still put that in your budget and every month, you know, that you need to have certain money left over. So that’s really cool. And also if your account isn’t here, for whatever reason, you can manually tag and manually bring in an account. And you know, like, just have it as a sort of offline item, which is pretty cool. So as an example, in our Robinhood, we use some of their margin facility, which means they lend us money for that, that we can use that money to invest. And previously, when we pulled the report here, it showed everything, including our margin. And I was like, No, I don’t want to include our margin and our net worth, because that’s not our money. So I added in this negative balance for the margin, and you can see it separately on our Report tab, and we know exactly how much money we actually have.

Katie Welsh [17:4]
Now, I’m going to slow down and ask a question, comparing to our old budgeting tool, and you didn’t like the old one as much because a lot of times it would miss categorize what we would be spending our money in and then we would have to do a lot of shuffling around and you really had to look at it more closely. Does Tiller kind of eliminate that in a little extra hassle?

Denis O’Brien [17:30]
Yeah. So Tiller by it’s self just links to Google Sheets, okay, so it’s effectively aggregating data for you. It’s up to how you categorize stuff to sort of pick up those rules. But what I like Kate is the categorization is super specific, I can say when money is received into this account, that’s between certain dollar value and has a certain description, then do this or categorize it like however, okay, and in doing so, is like tricky to do. No, it’s super easy. So it is literally one tab here. And this is actually a plugin for for Tiller. And it’s, it’s also free. It’s called auto cat. And you’re able to sort of say exactly what rules there are here. So you can say when, when the transaction description is online payment, and the account is American Express mark that is a credit card payment and credit card payment is executed for my report. Okay, so you can get super duper granular and I’m looking over here and I already got over 100 different categorizations in all of our accounts. But it’s super like the thing is, the more time you spend categorizing stuff, the easier it will be to manage your money because it automatically tags it on a monthly basis.

Katie Welsh [18:42]
Well and I like how it shows you how you’re doing, and according to your budget, and how much you have left, and it shows us these nice graphs and everything because I’m very visual, looking at a spreadsheet. It’s hard for me, but I really enjoy the monthly budget view. Yeah, that is not as overwhelming.

Denis O’Brien [19:2]
Yeah. And it also tells you like your cash flow. And there’s also an annual budget as well, if you also want to see one holistic level and see where you’re spending money, obviously, like historical data is a little bit trickier. So I think they pull 90 days or so worth of transactions, okay, which is okay to start. But if you are moving from another budgeting tool, you can obviously just import that and really see where you’re at.

Katie Welsh [19:28]
Very cool.

Denis O’Brien [19:29]
Yeah. So

Katie Welsh [19:30]
So what is our goal with this is this to help us really track where we’re spending our money even better to help us grow our net worth. Because you kind of came home you’re like, I found this new great budgeting tool. And I synced everything and, and we actually really haven’t talked about it. Yeah. So what what are you thinking with this?

Denis O’Brien [19:50]
Kate I think this is going to give us better control over our money. And you know, like, talking about budgeting as well, I think it’ll help us reviewing our money and our budgets on a monthly basis. And we’ll be able to really know where our money is going in a better way, and work towards long term goals. And because it’s in spreadsheets, and I like really, I’m a spreadsheet nerd. I’m able to like forcast stuff and do all sorts of fancy things, which I think will be able to utilize to plan our money a lot better.

Katie Welsh [20:11]
I will say the other day when you were, you know, kind of playing around with Tiller before we recorded the podcast. You looked so happy you’re you’re like oh I can really analyze everything and You know, I can do this and this and this. And, and I think that’s awesome. Yeah. Because people do need to be into the habit of tracking where their money is going instead of like, I don’t know.

Denis O’Brien [20:46]
Yeah, exactly Kate and you know, the more of a habit you get into and the easier it is for you to track something, the more likely you are to do it. And I think that, you know, being able to see your money in a holistic view in the way that you want to see it and what works for you is what’s important. And look Tiller may work for me because I like spreadsheets, someone else may prefer a web app that’s a little bit simpler, right? Someone else may, you know, like, they want to be a bit more old school and use like a notepad and try and figure stuff out and plan that way. At the end of the day, you should be using whatever works for you. And I think that will do quite well for this.

Katie Welsh [21:21]
Yeah, I agree. Because budgeting is a very, it has to be something that you can keep up with and something that you are going to do if you get overwhelmed, then you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not going to be using it and you’re not going to be tracking it. So I think I appreciate the fact that you touch on the fact that everybody budgets a little bit differently. There is no right or wrong way.

Denis O’Brien [21:46]
Right cool. Well, if you guys would like to check out Tiller head out to their website, it’s and let us know on Instagram what your thoughts are, it’s @chainofwealth on Instagram. Alright money clan, we’ll catch you next time on another episode of Chain of Wealth.

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