Category: Budgeting

Plan ahead in 2017

It’s time to sink our teeth into 2017. Financially and otherwise. Perhaps only sink your teeth into 2017 literally if you have a very tasteful calendar or thoroughly enjoy cellulose.

There are a few very simple things you can do to plan ahead, avoid unpleasant financial surprises and can thus afford to eat things tastier than paper throughout the year.

 

1. Add all regular expenses you can predict in 2017

Fill in as many expenses as you can in advance. No worries if you don’t have the exact right amount yet. Add an expense with the approximate amount and set a reminder, so you don’t forget to edit in the exact amount later on.

Think about which expenses repeat regularly, be it every month, once a year or every few weeks. If they repeat in the same period every time, add them as repeating expenses.

Here are a few examples:

  • transport costs (car registration, regular car maintenance, public transport fees)
  • rent, house maintenance
  • loans, mortgages, car payments
  • utilities (heating, electricity, internet)
  • content subscriptions (streaming, cable, music, web services, publications)
  • education fees
  • gym, leisure activities, seal clubbing club membership fees

 

2. Add budgets for your variable spending

There’s also spending that’s harder to predict as it’s more irregular and subject to your current whim, making it a lot more difficult to plan in advance. Things like going for coffee, eating out in restaurants, impulsively buying a herd of reindeer, deciding to work on your own nuclear fusion reactor…

While the latter two might be just me, I’m sure you can find plenty of examples where your impulsive spending can take you overboard.

Those areas are perfect for setting up budgets for the variable spending you want to keep in check. It’s easy to do, just set a budget to track an individual category or tag to make sure those areas don’t get out of control.

A few examples of such budgets:

  • Monthly budgets for Food & Drinks, or perhaps just “restaurants”, “alcohol” or “coffee & tea
  • Monthly budget for Leisure or some of your past time tags in particular
  • Yearly budget for Transport, especially for leisurely petrol-heads
  • Yearly budget for tobacco can be especially helpful if you’re trying to quit smoking, the large yearly numbers might just shock you enough to stop

Find out more on How to set up the budgets (Web, Android, iOS) and How to use the budgets (Web, Android, iOS) in general.

While it’s good to have those figures under control, let yourself room for some treats once in a while. Being a “bon-vivant” might even help you save on your health bills in the long run due to lower stress. 😉

 

 

3. Make a financial buffer

You should have a healthy financial cushion or a financial buffer in other words, so you can weather any storms that might come up. Having 3 months worth of incomes saved up is a good basic start, but try to increase that amount gradually as you go along. Knowing that you can survive for at least half a year even if you loose your job will make you breathe a lot more easily. With the full realisation this is often easier said than done, this should be a goal you strive to, so unexpected financial events don’t throw you off your balance.

Making a special financial account in Toshl for this purpose is a good idea, just make sure you have this money actually saved up and can get to it rather quickly if the need arises.

 

4. Save in advance

Don’t forget to save for the big stuff in advance. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you about your big financial goals like buying a house or an apartment, buying a car etc.

Fusion reactors also don’t come cheap, but your government is likely already making you save a bit for those collectively. Good call.

Don’t forget about the smaller, but still quite considerable purchases that come up often. You’ll probably want to take a holiday in 2017. If you haven’t yet, the time to start planning for this is now.

Start a new financial account for your “Holiday savings” or “New flat”. If you already have something saved up for it, enter an initial balance. Then, add a regularly repeating transfer from your main bank account to your savings account. Setting a reminder here can help you remember to actually put that money on the side every month.

See: How to set up your finances – including financial accounts (Web, Android, iOS)

 

5. See what’s ahead with Planning

We have a new feature for you that will help you better visualise the data that you have just entered and plan ahead in general. It’s called Planning and is currently available in Beta testing on toshl.com.

Planning will show you a full year’s view of your finances, making it a lot easier to learn from your financial past and plan for the future. You can see the past or projected balances for each individual month, how your net worth (sum of all accounts) grows or falls over time, as well as see monthly changes in expenses in incomes. Don’t forget you can also filter by category or tag to see how smaller parts of your spending vary with the seasons.

 

 

You can now see the effect of all your careful expense planning and saving from the previous steps. The columns for each month’s spending should be at least somewhat filled already with your fixed expenses. Naturally, more variable expenses will fill those months as well as time passes. Now you’ll at least have a basic frame of reference to see how much you can afford in discretionary spending once your fixed expenses and saving for the important things have been accounted for.

Don’t forget to check your past spending patterns in 2016 as well, just to make sure you haven’t forgotten something in your yearly financial cycle.

 

6. Don’t forget to have fun

I write “have fun” on my to do list every day, so I don’t forget about it and just remain miserable throughout the day. I’m lying of course, as I’d like to think I’m not a complete moron and do tend to gravitate towards some amusement on my own without constant prodding. The larger point I’m trying to make here, is that these financial planning steps are not an end in themselves. Sure, we need to keep our finances in check, but the aim here is to worry less, not more. With some basic thinking ahead like this, we can keep a lot more relaxed throughout the year and enjoy life to the fullest.

Here’s to life!

Posted in Budgeting, Personal finance, Tips & Tricks, Tutorials

How to Use The Budgets (Web App)

Let’s take a look into the details of an individual budget. We’ll take a look at a monthly budget for all expenses and see what all the graphs and data mean.

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Budget type & basic stats

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Title & budget amount
The title is pretty self evident, but it’s worth mentioning that they are generated automatically, based on the type of budget you created. If you want, you can change it by clicking Edit on the right of budget details, Show more and then changing the title near the bottom of the form.
The amount shown on top is the total amount for the budget for the given time period. You can use your main currency for the budget (recommended) or a foreign one, if it’s your travel budget while you’re abroad, for example.
Time period, Accounts Tracked, Budget Type
The 3 basic settings of the budget.
Time period: shows what kind of period of time does it track and how quickly it transitions to the next period, e.g. daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or one time. You can set a budget to a custom time period: e.g. every 2 weeks, every 3 months etc.
Accounts tracked: Whether the budget is set to track the expenses noted on all financial accounts or only some.
Budget type: Whether it tracks all expenses, those in specific categories, those using specific tags or excluding expenses some categories or tags.
Budget statistics for the current period
Used & planned: the amount of money that was already spent from this budget in the displayed time period. If it mentions “planned” it also includes the expenses that you have already added in the future of this time period, but weren’t due yet. For example, bills that haven’t arrived yet this month. If you want to see just the expenses until today, click the time span setting at the top of the screen and set the “Show planned expenses in graphs” setting to OFF.
Left: The amount of money remaining in this budget, that you have not spent yet.
Left per day: The amount of money remaining, divided by the number of days remaining in the budget period.

Budget overview graph

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All the elements of this graph take a little bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you get a great feel for the real state of your budget in a single glance.
Progress bar and the blue/red lollipop
The blue-coloured background tells you how much of your budget still remains. In the beginning of the period it’s all blue, but as you add more expenses things heat up and it starts shrinking towards the right side. Kind of like a glacier. The blue lollipop shows the end of the progress bar and displays how much money is left in the budget.
If you surpass the budget amount you have set for yourself, the progress bar will start appearing from the left in red colour, with the red lollipop up front, displaying how much you surpassed your budgeted amount.
The today lollipop
In the budget graph for the current period, you’ll also see an upside-down lollipop in dark grey with “today” written on it. This lollipop shows current time compared to the whole budget period. The entire length of the graph is the entire amount of time in the budget period and the lollipop displays where you are now.
The red columns
These columns are daily sums of expenses. They show how much you spent on a given day in the budget period, telling you when you spent the most and helping you to find the main culprit of overspending. Click and hold the cursor over the graph to see the daily details. The taller and darker the column, the more was spent.
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Compare the “money left” and “today” lollipops
Comparing the lollipops quickly tells you how you’re doing with your current budget. The blue lollipop tells you how much money you have left in the budget, the grey one tells you how much time you have left.
If they’re aligned or almost aligned, you’re right on track so far. You’re on the way to spend the almost exact amount of money you budgeted in this period.
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If the today lollipop (grey) is way ahead of the money left lollipop (blue), then you’re doing great with your budget. You’ve spent less than you thought you will in this amount of time. If this happens a lot, perhaps it’s time to lower the budget amount and save more.
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If the money left lollipop (blue) is way ahead of the today lollipop (grey), then you’re not doing so well with your budget. You’re spending more than was expected. Time to reduce your spending, or if that’s not possible, make the budget amount larger next time.
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If the lollipop has already turned to red, you have already spent more than the money you had put in the budget amount. The lollipop simply tells you by how much.
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 The budget history graph
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This graph shows the previous budget periods and the total amount of money that was spent in the period. By clicking and holding over the budget history graph you can also see more details for the period, including the amount of the budget, amount spent and how much was saved or lacking in the period.
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Click on the period title below the graph and you will be taken to the complete budget details for that period. If your budget is a monthly one, you can also move there using the time span arrows on the top of the page.

The budget list

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 All the budgets that you have in the current time period are present on the list of budgets on the right of the screen. The one that is currently displayed in the budget details graphs is marked with dark grey.
There is also a quick preview of the progress bar, that includes the same data as the graph in the budget details. That way you can quickly monitor the current state of all your budgets at once.
If you use monthly budgets, you’ll notice that budgets are displayed in two ways:
– Monthly budgets for all and monthly budgets for categories
The top budget is your general monthly budget for all expenses. The white-coloured category budgets below each represent a percentage of the total monthly budget. They are effectively sub-budgets as the categories all sum up. That’s why the little progress bars beneath each category budget are of different lengths. The categories for which you have not yet made a budget for are covered in the “Remaining budgets” section. That way you get a rough picture of how your monthly budget for all expenses is distributed among the categories.
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– All other budgets
All the budgets which are not monthly for all, or monthly for a category, are displayed as individual budgets. They cannot be displayed as sub-budgets as they don’t match up in time or can’t sum up to 100%, like budgets for tags for example.
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Included expenses
When any of the budgets is selected, an extra row titled “Included expenses” will appear in the list. Clicking there will display all the individual expenses that are included in that budget. You can display and edit them, just like any expense list.
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Filtering

Budgets displayed in the list are filtered just like any other content on Toshl.
Only budgets that have a budget period in the currently chosen time span will be displayed.
If you used the filtering option on the top right, only the budgets that fit those criteria will be displayed. For example, if you filtered to display only one financial account, only the budgets that track that account will be displayed. Same goes for categories, tags and other filtering options.

Toshl Pro budget limitations

While using the free Toshl you are limited to adding 2 budgets. With Toshl Pro you can add as many as you like. If your Toshl Pro subscription expires, the extra budgets will be deactivated. The data will not be deleted, if you extend your Toshl Pro subscription you can continue using them normally.pro_badge_beige
Toshl Pro is available as one of these plans:
$1.99 / month
$19.99 / year
$59.99 / 3 years + free T-shirt
Want to start budgeting, but don’t know where to start? Read our tutorial “How to Set Up Your Budgets and Control Your Spending” and you’ll be set up in a heartbeat. Maybe two heartbeats. It will be a few more heartbeats really. It’s just a figure of speech, get of my back, will you!? ;)
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Posted in Budgeting, Personal finance, Tips & Tricks, Tutorials, Web App Tutorials

The River Flow Graph – How Your Money Flows Each Month (Web App)

Once in a while, one needs to take a broader look of things, even personal finances. To help you see your monthly flow of finances from a higher ground, we made the “river flow” graph.

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Imagine the money that you earn and spend each month as a system of rivers. It flows in, hopefully rests a bit in a lake of your making, then most of it flows out again to replenish the fields – or yourself and your phone bill. With some good planning you can build yourself a dam and some accumulation lakes on the side, just to be safe if a dry season ever hits you.
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The number at the very top is your income, your main inbound stream. If you set up your monthly budget for all expenses, that will be the dam that you constructed. Income flows in and hits the dam. If the income amount is larger than the budget amount, the difference will flow into your savings for the dry months. It’s good to grow an “accumulation lake” or your “savings account” as your less poetic banker would call it.
If the budget is larger than the income, you’re living beyond your means and need to readjust the budget. Or even better, increase the income if possible.
Beyond your budget dam and monthly money lake, your expenses flow out. The width of the flow represents its size.
The flow in dark red are expenses that have already been made.
The orange flow are your planned expenses, the ones which are coming this month, but have not been due yet.
The green flow is your “left to spend” money. The money that you have already budgeted for, so it should hold by the end of the month, but you have yet to let it flow out of the dam.
If you have not built your dam yet (set up a monthly budget for all expenses), then the flows will simply be going straight down, but their width still representing their size.
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If your expense flow is much stronger than the income one, you know the lakes will run dry rather quickly. It’s a situation that should be quickly fixed. Hopefully you’ve accumulated enough in the past to weather through this dry season.
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Hopefully, the river flow graph will help you get a good understanding of your money flows and you’ll be able to avoid the dire situations before they occur.
While it’s great seeing these rivers from the top down to manage your money better, it’s even better in first person, leaping down those rapids as the Toshl Monsters see them…

To learn more, check out the Monthly overview and Left to spend blog posts.
Posted in Budgeting, Personal finance, Tips & Tricks, Tutorials, Web App Tutorials

Make Your Yearly Financial Overview of 2014

The 2014th ellipsis of Earth around the Sun since we decided to keep track of those laps, is slowly but inevitably coming around. Not quite so incidentally, this is also the time to take stock of what happened with your finances during the year. The more we know this year went, the better we’ll know how to start afresh in the new one.

With that in mind, here’s a few quick and easy tips how to do yearly financial overview in Toshl.
 

1. Set the time span to entire year

Seeing your finances month-to-month is just dandy most of the time, but for a year end review, it’s better to sum it all up.
 
On the web (toshl.com):
Click on the big red month link (e.g. December 2014), the click on the Custom time span tab and set the time from Jan 1st 2014 to Jan 1st 2015. Click Save and you’re done.
 
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Mobile apps
Tap the time span button, then custom time span and set the time from Jan 1st 2014 to Jan 1st 2015.
 
Can’t find the time span button?
Android: First tap the menu button, which can be either the hardware menu button or the … button on the top right, then you’ll see the time span clock button.
iOS: The clock button on the top left.
Windows Phone: The clock button in the action bar on the bottom.
 
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2. Check out the tag sums

Now that you have the whole year selected, it’s time to look around a bit, as the numbers will be quite different than before. On the web, check out the Expenses graph next to the timeline. For a more graphical display, switch to the tags section to play around with the bubble graph (Pro only).
 
What’s most important is that you get a sense of the numbers and how much to you spend on certain areas of your life during the year. While some spending on food and lodging is a quite necessary evil for us all, be on the lookout for any numbers that jump out. Can you optimise your transport costs? Quit smoking? Stop your penguin buying addiction?
 
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3. See which months are the critical ones

Another important look at your spending is to see how it moves through the months. If you have Toshl Pro, you can check out the “Expenses, Incomes, Balance” graph and see how your financial flows moved through the months.
 
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With many people, the same yearly patterns repeat every year. So keep in mind when you spend the most and be extra vigilant then. If you have yearly bills that you can predict, enter them as yearly repeating expenses. Car insurance, magazine subscriptions, major birthdays etc. are good candidates. Even if you don’t know the exact amount yet, you can enter an approximate one and adjust the expense later. It’s more important that you don’t get caught by surprise by the expense.
 
Don’t forget to put some money on the side for the 2015 vacations!
 
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4. Make yearly budgets

Especially shocked or intrigued by some of the tag sums that came up? Set up a yearly budget for the specific tag or tags. That way you can keep track of spending on your personal vices throughout the year with little effort.
 
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The green progress bar shows how much you have left in your budget, while the dotted date line shows how far we’ve come in the year. If you’ve made a good prediction and are spending in your desired pattern, those two should be on roughly the same place. If the green bar’s disappearance is way ahead of the date, you might be in trouble. Keep an eye out. Well, not literally. You know what I mean. Kids, don’t try putting your eyes out at home. Or… ever. You know what, perhaps just make an ophthalmologist budget as well.
 
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All in all, don’t forget to have fun too. It’s the merry December after all! Hopefully you still have some leeway in your yearly booze budget. ;)
 
2015 will be a year of renaissance for Toshl too, so we’re already looking forward to how much more fun the yearly overview will be in 2015.
Posted in Budgeting, Personal finance, Tips & Tricks, Tutorials, Web App Tutorials

How to Create a Budget, Perhaps Make a Golden Pagoda

Tutorial to help you start budgeting with Toshl and explore some most common uses of budgets. The surest way towards becoming a enlightened budgeting genius.

So you want to save some money or keep a closer eye on how much you’re spending. Setting up a budget is the easiest way to do it.

Tap the + button (top right) or shake the phone when in the Budgets tab.

There’s a couple of different ways to budget, depending on what you need. Let’s take a look at some common examples:

Budget for all expenses – monthly

Set up the maximum amount you wish to spend during the month. Hopefully that number is lower than your incomes. That’s important because it turns out that private citizens can run budget deficits for a much shorter time than governments can. It’s thus pretty wise to keep a bit of a surplus and save for the rainy days.

This budget will now track all your expenses within the month and warn you with some flaming red hues when things go overboard.

Budget for specific tags – weekly coffee

That caffeine habit is tough to kick, especially in the mornings when that extra energy boost is like mana from heaven. Now you can at least get a sense of proportion and try to limit your coffee spending by setting up some early warning signs. If you track coffee spending with its own tag you can set up a budget just for coffee and try to shake less when holding that cup.

Some Toshl users found strength to quit smoking by setting up a cigarettes budget. But it’s not just for vice, feel free to budget for any type of tag you wish to keep a closer eye on.

Travel budget – one time

Holidays can be a time to be a bit more relaxed with money, but it’s good to have a warning system in place when it’s getting tight. You know, just so you don’t end up on the streets of Yangon selling yourself just to earn that airplane ticket back home. True story! Not really.

Anyway, go traveling, set up a one time budget for all expenses with the start and end date of your vacations and you’ll know exactly how much you spent on the trip.

People of Yangon, Myanmar budgeted so well they were able to buy themselves a golden pagoda. ;)

 

These are just a few examples of the budget combinations you can use, there’s a lot more powerful options suited to your needs. You can combine any type of budget with a time period.

Budget types:

– all expenses

– for specific tags

– except specific tags

 

Budget time periods:

– one time

– daily

– weekly

– bi-weekly

– monthly

– yearly

 

Budgets with rollovers

One more thing to get you on your merry budgeting way. Your budget doesn’t have to reset each week or month. You can turn on the rollovers by selection the option “Move remaining to next budget”. That way if you’ve been especially good in saving on restaurants last month you can move those remaining funds to the next month and treat yourself to some proper nine-course dining with fine Slovenian wine at Skaručna. Suit yourself, but that’s what I’d do.

Posted in Budgeting, Tips & Tricks, Tutorials