Toshl Blog

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

Useful Personal Finance Blogs and Podcasts

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

 

If you are interested to know more about personal finances, here is a short guide through some of the most notable bloggers, podcasters and other writers. Some of them cover just private investment, while others are financial independence seekers. Some are both. They are a good resource of information about investing, especially for beginners. The list is quite Europe-oriented, but a lot of financial tips are universal and you can quickly find similar resources for your home country.

 

Blogs

Monevator is an investor and a blogger from UK with a massive internal knowledge on the functioning of the financial industry. He strongly believes in personal freedom and acts accordingly. His blog is a great resource for small investors, but also for people who want to know more about the financial world.

 

Finanzrocker and Finanzwesir (in German) are the German equivalents of Monevator. From their home turf in northern Germany they write about the possibilities of investment in the German market, peculiarities of tax regulations and similar. Finanzrocker is more interested in the modern tools, such as robo-advisors or P2P lending, while Finanzwesir is interested in more traditional investments.

 

Mr. Money Mustache is most probably the best resource about early retirement and financial independence. He started writitng his blog in 2011 and has since then covered all of the most important topics for early retirees.

 

1.500 Days to Freedom covers similar topics as Mr. Money Mustache, but in a more fun way. His posts are also very short and full of other material, such as pictures and videos.

 

Madame Moneypenny (in German) is a German blogger about financial independence, who writes about it from a woman’s perspective.

 

Podcasts

Mad Fientist should be the first and foremost resource for podcasts about financial independence. Even though he is not a natural speaker, he compensates with funny and interesting guests, covering topics such as private investing and real estate.

 

Finanzwesir rockt (in German) is a monthly podcast, where Finanzwesir and Finanzrocker confront their different opinions on investment related topics. The podcast is very German-oriented, but their conclusions can be applied in other markets as well.

 

Bigger pockets podcast, also as video cast, specialized for real-estate investment. The topic is very specific, and focused on the USA market.

 

Do you know other great resources worth sharing? Share them with us.

 

Posted in Guest posts

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

Review Your 2016 Finances & New Planning Feature

As 2016 comes to an end, it’s time for a look back at you finances throughout the year. Hopefully they fared much better than the ranks of legends and celebrities this year, so it will be more of a look back in joy than a look back in anger.

First, a quick tip on how to get your 2016 financial reports in 3 easy clicks. On toshl.com click on the time span on top, click the  “Custom time span” tab, then the “2016” button. Voila! All your graphs and data in Toshl will now be filtered to 2016.

 

Time span tutorials Web, Android, iOS

See the River flow graph to know how well your finances balanced-out in 2016, expense and incomes graphs to see where you’ve spent and earned most.

 

Planning

We also have a holiday surprise this year, which will make reviewing your past finances much, much better. It’s called Planning.

It’s a brand new feature which compares your balances, expenses, incomes as well as net worth throughout the months and years. You can also compare spending on individual categories and tags.

In fact, you can filter any of the data in the Planning graph with the usual filters available in Toshl. You can thus decide to only include certain financial accounts, categories, tags or even locations.

 

 

The feature is currently in Beta testing. That means it will work well for the most part, but there might still be a glitch or two to iron out in some cases. If you come across any difficulties, please let us know so we can fix it.

Planning is free during the Beta testing period, but will be limited to Toshl Pro later on.

At the moment, Planning is available on the web app and will me making its way to the Toshl mobile apps in the future.

We hope it will come useful and we’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

You’ll find Planning (Beta) in the main menu in the web app. Or just click the link below.

 

Try Planning

 

Posted in Announcements, Tips & Tricks

Toshl for Android 2.0.13 – Monstrous Festivus Edition

The holiday season is upon us. Saint Nicholas day has recently passed and I’m sure you’re getting your Festivus pole ready for the season. It will be 2017 before you know it, and with it, time again for some New Year’s resolutions to get your finances aligned with your lifestyle. Or vice versa.

The Toshl monsters are warming up nicely, getting ready to give you a hand. Both with assessing how 2016 went financially and how to plan for the future. After all, Toshl monsters are the ones who put the “ass” into “assess”.

Some larger Toshl surprises are in store, but first off, let’s see what’s new in the latest update of Toshl for Android that we released today.

 

2.0.13 improvements
– Added expense and income sums to navigation.
– Added launcher shortcuts on Pixel phones and devices with Android 7.1.
– Added the initial sync screen, so Toshl monsters greet you whence you first log into the app.
– Added accounts and financial months swiping hint and infinite accounts swiping. In other words, the months and accounts will wobble a bit when you open the sidebar, giving you a hint about how they work.
– Updated monsters for the holidays. Find a long list of expenses or incomes, scroll all the way down and say hello!
– Updated currency formatting. Whether the currency is left or right of the amount now depends on your system settings.
– Improved entries list loading performance.
– Fixed several crashes. Although we made an exception for Toshl monsters riding bumper cars. Those can still crash. Because it’s fun. But it’s in a different dimension, so you won’t notice.

 

As always, download the latest Toshl Finance update on Google Play.

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Posted in Announcements