Category: Personal finance

How to Spend Less in Summer: Hints for Shoppers

Summertime. We are craving for it in the frosty winter evenings, we are waiting for it in the rainy spring mornings. When the desired season finally comes, we are constantly looking for an air-conditioned shelter: at home, office or… shopping mall. 

Summer is meant to be vacation time. It is calling upon us to go on sparkling adventures: traveling, visiting open-air events, hanging out with our friends… shopping. All this can be very appealing. At the same time, the long wish-lists push us to spend more in this season. 
Surely, there are ways to spend less in summer. We have already wrote about how to spend less on a summer trip in one of our previous blog posts. Today we are going to look at another challenge —  shopping.

Shopping therapy and its traps

We tend to overspend on special occasions. Why wouldn’t you indulge a bit more on vacations? It’s a case where our inner wishes match the intentions of the sales industry.

In sales, the summer is also known as a season of discounts and special offerings. Thus, if we go with this flow, we might end up overspending. And we might buy lots of things that are not necessary for us.

Researchers Selin Atalay and Margaret Meloy found that 62 percent of shoppers had purchased something to cheer themselves up, and another 28 percent had bought something to celebrate. This type of shopper is likely involved in “retail therapy”

It is true that if we feel bad, getting a new thing might improve our mood immediately. Shopping provokes us to imagine ourselves in a “better” life, where we’re dressed in fancy clothes and surrounded by pleasant-looking things. Purchasing makes those dreams seem real. 

And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with it: as proved by many great athletes, visualization can boost our performance and reduce anxiety. On the other hand, this shopping effect does not stay long enough to make us really happy. Moreover, when you tend to shop impulsively, you risk overspending your budget. In some cases, if the pattern of thoughtless shopping behaviour repeats quite frequently, it might be a sign of an addiction.

So, how to resist summer shopping when thousands of shops are offering incredible discounts? Of course, you can give in and buy the things you don’t need, often can’t afford. But how do you get rid of this budget-killing habit? 

Track and analyse your expenses

Experts say that the most effective first step for changing this habit is to identify why and how your shopping initially became a problem. They suggest starting to write a journal to keep track of our triggers. 

Here, the Toshl Finance app will be very handy. Simply keep tracking your expenses and incomes and add relevant categories and tags. 

If you are a Toshl Medici subscriber, you don’t need to add your expenses or incomes manually, they just fly in from your connected bank account. In this case, the smart categorisation system is learning from your past patterns and predicting the categories. To see how it works, try out the free 30-day trial of Toshl Medici.

If you keep tracking your expenses on a daily basis, you’ll discover the trends in your spending. Just check the Expense graphs. This chart will easily visualise your spending habits. If the category “Clothing & Footwear” is getting the largest space on the chart, it is an alarm. Reawake your willpower and limit yourself. 

Next time you see a new purse with a -70% or a new tablet with a -50% discount, try to think twice if you really need to buy any. In most cases, choosing one thing means giving up something else. Money spent on one thing could be the money spent on another thing. And there are always better (smarter) alternatives. For instance, for many of us, having some funds in a retirement savings account will be more useful in a couple of years than having lots of useless things at our apartments. 

Budgeting is important

Psychologists note that smart budgeting can increase our feeling of happiness. If we plan our expenses in advance, we might spend more money and time on the things that make us happiest.

University of Georgia’s Dr. Matt J. Goren suggests dividing our potential expenses into wants and needs while budgeting. In simple words: needs are “required stuff” (a necessity to buy a new laptop if your old one is broken and cannot be fixed) and wants are always the “fun stuff” (a desire to get a newer laptop when you still have a working one). 

According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, when we satisfy our lower levels of needs (physiological and safety needs), we get motivated enough to reach the higher levels (love, self-respect, and self-actualization). This way, we feel happier if our basic needs are covered. 

This applies to our fixed needs — such as food. Essentially, we are more vital and productive when we aren’t hungry. It can refer to variable needs as well, such as emergency expenses — a new substitute for a worn-out device. If you’re a freelancer and your laptop gets broken, you might have an urgent expense related to your job security.

Fixed needs are the stuff we can’t deny ourselves in everyday life, but we definitely can spend less on it. Variable needs such as any unexpected expenses are less pleasant for our pocket. If you plan some reserves in your budget for emergency cases, you will go through any stressful event having less negative emotions.

Photo by Maria Vernigora on Unsplash

When we spend on our wants, we can feel even happier. The thing is the duration of happiness depends on the type of want. 

Fixed wants are our daily expenses and are usually the result of our habits. For instance, every day you stop by a coffee place and buy some fancy drink (a premium quality espresso). When you discover that 500 g package of this coffee can be purchased at the local grocery store for a price you pay for the two cups at the coffee place, you will be surprised how much money you could have saved just drinking this coffee at home. The thing you need to do is to modify your daily premium espresso ritual. You might buy your favourite coffee at the grocery store and enjoy it at any time.

No, we should not neglect our wants. Covering some of the variable wants can motivate us and make us feel good. For instance, you might get inspired by the trip to Spain. The memories from this trip will stay longer than memories from buying a new pair of shoes. Buying experiences instead of things can contribute to our mental well-being. 

All in all, if we reduce spending on our fixed needs and fixed wants and plan some costs for our variable needs, we’ll have more money on our variable wants. As a result, we could afford enriching experiences such as postgraduate education or opening our own company and grow as personalities. To get to this goal, budgeting your expenses is a really good start.

For starters, find the Achilles heel of your spending: check your expenses graph and find which of your expenses really stand out. You can easily create a monthly budget aimed precisely at your spending weakness, for example, Clothes & Footwear, then set the budget to equal the amount you can spend on your monthly clothing needs. Toshl monsters will warn you as you approach the limit, so you could stop and think before buying some related product impulsively. Moreover, if you don’t go over the budget limit, you’ll definitely feel relieved. And all the summer sales ads will pass as a pointless buzz.

Already hot, eh? If you read these lines drinking a juice at the shopping mall, just remember to spend smart at the summer sales, track your expenses precisely and make budgets in advance. But whatever you do: don’t forget to enjoy your summertime. Make it magic. ;)


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

Track Your Cryptocurrency Assets on Bitstamp, Bitfinex and Coinbase with Toshl

Tracking all your Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and other assets on cryptocurrency exchanges just got a whole lot easier. Toshl can now automatically connect to Bitstamp, Bitfinex and Coinbase exchanges. With these integrations, your crypto accounts can be automatically uploaded with latest balances, as well as individual transactions.

 

You’ll always see the crypto value side-by-side with the current value in your main currency, which is likely the one you’re most used to thinking in.

This applies both to the account balances as well as the prices of individual transactions. So there’s no need to search for “BTC to USD” conversions and manual calculations. You’ll see the exact price for all your assets right next to your account.

 

How to connect to the cryptocurrency exchange?

Setting up the connection to a cryptocurrency exchange is very similar to any other bank connection in Toshl. Go to the Bank connections section and click “New bank connection“.

You can then search for an individual exchange or click the country dropdown on the top right and select “Multiple countries”. All the crypto exchanges will be listed there.

Choosing crypto exchanges to connect to

 

Once you select the exchange you wish to connect, you’ll need to enter your credentials. With Coinbase, you’ll be redirected to their website where you can log in and confirm the connection.

With Bitstamp and Bitfinex, you will first need to create an API key on their respective websites. More detailed instructions on how to create the API key are available on the Toshl connection page. It’s a few extra clicks, but quite easy to do. The API key is there to enable the automatic connection without Toshl ever having to know your account password, which adds an extra layer of security.

Bitfinex log in

Once you’ve entered the required info, you can select how much data you want to import from the cryptocurrency exchange. You can get all the past data, data from a specific date onward or from now on. With Coinbase, you can select this after the credentials are verified.

Then just click Connect.

All done! Toshl will now download the data and show it in Toshl. Don’t forget you can set a filter to only see data from particular financial accounts or categories.

 

Tracking assets in crypto wallets

While tracking the assets in your crypto wallets is not available yet, you can also track them manually using a normal financial account in Toshl. Make a new manual financial account in Toshl, choose the currency the account will be denominated in and the current balance. You can then add transfers or incomes and expenses to that account.

If you often transfer money from your exchange accounts to your crypto wallet, Toshl can half-automate this for you. The transfer will likely be automatically detected on your exchange account and will just be missing info about the part of the transfer in your wallet. Go to Bank connnections, click on “Review entries” on your crypto exchange connection. There, you can confirm which incomes and expenses are really transfers and Toshl will offer to automatically fill in the manual portion of the transfer on your wallet account, so you can sort it all out in 2 clicks.

 

Currencies and exchange rates

The exchange rates for entries and balances on the connected accounts are fetched from the particular cryptocurrency exchange you’re using.

If you’re adding a cryptocurrency entry to a manual account that isn’t connected to an exchange, Toshl will suggest a middle rate for the currency. You can also enter a completely custom exchange rate, if you so prefer.

We’ve also added support and fresh exchange rates for 35 new crypto currencies. Together with the previous additions of currencies in February and July 2017 this brings the total count to 55.

 

Latest cryptocurrency additions

Rates for these are provided by Bitfinex.

 

Ethereum Classic (ETC)

Recovery Right Tokens (RRT)

Zcash (ZEC)

CST Core (BCC)

CST Unlimited (BCU)

Iota (IOTA)

EOS

Santiment (SAN)

OmiseGO (OMG)

Bitcoin cash (BCH)

NEO

ETP

Qtum (QTUM)

BG1 (BT1)

BG2 (BT2)

Aventus (AVT)

Eidoo (EDO)

BTG

Streamr (DATA)

QASH

AidCoin (AID)

Basic Attention Token (BAT)

aelf (ELF)

FunFair (FUN)

Decentraland (MNA)

Ethfinex Nectar Token (NEC)

RCN

Augur (REP)

iExec (RLC)

SingularDTV (SNG)

SpankChain (SPK)

Time New Bank (TNB)

TRON (TRX)

YOYOW (YYW)

0x (ZRX)

 

 

List of cryptocurrencies available in Toshl

February 2018, alphabetical, all currencies are updated with latest exchange rates

 

0x (ZRX)
aelf (ELF)
AidCoin (AID)
Augur (REP)
Aventus (AVT)
Basic Attention Token (BAT)
BG1 (BT1)
BG2 (BT2)
Bitcoin (BTC)
Bitcoin cash (BCH)
BitShares (BTS)
BTG
CST Core (BCC)
CST Unlimited (BCU)
Dash (DASH)
Decentraland (MNA)
DogeCoin (DOGE)
EarthCoin (EAC)
Eidoo (EDO)
Emercoin (EMC)
EOS
Ethereum (ETH)
Ethereum Classic (ETC)
Ethfinex Nectar Token (NEC)
ETP
Factom (FCT)
Feathercoin (FTC)
FunFair (FUN)
iExec (RLC)
Iota (IOTA)
LindenDollar
LiteCoin (LTC)
Monero (XMR)
Namecoin (NMC)
NEO
NovaCoin (NVC)
Nxt (NXT)
OmiseGO (OMG)
Peercoin (PPC)
Primecoin (XPM)
QASH
Qtum (QTUM)
RCN
Recovery Right Tokens (RRT)
Ripple (XRP)
Santiment (SAN)
SingularDTV (SNG)
SpankChain (SPK)
Stellar (STR)
Streamr (DATA)
Time New Bank (TNB)
TRON (TRX)
VertCoin (VTC)
YOYOW (YYW)
Zcash (ZEC)

 

Toshl Medici

The Toshl Medici subscription plan is required to automatically connect Toshl to financial institutions. Medici also enables automatic connections to banks in the Unites States, with more than 9000 connections available. We’re working on adding more bank and financial service connections worldwide.

Medici badge

 

Update 26. 2. 2018: Updated the post with 15 more currencies that were subsequently added.

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

Finish Financial 2017 with Flying Colors and Jump Wholeheartedly into 2018

May your 2018 be a good one! Full of joy, financial success and free from needless worry.

 

We’ve prepared some tips to help make these wishes a reality.

 

Check how you did in 2017

It’s easy to do. Just tap the month, click on “Custom time span” and then tap “2017”. The graphs and lists in Toshl will now show you the information for the entire year.

1. Follow the River flow to see how your incomes and expenses fared together.

2. Expense graphs might come useful too. Tap a category on the pie chart or a tag bubble to see more info for each.

3. Don’t forget to check the budgets. Budget history is especially important. Based on it, you can adjust your budget amounts for 2018. Hopefully it will free up some money for saving or spending.

 

Plan ahead for 2018

I know it seems far right now, but this is a good time to start planning your vacations and other major expenses in 2018.

4. Perhaps make savings account and set up automatic monthly transfers to it. That way you’ll be ready when the spending time comes.

5. Enter any future expenses you already know of to Toshl. At least a rough estimate. They’ll show up nicely on the Planning graphs so you can balance out each month in advance.

 

Connect your bank or credit card

Toshl can now automatically connect to banks and credit cards in the United States. This means your spending and income data flies in automatically without the need for manual entries.

We’ll be expanding the offer to more countries and financial institutions in 2018.

 

Toshl monsters really got into the holiday spirit. They’re like ninjas of joy. You never know where the festivities will strike next!

Embrace your inner Toshl monster.

Toodaloo!

Posted in Personal finance, Tips & Tricks

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