Category: Tips & Tricks

Categorization Improvements: Categorically in a Category of Their Own

We and our connection partners made an update to the categorisation system, which should provide more accurate auto-assigned categories and tags on US and Canadian connections. The improved system is already live, so any incoming transactions are already using it. The default systematization is now more appropriate for personal finance applications like ours, even before being adapted to the default set of categories we use in Toshl. The earlier system used a broader and slightly dated venue classification, more often used by credit card companies.

This of course applies to new transactions, where the applied category and tags are based primarily on the transaction description that’s provided by the bank. On top of that, Toshl automatically learns from your corrections, so entries with similar descriptions will use your preferred categorisation.

In some cases it’s also able to determine the geographic coordinates based on the bank data and put the transaction on your map automatically, although this is still quite rare with most transactions.

If you’re very strict when it comes to your own accounting and would prefer to manually assign every category and tag, you can do that too. Just open the bank connections screen and tap Edit on an individual connection. You can set the categorization option to OFF there, so all new entries come in as “unsorted”. The same can be applied to transfer matching. Keeping the categorization ON however, can also help with transfer matching, as detecting an expense fits in the “Transfer” category is one of the factor that helps with detecting them. The system is then more inclined to look for the income part of the transfer and match it into a transfer.

Smaller improvements were also made in the way pending transaction categorisation is handled on all automatic bank connections, providing for more flexibility when the bank changes the transaction description considerably between authorising and fully settling the transactions.

Even when there are no new systemic changes such as the ones mentioned here, the categorization is constantly improving due to machine learning systems which learn from anonymized categorization data.

I suppose this goon could get re-tagged as “Russian security services” from here on out. 🙄😐

Posted in Announcements, Bank connections, Personal finance

Save Text From Receipts to Expenses Using Your Phone’s Camera (OCR)

You’re saving an expense. You got the amount and category noted in two taps, just tap Save and you’re done. But the receipt is right in front of you and there’s so much more information there; exact items purchased, company, time, location, salesperson etc. You know that you can take and save a photo of the receipt, but then the content wouldn’t be searchable…

There’s a better way. With iOS 15, you can tap into a text field use the camera to instantly scan text and insert it into the field, right from the app. Best you see how this works for yourself in the videos below.

This way, you can add lots of extra info to your expenses, incomes and transfers in a second or two. The text remains searchable and if you want the full photo, you could also save it in the photos tab.

While this excitement comes hot on the heels of the iOS 15 release, Android users, fret not. A similar feature has been available for a while on Android devices, albeit through the Google Lens / Camera app.

To use it, tap the Google Lens button on the top right corner of the camera app. Select the text you need in the camera app and copy it. You can then paste this text when adding the expense in Toshl.

Posted in Announcements, Goodies, iOS Tutorials, Tips & Tricks

Budget History. Up Close and Personal. Including All the Naughty Bits.

It’s one thing to say; “My budget and I, we go waaay back”, but how much do you really know about your budget’s past? I’m not talking about that one time they experimented with tags and financial account filtering back in college. I mean the real nitty gritty stuff, the budget’s historical performance.

We’re all a bit optimistic when we first set up the budgets. Yet the real trial of your budgeting resolve, comes when you see the results of past budget periods and decide what you’ll do about them. Sometimes your spending or the budgets just need a little re-adjustment, sometimes a whole new strategy is needed.

We’re introducing a much improved budget history graph to help you with that.

There’s been a budget history graph in Toshl for a while. You could just open any budget’s details and scroll all the way down. The budget history is still there, but the new graph tells you a lot more.

Before, you’d see how much you spent in total in any given month.

Now, you’ll see:

  • The budget amount for the month.
  • Total spending.
  • How much you went under or over your budget amount, clearly marked with red where you went over or the light grey area, showing how much space you have until the budget amount would be reached.

You’ll notice that monthly budgets feature a bit more info still:

  • Yearly sum of monthly budgets. In the case above, it’s a monthly category budget for food. The budget for the individual month in this case is 350 €. The budget history graph will now automatically project this for the full calendar year, showing the 4200 € yearly sum (350 € x 12) and also sum up your past monthly budget to see how much you’ve spent so far.

The budget details are already featured above the history. So the graph doesn’t show exact numbers by default, but you can easily dig into more detail. As with other graphs in Toshl, click and hold on the graph column to show the details for each column.

As with this yearly budget history, you can see exactly how much was spent in a particular period and how that compares with your budgeting goals.

Toshl adapts the graph scale based on the results, so you can see the differences in your budget’s performance between periods. Making those differences clearly visible, also means sometimes cutting off some outliers – columns with spending so far out of proportion with the rest of the periods, that they go over the graph’s scale. In those cases, you’ll see that as a dark red column being cut-off, to signify it goes over the graph’s scale.

See that dark red column above, going out? In the immortal words of Flight of the Conchords channelling Bowie; How far out are you man? I’m pretty far out man! Worry not, click on it and you’ll know exactly how far out that budget overspending really is. Though, I hope your bank account can handle what the graph’s scale can’t.

We’ve been gradually releasing this feature across the Toshl apps on the web, Android and iOS, so you might have already seen this in action. If not, make sure you’re updated to the latest app version, tap a budget and take a trip down the memory lane of your finances.

Okay, perhaps don’t take the memory lane all the way back to hunting-gathering times. You might want to focus on budget history after currencies were invented.

Posted in Announcements, Budgeting, Tips & Tricks

Email Reports, File Exports and The Unbearable Lightness of Being Informed

Keeping you better informed about your finances is what we do at Toshl. Today, we’re unveiling email reports and improved file exports, to keep you informed even more thoroughly, yet effortlessly.

Email reports

They come in regular weekly, monthly and yearly instalments. They’ll help you see the state of your finances right now, discover how you got there and what’s coming up in the near future.

email reports in monthly, yearly and monthly instalments
Quick preview of the email reports. Click on the image to show a full size report with sample data.

What’s in the report?

  • Left to spend amount comparisons of your average spending in this period to past ones.
  • Monthly overview graph.
  • Account balances of financial account on the last day the report includes. As this might be sensitive information in some cases, this option is deactivated by default and can be added at will.
  • Sums of expenses, incomes as well as their categories, tags and daily averages.
  • 3 largest expenses and 3 largest incomes in the past period.
  • Budget summaries for budgets that match the time span of the reported period.
  • Coming up, the list of largest expenses and incomes coming up in the next period after the email report.
  • Net worth in the past year (yearly report only)
  • Monthly balances in the past year (yearly report only)
  • Monthly budgets in the past year (yearly report only)
  • Exported files for the same period can be automatically added to email reports as well, including files with custom filters.


Sometimes you’d also need to inform others about the state of your financial affairs, or at least the part that affects them. For example, notify your roommates about the sums of shared expense tags last month. Perhaps you need to send a report including your business expense receipts from last month to the office. Last but not least, sometimes you just need a summary of a financial period and some extra records for backup. In any case, the new file export and email report improvements in Toshl have you covered.

While we’ve offered file exports in Toshl from the start, this update takes them to the next level.


  • Completely redesigned and redone.
  • Printer friendly, with most of the document in black and white, using less surfaces to save up on ink.
  • Transaction lists are much easier to read now, include descriptions, repeat, location, splitting and paid / unpaid information
  • Transfers between financial accounts and balance reconciliations are now included by default.
  • Foreign currency amount, main currency amount and exchange rate are included if the transaction is in a foreign currency.
  • Photos and PDF attachments can now be added to the exported PDF. Images of expense receipts can be included as 1 per page or 4 per page, depending on how large you need them to report. Receipt images also linked from the transaction list itself, so the receipt copy can be easily referenced.
  • Monthly overview graph with the current state of finances and average spending.
  • Account balances on the last day of the exported time span.
  • Expense, income graphs are now included. This includes the donut graph for categories as well as the tag bubbles to get a better sense of proportions. 
  • Expense, income sums listed per category, per tag and per financial account. Listed from the largest to the smallest sum in the period for easier comparisons. 
  • Budget summaries for budgets that match the time span of the exported period.

CSV, XLS (Excel), OFX

  • Transfers and account balance reconciliations are now included by default.
  • Photos and attachments can now be added to these exports. They come in the form of the transaction file and images sorted into folders, packed together in a ZIP file.
  • New support for the OFX file format. Quick to export and import (no column matching required), but unfortunately cannot include category and tag data.

General notes

  • The exported files are no longer sent via email in the mobile apps. They’re now available directly, with the file downloaded in the app. Further actions are available using the system “open with” and share dialogues on iOS and Android. 
  • The CSV, XLS and OFX files can also be imported back into Toshl.
  • While most exporting should complete quickly, picking a long time span with lots of data – especially images, can take a bit longer. If that happens to take more than a few minutes, fear not, all is still well. You can freely close the app and when the exporting finishes on our servers, we’ll send you a notification informing you that the exported file is now available. 
  • If you’re having issues with the CSV not displaying unicode characters in Excel – like in Arab, Hebrew or pretty much any non-Latin script, make sure to import it to Excel as a CSV file. If you just open the CSV, Excel doesn’t detect text encoding well. If you import the file as CSV, set encoding to UTF-8, it will import correctly.

Filtering data for export

What makes these features really powerful, is the option to filter the exports however you want. For starters, you can select the types of data you want included in the file, as seen on the left screen.

Tap the global filtering button on the top right of the screen. There, you can filter by:

Tap the funnel icon just below the tabs and the filtering screen on the right opens up, to filter by:

  • categories
  • tags
  • locations

You can use a combination of filters to get the report you desire.

A common use for this is making a report of shared expenses. Marking the expenses that you share with someone with an additional tag. Then make a PDF report filtered by that tag to figure out how much you owe each other. The report can also include individual transactions, so everyone can see how you got to that sum.

You can also make business expense reports this way. Mark business expenses with an extra tag, as well as add the expense receipt images if you need additional information. Export to PDF and you can attach the expense receipts right in there. Moreover, you can also send a report like this to yourself every month, attached to the email report.

All data exports

  • Export all images and file attachments. Can also be filtered by time span or account.
  • Export all data you have on Toshl in CSV form, including data on past payments, devices used etc. Additional metadata is available via the Toshl Developer API.

How do I get started?

The updated features are already available in the web app on and in the latest Toshl Finance apps on Android and iOS. Version 3.5 and upwards.

Some features require Toshl Pro or Toshl Medici membership plans.

  • CSV exports are free. PDF, XLS (Excel) and OFX files require either Toshl Pro or Medici.
  • Images of expense receipts require either Toshl Pro or Medici.
  • Email reports are free for all users, but become a lot more useful when paired with an automatically updating bank connection included in Toshl Medici.

Free 30-day trials are available for all new users.

When Toshl monsters see the reports, they make cuts. Juicy ones.

Posted in Android Tutorials, Announcements, iOS Tutorials, Tutorials, Web App Tutorials

Tips from a Money Coach: a Talk over Coffee with Debbie Katzav

In times when the lockdown is slowly being lifted, life is more confusing than usual. From a financial perspective, the global pandemic brought us new challenges. The good news is that we now have time to reflect on what is happening to our personal finances.

Experts note that when the situation gets uncertain, people should not rush to make big decisions or make hasty changes in their financial pictures. Seeking professional financial advice might be a useful step to help. 

Having that in mind, we have decided to talk with the financial coach Debbie Katzav and share her tips on how to manage personal finances in a time of global crisis. 

We’ve met with Debbie by video call over morning coffee. She inspired us immediately with her vivid energy and positive attitude. Here are the moments from our talk.

Debbie, could you please introduce yourself? What is your job?

My name is Debbie Katzav. I live in the center of Israel, just north of Tel Aviv. Officially, my title is Personal Finances Advisor. It is also known as a Money Coach in certain countries. 

Basically, what I do is I guide people – it can be singles, couples, or small business owners – towards understanding, managing, and organizing various aspects of their finances. It can be their budget, expenses, their incomes, or their savings. I explain how to reduce expenses and create savings, to make sure they put some money away for pension time and so that they know what’s going on with their insurances. I’m not an insurance agent or broker. However, I have enough knowledge to point my clients in the right direction and ask the right questions of their brokers and advisors. As those areas are full of information and terminology, whenever people get a report or request from their agent, they get scared and don’t know what to do with it. But I know how to deal with it.

One of the reasons why I am in this field is that I’ve gone through different things in my life, all of which had financial implications. I migrated between countries three times. I was married, got divorced, got married again. I lost my dad at a pretty young age… So I’ve had a lot of different experiences and more… I made money, lost money, bought and sold properties, and so on. All these events had implications also on my finances, so eventually, I wanted to help other people to avoid financial problems and mistakes. 

Besides this, I love organizing. I love knowing where I can find information quickly and be able to use it. And I enjoy everything digital: apps, programs, technology… For instance, I’ve been using Excel and PowerPoint since the 1990-s. Now I learn how to use any new app very easily and quickly. 

To go back, I became self-employed 9 years ago, I’m 52, by the way. Till then I was always an employee in large organizations for over 20 years. I worked very hard building my business and raising two small boys at that time. And I was really lucky to get great marketing opportunities at the beginning which took me further. I charged forward with those opportunities, as I knew that I’d need to step outside my own boundaries in order to succeed as a small business owner. Taking those risks paid off and I managed to build my business very well. For example, I had a regular column on one of Israel’s biggest websites and that led to TV appearances, radio broadcasts, and other media contacts. Right now I prefer to invest in my own media: website, blog, and podcast (in Hebrew at the moment).

Wow! That’s amazing.

Yes, that’s a lot of life behind me! (Laughing)

You’ve mentioned that you love to use the apps. How did you get to know Toshl?

I use the Toshl app for more than 4 years. I don’t really remember exactly but either I’ve heard about it through a client or my sister who lives in New York. Anyway, I’ve been a paid Toshl Pro customer for 4 years and it is really worth the money… I did explore other apps at that time and I found that Toshl was really intuitive, nicely designed, and user-friendly.

As a financial coach, could you please share: what should we focus on when managing our financial life?

Obviously, the first thing is control of the day-to-day expenses. I call them variable expenses – expenses that occur daily and we actually have to put a hand in our pocket to take a credit card or cash, or use online banking to make a transfer – all of these expenses need to be tracked because it is very easy to lose control over them. 

Aside from those, we have fixed expenses. Although they are repeating every month, we need to control them and think if there is a way we can reduce them. Some people say: “Oh this is fixed. I can’t do anything about it”. But sometimes you can. For instance, in Israel, we have a pretty cheap cellular service for less than 10 dollars per month. And I still see some people using the more expensive program even though there is no reason for them to have it. 

Then, we need to make sure that we have savings, liquid savings. Especially now, in the times of the global pandemic, a lot of people suddenly didn’t have an income… And if you have some money to put back in your current account that you’ve saved up for a rainy day, you are in a much better position than people who haven’t done that. So you need to have money that is pretty liquid and you need to have savings for retirement or when you stop working. It can be in many formats: rent from the property, saving accounts, investments. 

I think it is also important to be a smart consumer. It means not being roped in by clever advertising or a friend or celebrity who posts an Instagram photo of an item that was just bought but rather  – to investigate, do price comparisons in advance. I’m not saying: “Don’t buy”. I love buying myself and I think it’s fun. Just let’s be clever consumers.

It is better to buy one good-quality expensive item than many cheap ones. Personally, I don’t like online shopping for cheap clothes… That’s just like… Where I’m going to put it?! (Laughing) It might be the wrong size or colour, or maybe the quality of the material will be very low… I’d rather buy good things, more expensive and not so many. That’s being the smart consumer.

To sum up, just control your expenses, make the savings, and be a smart consumer.

Do you suggest looking at it individually?

Oh, absolutely. For instance, a situation in my family is very different from the situation of a family with small children. Yes, I can give very general advice but at the end of the day, each person or family and each household is in its own situation. All in all, it is very individual. 

You know, I cannot tell a family who has a coeliac kid to spend much less on food. They will spend more because that gluten-free food is very expensive. So everything needs to be adjusted. Only when I do individual work with a family, I can point out the areas that are not in line with what it should be.

Now we live in times of the global pandemic. Some of us could experience uncertainty about our financial future. Are there any specific tips on how to act in these circumstances?

I think you need to put on your creative hat and realize that you have to move out of your comfort zone. For example, what I’m doing now (as I finally had the time during the 2 months of lockdown) is putting together an online workshop. Yes, it is a lot of work but I’m moving out of my comfort zone to create new services which will bring me new clients and new income. That is what we need at the moment of uncertainty. 

On the other hand, we need to exercise restraint. As the lockdown is lifting slowly, I see that people are so craving to go to the mall and buy… And maybe they don’t have money… They need to think first: “OK, the mall is open but it doesn’t imply that I HAVE to go and spend!”. You know, don’t go to the mall, go for a walk around the block! 

So we need to become restrained and keep being optimistic and learn some new skills. I think there are lots of opportunities to learn skills that you can sell to create an income. These things could be a little bit more difficult, though it’s worth trying.

What else? We should put off some purchases… For example, before the pandemic, you planned to renovate your house during the summer. But now, if your income has changed, you need to put it off, to leave some money in your bank account. 

This is also a time to review the budget of your monthly expenses. You need to do it every month but in times of uncertainty, you need to adjust it even more. And in this sense, Toshl is a very handy tool.

Recently, the global market has shifted to the Internet. Many people purchase goods and services online. Are there any hints on how not to overspend?

It’s a big problem. I see it with a lot of my clients. Apart from purchases that require delivery services, there are subscriptions for online products. When my clients go through their bank statements having transactions from App Store or Play Store, sometimes they can hardly answer what that online purchase was for. When you’re buying online, it is very easy to think: “Oh, it’s just three dollars!” I think our minds are not capable of aggregating everything that we purchase over a period of a month and we cannot work it out unless we see it on a screen (in Toshl!)

Another thing… Most of my clients use Toshl manually. One of the things I teach them is that they have to enter their purchases on the same day. Because the next day you wake up, your mind is like a blank page and you don’t remember anything. I’m also quite a big online purchaser of services for my business Yesterday I paid for Zoom and I put it in Toshl right away. And that’s how I can control myself because it is very easy to get lost.

Could you describe: who is your typical customer?

I have three types of customers. The first ones are couples or individuals that want to learn how to manage their finances. I teach them how to analyze their expenses and how to create, maintain, follow, and track a new budget. These people come to me to learn and I guide them in that. 

The next type is people who ask me to manage things for them as a personal financial assistant. Typically, these are older people. Normally, they are well off, and if they want someone to deal with it for them, they can afford it. I’m the one to clean up the messes and consult them. 

And the last ones are small business owners. If you are a small business owner, you have to sell your service or product but at the same time, you need to manage your business on your own. A lot of small business owners don’t know how to manage the financial aspects of their business. Most deal only with the tax aspects and amounts that need to be paid to the authorities. I’m the one who really goes into the numbers and says: “Oh, you spent too much on equipment!”. What I do with small business owners, I look at the details and advise them every month on what they need to be more careful with. I look at the numbers from a different point of view than the accountant does.

And now I might have one more type! These are the people who are going to learn and do everything on their own using the Toshl app. 

Yes, we’ve heard about the workshops you organize to share your knowledge with others. Could you tell us more about these events?

The workshops are my new service. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years but it was quite challenging to get people to come at the same time and to the same place. Then the pandemic came… And now everybody meets and learns online. So I said, “OK, now it is time”. What I want to share is completely teachable in the online environment. 

Basically, I run the workshop to teach people how to use Toshl to manage their personal finances. I’ve discovered over the years how to use the app correctly and stick with it over time. It needs to be set in a certain way and I’ll share these tips at the workshop. The session lasts for 1.5 hours and it is in Hebrew. There in fact going to be 2 workshops – for beginners and an advanced session. I also have an idea to do it in English for clients from all over the world. And hopefully, I’ll also sell the workshop as an online course.

Which methods and approaches do you use in your work?

First of all, my approach is that order and efficiency are the basis for effectiveness. If you have all your ducks in a row and everything organized in a clever way, then you are probably going to be efficient and effective in whatever it is: your business or saving. Another approach is that at the beginning you’re always sweating a little bit more until you get everything organized, and then it goes pretty quickly and smoothly. 

In terms of actual methods or tools, I use a lot of different ones to run the business. With my clients, I use Excel and Toshl: Toshl – for tracking the day-to-day expenses and controlling them and Excel – for looking at the big picture and doing more complicated analysis, etc. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

During the last two months, many people were writing statements such as: “Now I know that it is important to save, spend money on the right things and not to overspend”. I think in a few months most of us will go back to our old habits because we are creatures of comfort and we like buying items and experiences. But I do hope that more and more people will understand that it is OK and not so boring to control personal finances… It can be done quite easily and in a more calculated way. There are so many handy tools for that! So do not forget what we went and are still going through with Covid-19 and spend wisely. 

Useful links: Debbie’s website, Facebook page, blog, about the workshop (in Hebrew)

Posted in Family finance, Opinions, Personal finance, Tips & Tricks