Category: Personal finance

What are Your Financial Goals?

This is a guest post by Miha Slekovec, an avid user of Toshl Finance and an explorer of financial self-improvement.

 

Let’s take a step back and look at a bigger picture of the personal finance world. It can be much more than just keeping track of your monthly expenses. If done the right way, it can lead to the personal freedom many people are craving for – financial independence. Personal finance need not be just a monthly choir, or a task. It can be the first step on a ladder which leads to financial independence. The ladder has five steps and it starts with budgeting. Good budgeting leads to creating savings, which can then be invested. With a correct investment strategy you can create assets, and with enough assets you can reach your financial freedom. For details take a look at the picture below. Start at the bottom.

The beauty of the system is that you can step up and down the ladder according to your financial goals. The solid foundation is keeping your monthly finances in order. Without that you cannot search for possible savings in your spending. Monthly budgeting lets you identify the weakest points of your monthly money flow and it shows you what needs to be improved. These improvements lead to (extra) savings, which you can then use in whichever way you want. Maybe you want to save for that great vacation you wanted to go on for years? Or maybe you want to put the money on the side for that dream home you want to buy in the future? Maybe you want to invest it?

Here we are entering a new territory. In sports terms, budgeting/saving is playing defence, while investing is playing offence. There are many ways to score, but you must know what you are doing, especially in the long run. But don’t despair, there are many ways to invest and many sources to learn about investing. Just remember some basic rules: invest in only what you know, be prepared to lose your money, and don’t be greedy.

Be careful where you invest, as different countries have very different tax codes and regulations about investing. What is possible in the USA, is not necessarily possible in Germany. And the possibilities of investment in France differ from those in Japan. Make a study of what you can do in your country. A good general resource to start is JL Collins: The Simple Path to Wealth. The book offers good insight into the stock market for first time investors and helps you avoid some of the common rookie mistakes. For a few alternative resources try books by Jack Bogle or Benjamin Graham.

 

The most important question is – what do you want to achieve with your finances? Where do you want to enter and where leave the ladder?

Posted in Guest posts, Personal finance, Tips & Tricks

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 Track Loans, Repay Debts and Deal with Your Friendly Neighbourhood Loanshark (iOS)

Toshl_2.0_monster_0057_58We have almost certainly all been there at some point – borrowing money, launder loaning money, forgetting about loans, etc. Be it a small amount for drinks, because you forgot your wallet, or a bigger sum because you chose to buy something expensive that you obviously really, really, really needed.

So, how to go about tracking and dealing with the dynamics of loaning and borrowing money? Fear not, for Toshl is here for you again, not in the money loaning business though, but in the business of helping to track loans and debts – or simply Hilfespurverleihenborgengeschäft, as the Germans would put it.

 

Track major debt repayments

Let’s say I want to buy a new Ferarri for $3200, but I am just $3100 short for it. What do I do? I go to a guy* I heard you can get a loan from, that hangs out behind the parking garage in the shady part of town every other night (because he has kids). I ask him for a donation towards my cause and after a few laughs, I promise I would pay him back in ten months with $1900 interest. I get the money, and now I have to settle the $5000 debt in ten months, which makes for $500 per month. Because I use Toshl, the best loan app around, I know this will be a piece of cake and I will not get my legs broken in the process.

 

1. Add income marking the received loan

I put the $3100 in Toshl as an income, category ‘Loans’, account ‘Cash’, plus I put ‘Drago’ in the description – which is supposedly the guy’s name and also means ‘expensive’ in some languages. Just so I can be precise when I tell my grandchildren about my first Ferrari.ios_inc1

Ok, we got the money, we got the income from the loan marked, now to go about tracking the debt.

 

2. Add a new account to track the repayment of debt

I make a new account for the debt, called ‘Drago’ and set up the initial balance as ‘-$5000’ which is the total amount of the debt, including the interest.
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3. Add transfers to note the debt repayments

To note the repayments as I return the money to Drago in monthly instalments, I make a transfer of $500 from account ‘Cash’ to account ‘Drago’, date it on the day of the first payment, set it up to repeat every month for ten months and set up reminders for it. Now I will be reminded to take the $500 to him every month, and the ‘Drago’ account will get out of red numbers over the ten months.ios_adtr

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That’s it!

 

Track smaller loans to friends

Let’s take a look at another, simpler case. Let’s say I lend $4.99 to a fellow car enthusiast for a little 1:100 plastic Ferrari model.

 

1. Note the loan as an expense

I give him the money, put it in Toshl as expense, category ‘Loans’, account ‘Cash’.

If this is a one-off loan, I can put the guy’s name in description. If I lend to this guy often, I could also put his name in a new tag on the expense. That way I can easily sum up everything he owes me.ios_adex

 

2. Note the loan repayment as an income

When he pays me back after seven and a half months, I just enter it as an income with appropriate tags, etc. This way I can always track borrowing and loaning entries.

Alternatively, I could just erase the loan expense, but that wouldn’t give me any insight on the loan later on.

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Bob’s your uncle! Use whichever method works best for you or be creative and invent your own system. That’s it for now from our secret volcano base, ta ta!

*Toshl does not recommend taking loans from random guys behind the parking garage, nor can we provide phone numbers of any specific guys providing such loans. A bank would probably still be a better bet, although their moral compasses might not be in much better shape, compared to the guy behind the parking garage.
Posted in Debt, iOS Tutorials, Personal finance, Tips & Tricks, Tutorials

How to Track Loans, Repay Debts and Deal with Your Friendly Neighbourhood Loanshark (Android)

Toshl_2.0_monster_0057_58We have almost certainly all been there at some point – borrowing money, launder loaning money, forgetting about loans, etc. Be it a small amount for drinks, because you forgot your wallet, or a bigger sum because you chose to buy something expensive that you obviously really, really, really needed.

So, how to go about tracking and dealing with the dynamics of loaning and borrowing money? Fear not, for Toshl is here for you again, not in the money loaning business though, but in the business of helping to track loans and debts – or simply Hilfespurverleihenborgengeschäft, as the Germans would put it.

 

Track major debt repayments

Let’s say I want to buy a new Ferarri for $3200, but I am just $3100 short for it. What do I do? I go to a guy* I heard you can get a loan from, that hangs out behind the parking garage in the shady part of town every other night (because he has kids). I ask him for a donation towards my cause and after a few laughs, I promise I would pay him back in ten months with $1900 interest. I get the money, and now I have to settle the $5000 debt in ten months, which makes for $500 per month. Because I use Toshl, the best loan app around, I know this will be a piece of cake and I will not get my legs broken in the process.

 

1. Add income marking the received loan

I put the $3100 in Toshl as an income, category ‘Loans’, account ‘Cash’, plus I put ‘Drago’ in the description – which is supposedly the guy’s name and also means ‘expensive’ in some languages. Just so I can be precise when I tell my grandchildren about my first Ferrari.

Ok, we got the money, we got the income from the loan marked, now to go about tracking the debt.

 

2. Add a new account to track the repayment of debt

I make a new account for the debt, called ‘Drago’ and set up the initial balance as ‘-$5000’ which is the total amount of the debt, including the interest.

 

3. Add transfers to note the debt repayments

To note the repayments as I return the money to Drago in monthly instalments, I make a transfer of $500 from account ‘Cash’ to account ‘Drago’, date it on the day of the first payment, set it up to repeat every month for ten months and set up reminders for it. Now I will be reminded to take the $500 to him every month, and the ‘Drago’ account will get out of red numbers over the ten months.

That’s it!

 

 

Track smaller loans to friends

Let’s take a look at another, simpler case. Let’s say I lend $4.99 to a fellow car enthusiast for a little 1:100 plastic Ferrari model.

 

1. Note the loan as an expense

I give him the money, put it in Toshl as expense, category ‘Loans’, account ‘Cash’.

If this is a one-off loan, I can put the guy’s name in description. If I lend to this guy often, I could also put his name in a new tag on the expense. That way I can easily sum up everything he owes me.

 

2. Note the loan repayment as an income

When he pays me back after seven and a half months, I just enter it as an income with appropriate tags, etc. This way I can always track borrowing and loaning entries.

Alternatively, I could just erase the loan expense, but that wouldn’t give me any insight on the loan later on.

Bob’s your uncle! Use whichever method works best for you or be creative and invent your own system. That’s it for now from our secret volcano base, ta ta!

*Toshl does not recommend taking loans from random guys behind the parking garage, nor can we provide phone numbers of any specific guys providing such loans. A bank would probably still be a better bet, although their moral compasses might not be in much better shape, compared to the guy behind the parking garage.
Posted in Android Tutorials, Debt, Personal finance, Tips & Tricks, Tutorials

How to Add Expenses Straight From Your Lock Screen and Avoid Being Eaten by Wild Boars (iOS)

Do you know that feeling of being chased around a thick forest by a wild boar? You run as quickly as you can, heart pumping at maximum, sweat pouring down your face. But, no matter how hard you try, you still cannot escape the thumping of his small, yet surprisingly swift feet, the sound of his loud breathing as he catches up, to sink his sharp teeth into your…
Well, ok, maybe you don’t know the feeling of that exact situation.
Consider for a second though, that moment when you’re at the grocery store cash register, trying to pack all the food into the bags before the cashier hands you the receipt and gives you the evil eye for being so damn slow. It’s the next closest thing to the wild boar situation.
If you’re a thrill seeker like me, you’ll try to up the game and add the grocery expense to Toshl just after handing the cashier the credit card and before getting the bill back. It’s doable: amount, category, tag, save aaand you’re done. The tricky part is unlocking the phone, finding the Toshl app, tapping on Add expense, then doing the actual adding. There is a solution!

The add entry widget on the Today screen (Notification center).

Screenshot Toshl add expense widget
1. Hold up your iPhone, activate the screen and swipe from the top edge.
2. Tap the big red + button.
3. Toshl opens with Add expense all ready, just waiting for you to enter the amount.
The same also works for incomes and transfers between financial accounts. Just tap the green + button for incomes and the grey + button for transfers.

How to set up the Toshl widget?

 

1. Swipe form the top edge of the screen to open the Today screen.

2. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the Today screen and tap the Edit button.

3. Find Toshl in the list of the apps and tap the green + button next to it, to include it on the Today screen.

4. Use the 3 lines icon on the right to drag it to the top (if your heart so desires).

5. Tap Done.Screenshot edit Today screen in iOS Notification center

Next time you open the Today screen, the 3 Toshl add buttons for expenses, incomes and transfers will be available for quick use.
In case you can’t activate the Today screen while the phone is locked, but would like to, make sure you have that option enabled in the iOS settings.
This feature is available from the version 2.0.6 of the Toshl Finance iOS app onwards.
Toshl monster hunter with dog
Happy grocery hunting!
Posted in iOS Tutorials, Personal finance, Tips & Tricks, Tutorials