Category: Travel

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

How to Manage Money when Travelling?

Imagine that your exciting journey is over and you are already in your home slippers drinking coffee from a Spanish local market. Visiting another country was a truly enriching experience. You got to know the locals and their incredibly friendly approach to foreigners, learnt new funny words in their language, tried traditional food and drinks (oh, those locals know how to enjoy their life!), made all the typical tourist photos and visited most of the must-see points. Wandering around various places, you lost a few kilos, though your wallet got thinner, too. Now it is time to take a breath and reflect on the financial side of your adventure. What could you do to track your expenses while travelling?

As experienced travelers, we’d love to share some simple hints with you. This piece of advice can make your journey easier and less stressful, and you can keep your travel expenses under control.

Create a budget for your trip

First of all, define your budget before you go on the trip. For instance, you plan to visit Valencia (Spain) for one week. It could be very useful to calculate an approximate budget amount in advance and set it in Toshl app as a one-time budget. To do so:

  1. Open the Toshl app, go to the Budgets section in the main menu.
  2. Add a new one by tapping the “+” button.
  3. Name your budget (e.g. My Awesome Travel Plan).
  4. Select the time period: one-time budget, and enter the dates of your trip.
  5. Set an amount that you are going to spend.

When the budget is set, you can check the daily amount you are able to spend within your budget limit. For that, just go back to Budgets and check your one-time budget graph.

Keep a track of your expenses

When everything is ready for the trip, and the departure day arrives, make sure that you take your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Please be kind to Toshl monsters, and they will assist you on your way. To do so, just keep in mind to add your expenses to Toshl app whenever you make a purchase or pay for a service.

If you use Toshl Medici and have set a bank connection, your bank / financial service transactions will be added automatically to your expenses. In this case, don’t forget to enter your cash expenses though.

ATM withdrawals

In case you withdraw some amount from an ATM, it could be set as a transfer in Toshl app. The transfer will be composed of an expense on the bank account and an income on the cash account. For Toshl Medici subscribers that have set a bank connection, the expense part will be imported automatically from the bank account. The income part on cash account will need to be added manually.

Attach receipt photos

If you are Toshl Pro or Toshl Medici user, don’t forget that you can take a photo of the receipt and attach it to your expense. It is very convenient if you go on a business trip and need to save some receipts for reporting. It could be also useful when you want to save a bill to split an expense for lunch or dinner with your friends. Or perhaps, you’d like to take a photo of the souvenir (or the receipt for it) that you have just bought at the city museum… Using the handy photo feature, you don’t need to carry a bunch of paper bills in your backpack anymore! Yay!

Currency calculator

The currency converter feature can be really useful if you travel to a country with a different currency. In Toshl Finance you can use practically any currency you want. We support 200 different currencies from around the world with hourly updated exchange rates. This means that you can travel or move anywhere and enter local expenses in any currency. There is no need to use a calculator: just add an expense in destination country’s currency in Toshl app. The preview in your main currency will be shown on every expense entry. Besides, you might create a budget or an account in foreign currency, customize the currency exchange rates (if using a particular rate at exchange office), or even change the main currency in which you use the app. Toshl monsters will take care of all the calculations.

Spending control

To control your spending flow every day, just check your travel budget. The graph will show the current status and how much is left to spend. No worries, hard-working Toshl monsters will notify you on overspending, so you can take care of your finances on time.

Keep an eye on your accounts

When you are not really sure whether to pay in cash or by card, you might want to check the amounts on your accounts (cash and bank) in Toshl app. For instance, this could be very handy when you need to make quick decisions and you don’t really remember how much money is left in your wallet or bank account. Toshl monsters will provide this information for you. In order to get it, just tap the Accounts button on the top right of the screen, or swipe anywhere from the right side of the screen.

Prepaid and temporary credit cards

In case you want to feel secure using bank cards on your trip, you might create an additional prepaid card at any bank before you go abroad. You may use a prepaid card when you withdraw some amount from an ATM or go shopping. For that, you have to calculate and put a relevant amount on this card before you go travelling. Just make sure you add the prepaid card to Toshl app and keep an eye on your spending. If the new card is with a bank you had already connected earlier, it will be added automatically.

All is well that ends well

It is possible to make your travel stress-free if you keep an eye on your finances at least a little bit. Toshl will try to make it as easy as possible. The reward will come in the end when you get the message from Toshl monsters that you have saved some money on this trip. Great job! Now you may finally enjoy a coffee from the Valencian market and draw some pictures of orange trees seen at the city gardens. It was a memorable, inspiring trip and you managed it well.

The Toshl monsters won’t let you go bankrupt on your trip. As for morally bankrupt, that one’s up to you. ;)
Posted in Tips & Tricks, Travel

Currencies in Toshl Finance – Ounces of Gold Welcome (Web App)

In Toshl Finance you can use practically any currency you want. We support 165 different currencies from around the world with hourly updated exchange rates and historical daily exchange rates going back more than 15 years. This in practice means that you can travel or move anywhere, enter local expenses or even change the main currency in which you use the apps. Toshl will have your back.

Add an expense, income or a transfer in a foreign currency
The most common way in which you’ll encounter foreign currencies is usually when adding an expense, income or a transfer. Click on the currency symbol next to the amount and a plethora of currencies shall open in a dropdown menu.
On the very top of the list are your 5 recently used currencies. Your main currency is there by default, as well as the 4 other currencies that you recently used, other than your main one.
Below the recently used currencies you’ll find all the 165 currencies in an alphabetical list. The name of the currency is always followed by the currency symbol or abbreviation, as it will be displayed on the expense details and lists. The last piece information is the standardised three-letter international code of the currency.
Quick hint: If you start typing on the keyboard, the list will jump to the letters that you typed. This works with any standard dropdown on the web. Quite useful for finding what you want on long lists quickly.
Among the many national and supranational (e.g. the Euro) currencies you’ll expect to find, there’s also a few more unusual ones. If your job description includes 17th century pillaging on the high seas you might appreciate entering your incomes in troy ounces of gold (XAU) – or ounces of silver (XAG). If your dealings are more high finance than high seas, then the International Monteray Fund’s special drawing rights (XDR), might be more up your alley. Let’s not forget the the favourite child of financial innovation in recent years, Bitcoin. It’s of course also available as a full fledged currency in Toshl.
Once you’ve chosen your foreign currency, you’ll find the Add expense form a bit changed.
Below the amount you can see a preview of how the amount this is worth today in your main currency, or the currency of the financial account your are adding the expense to – if it’s different than the main currency.
A bit lower is the exchange rate that will be used for the transfer. By default, the exchange rate is already entered with the automatically fetched rate that we suggest. The exchange rates are updated hourly and are a middle rate from a variety of sources.
You can of course enter a completely custom exchange rate of your choosing. This is especially useful when you’re exchanging your money locally in a foreign country or at a bank. They usually won’t offer the middle neutral rate, but one slightly in their favour so they can make a profit on the exchange. If you’ve found a good deal it will be only slightly in their favour, but the differences can be quite large.
You’ll still see our suggested rate in grey text below the field below so you can better orient yourself even if you’ve entered a custom one.
If you’re editing an old expense that you wish to refresh with the latest rate you can click the refresh button next to it and the latest exchange rate for that day will be inserted.
Exchange rates on repeating expenses
If you add a repeating entry in a foreign currency we’ll ask you how to handle the exchange rate. A new exchange rate can be applied on each day when the expense repeats or it can remain the same as the rate hen you first entered it. Of course you can still manually set the rate on an individual repeat of the entry if you so prefer.
Active currency
Once you’ve saved an entry, the currency that you chose has become your active currency. That simply means that the next time you’re adding an expense, this active currency will be suggested by default. It will remain your active currency until you add an entry with a different currency or change the active currency in the Settings.
You can select your previously active currencies with appropriate exchange rates again by selecting one of the five currencies in the recently used part of the currencies dropdown menu.
Historical data for past entries
It might surprise you that the suggested exchange rate on an entry will change if you change the date. That is because Toshl can access historical data for the exchange rates between currencies back to 1999. That way, when you enter an expense, the correct value of that expense on that day will be recorded. No more worries about currency fluctuations or inflation messing with your financial memories.
Main currency
The main currency is most likely the currency of the country where you live, the currency in which you think. This is the currency in which all the graphs, sums etc. are displayed. You can have entries, budgets or account in different currencies, but they will always have an exchange rate so you can know how much they’re worth in your main currency when it’s all summed up.
There are circumstances where your main currency changes. Either you move somewhere else, your country adopts a new currency or you decide that you like decimals so much that you’re prepared to do all your thinking in Bitcoins from now on.
When changing a main currency there are 3 ways to do it:
– according to historical exchange rates (recommended)
– using one exchange rate
– changing the currency symbol, without changing the values
According to historical exchange rates
Toshl will check on which date the expense was entered and apply the exchange rate between the currency in which it was entered and the new main currency on that date. The entries will stay in the original currency on the lists, but the value in main currency and the sums will be adjusted accordingly.
Using one exchange rate
Toshl will suggest the exchange rate valid for today to convert all entry values to the new currency. You can also change the exchange rate to a completely custom rate of your liking. The entries will stay in the original currency on the lists, but the value in main currency and the sums will be adjusted accordingly.
Changing the currency symbol
This is mostly useful if you’ve started entering with a wrong main currency selected. The values are already in the new currency, you just want to change the symbol next to all the expenses in the previous (wrong) main currency. This approach will not update the entry values at all, it will just switch the currency symbol.
The first two options will apply the value changes to all entries (expenses, incomes, transfers) and budgets in the original main currency. You can choose whether you want to change the financial accounts in the old main currency to the new main currency as well.
Warning: In most cases there should be no data loss, but some custom exchange rates can be lost with multiple changes. For example: your main currency is the Euro and you have some expenses entered in Brazilian Reals. There is an exchange rate between those two currencies saved for each expense. If you then change your main currency from Euros to Reals, the exchange rate on those entries in Reals is now lost because the expense currency is the same as the main currency, so the rate can only be 1. If you then change back to Euro as the main currency, these expenses can have the historical exchange rate for that day applied again, but if you had entered a custom exchange rate before, it was sadly lost. It should only be a minor discrepancy for most, but if you often enter custom rates and change main currencies it is a thing to look out for.
Posted in Personal finance, Tips & Tricks, Travel, Tutorials, Web App Tutorials

Travel with Toshl Finance – keep on top of your expenses in different currencies

Traveling abroad is awesome. Broadens your horizons, gets you out if your normal routine and into new experiences. While a small nuisance in comparison to the benefits, tracking your money-flow can be much more difficult. The currency is different, so keeping track of how much you spend is more difficult because you have to do all these extra calculations in your mind. Here’s where Toshl Finance really shines.

Foreign currencies in Toshl Finance

When you’re adding an expense, simply tap the currency button next to the numeric keyboard. You’ll get a list of currencies you can switch to. For those that are on the list we’ll also suggest the daily exchange rate for that currency. If you want to add your own exchange rate, you’re welcome to do so.

Select the foreign currency on the numeric keyboardSelect the foreign currency on the numeric keyboard

Get an exchange rate automaticallyGet an exchange rate automatically

Toshl will remember the currency you chose until the next time you change it. That way you can easily enter all your expenses as you spend them in the foreign currency. Tap the added expense to see the details and you’ll see it in calculated in your home currency too.

Quick tip: with this you can also use Toshl as a quick currency calculator if you like.

The daily sums add up in your main currencyThe daily sums add up in your main currency

See the valute in your main currency on expense detailSee the value in your main currency on expense detail

All the daily sums and graphs use the numbers in your home currency so your figures always add up properly, no matter where you’ve been.

All your foreign expenses are converted and fit right in the graphsAll your foreign expenses are converted and fit right in the graphs

How are the currency exchange rates updated?

The currency list is refreshed with the new exchange rates for the day each time you sync. Of course you can also add any of the currencies which isn’t on the list, by choosing “Custom currency” from the list. In that case you’ll need to know the exchange rate yourself.

Here’s the list of 34 currencies that Toshl knows the daily exchange rates for. We’d like to support the rest too, but the European Central Banks provides the rates for those currencies, the rest have to be added manually. Getting the rates from different sources would be a bit too complicated for the time being.

  • Euro
  • US dollar
  • Japanese yen
  • Bulgarian lev
  • Czech koruna
  • Danish krone
  • Pound sterling
  • Hungarian forint
  • Lithuanian litas
  • Latvian lats
  • Polish zloty
  • New Romanian leu
  • Swedish krona
  • Swiss franc
  • Norwegian krone
  • Croatian kuna
  • Russian rouble
  • Turkish lira
  • Australian dollar
  • Brasilian real
  • Canadian dollar
  • Chinese yuan renminbi
  • Hong Kong dollar
  • Indonesian rupiah
  • Israeli shekel
  • Indian rupee
  • South Korean won
  • Mexican peso
  • Malaysian ringgit
  • New Zealand dollar
  • Philippine peso
  • Singapore dollar
  • Thai baht
  • South African rand

We hope Toshl will come handy wherever you travel to. Since it’s already being used in all kinds of places we have no doubt that the support for different currencies comes in handy many times. If you have some questions or ideas about currencies, we’d love to hear from you, international men and women of mystery. ;)

Posted in Tips & Tricks, Travel, Tutorials