Toshl Finance Blog

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

Spending Categories That Learn from You

When an expense or income flies in from a connected bank account, it’s in a raw form. We first need to get to know it better and make it easier to understand at first glance. In most cases, the data that’s available from the bank is the amount, date, financial account and a description of the transaction. This description can be verbose and include info about a specific location, details of the vendor. More often than not, it can also contain just a few cryptic numbers or text that say very little to the untrained eye.

To make this information more useful for analysing your finances, the expenses and incomes need to be analysed and the true meaning of it determined. This means automatically attaching a category and tags, often based on a pretty flimsy description. This process can then tell that a scant point-of-sale description like “LIDL-SI 227” really means category: “Food & Drinks“, tag: “groceries“.

Initial categorisation

The first step in this categorisation is usually done by our bank connection partners like Salt Edge and Plaid, which use anonymous aggregate analysis of millions of transactions to better determine the likely meaning and purpose of this purchase or income.

This however applies general rules that are valid for most people. If we take the example from above, most people will go to Lidl to buy groceries. However, your case may be different. What if you categorise your expenses with custom categories and tags, or visit that shop for a different purpose than most? What if you only visit Lidl to buy cleaning supplies for your racoon farm pet project? You’d edit the expense to re-categorise it as e.g. category; Projects, tags; racoons, cleaning supplies. Doing this editing every time you shop there would be quite a nuisance. This is where Toshl’s personalised categorisation comes in.

Personalised categorisation

In addition to the initial categorisation, Toshl will track your corrections of the categories and tags and match those changes to particular elements of the description. In other words, Toshl will learn from your past choices and apply it to new expenses as they get categorised. Future expenses with similar descriptions will get the categories and tags you chose for other expenses that had those kind of descriptions.

Your racoons will get the recognition they deserve. Finally.


Constantly improving

No automatic categorisation system with such a variety of data and choices can be perfect. Sometimes the available raw data just doesn’t suffice to make an accurate determination, sometimes the use case is just so specific it would be impossible to guess. We’re however doing our utmost to improve and bring you the correct categorisation in the vast majority of cases.

The more you use Toshl and adjust your categories, the more precise it will become. This adjustment feedback can be incorporated both in the initial categorisation as well as the personalised one. With initial categorisation particular venues can get their default categories adjusted, as lots of people anonymously correct the category for a single venue. Your category vote here however is weighed against all others.

With personalised categorisation, the learning will be done specifically for your user account and only your data, so the changes in automatic categorisation and tagging will happen much quicker.

Connect your bank or credit card with Toshl

The automatic categorisation is available with the automatic bank connections in the Toshl Finance apps. Toshl Finance can connect to more than 13 000 types of financial accounts all around the world. Try out the free 30-day trial of Toshl Medici.

Toshl monsters are already learning all possible categories by heart. Just don’t break their hearts by whaling.
Posted in Uncategorized

January Novelties in The Toshl Apps

Platform improvements. These were either improved in all the Toshl apps, or on the server (backend) and thus automatically improve all the Toshl apps.

  • We greatly improved the reliability of detecting transfers between financial accounts. If you’re interested in how and what you can do to better note transfers, see the transfer matching blog post.
  • Detected transfers can also be un-matched into their expense and income constituent parts.
  • Semi-automatic bank connections, those that require an input of credentials whenever updating are now more clearly noted. All the apps now show a notice about this when connecting to the bank. A reminder notification to update the data each week is advised.
  • Expenses and incomes on automatic accounts can now be manually deleted.
  • We’ve increased the date range for which the transactions are available on about 400 bank connections.
  • Various minor reliability improvements on bank connections, to avoid duplicates, make sure entire descriptions of transactions are imported, balances show only the current balance instead of the total available etc.

Android

  • Planned expenses and incomes now show with dates on the list.
  • Customized pins on the location map (lollipops FTW!).

iOS

  • The “my financial month” setting is now available in the mobile app. With it, you can set your financial month to start on a different date than the calendar month. Tap the red month button in the right drawer to set it.

Web App

  • Transaction description previews are now shown directly on the expense and income lists.
  • Updated the report a bug widget, so it’s easier to report bugs or ask questions about specific data from the web app.

We also worked on major features coming in the future, added tons of other minor improvements and fixes, too numerous too list here. But when it all works well, you’ll know they’re there. 😉

Nothing stops us from keeping on improving.
Viježbamo p**** vam materina! (a little joke for all our ex-Yu friends)
Posted in Announcements, Development

Matching Transfers Between Financial Accounts

It matters to know which entry on your bank account is a regular expense or income and which is a transfer between your financial account. Expenses and incomes will be counted in the sums and budgets, while transfers won’t count in those sums (unless you filter out some accounts).

With transfers among your own accounts, just moving your money from one “bucket” to another, while it remains your money. So it shouldn’t count as an income or expense, it’s your internal financial movement.

A few examples of such transfers:

  • transfers between your own bank accounts
  • ATM withdrawals (transfer between a bank account and cash)
  • payment of your monthly credit card bill (transfer from bank account to credit card account)

Automatic transfer matching

Toshl will try to automatically detect transfers between financial accounts whenever the data about the transfer is available.

Typically, there will be an expense on account A and an income on account B. The expense and income will have the same, or at least similar amounts and dates. Toshl will check if the expense and income combination fit the criteria for a transfer and merge them into a transfer if it fits.

Example of a matched transfer between the Intesa Sanpaolo and N26 bank accounts.

If all the data is already there; expense and income parts, and it fits well enough, the transfer will be matched automatically. You don’t need to do anything.

Reviewing entries to match transfers

However, if the transfer detection system cannot be certain enough, it will send those potential transfers for you to review and confirm they are indeed transfers or not. Go to the Bank connections screen in the main menu and click Review entries.

If you already know which exact entry should be a transfer, you can also do this on the entry itself. Just click on it to open the details, then click “Make transfer“.

There can be several reasons why the entries cannot be detected completely automatically. For example, there can be several possible matches for transfers among your accounts and you’d need to choose which is the correct expense and income pair. It’s also possible that the expense or income part of the transfer on the other account is missing. In those cases, we help you fill in the data and create the other part automatically, so that the transfer can be created.

Transfers between different account types

The transfers can work a bit differently based on how the data is entered.

Transfer between two automatic accounts

Automatic accounts are connected to your bank / credit card / financial service and the data gets imported automatically. Because data is imported automatically, transfer matching should happen automatically as well. If it doesn’t, check Bank connections / Review entires or use the Make transfer option on entry details.

In some rare cases, a part of the transfer might be missing if the bank didn’t report it. E.g. income part of transfer not showing up on your credit card account when you pay for it. In such cases, Review entries will help you create the missing part, so the transfer can be created.

Transfers between an automatic and a manual account

A typical example of this is an ATM withdrawal. The transfer will be composed form an expense on the automatic account and an income on the manual account. The expense part will be imported automatically from your bank account. The income part on your cash account will need to be added manually.

Just find the expense on the bank account from which you made the cash withdrawal and tap on it to open details. Then choose “Make transfer” and match it with your Cash account. Toshl will automatically create the income part on the cash account and match them together into a transfer. Your ATM withdrawal will now be a transfer and will no longer count in the expense sum.

Transfers between two manual accounts

Manual accounts are any accounts where you track the incomes and expenses by entering them through the app. You should add the transfers manually there, no automatic matching can be done.

To add a transfer click “Add transfer” below the list of financial accounts.

There’s also a shortcut to make this quicker:

  • in the mobile app: drag the + button up and to the right until it changes to Add transfer, then release the button
  • in the web app: click the + button on the bottom right, like you would to add an expense. Then click the title on top of the form to change it into a transfer.

More details on how transfer matching works

Obviously, the match between the parts of transfer won’t always be perfect. There can be differences in amounts due to exchange rates and fees, transfers can take several days to get from one bank to another and so forth. Some allowances are thus made, enabling the transfers to be matched despite these differences.

  • Toshl tries to find potential matches for all entries that come from bank connections. The detection of matches happens after each update of the bank connections.
  • dates of the expense and incomes must be within 4 days between each other for automatic detection. When reviewing manually, the range for potential matches is expanded to 10 days.
  • the amount of income and expense must be within 5 % to match. It doesn’t matter if they are in different currencies, Toshl will check their converted values in your main currency to match.
  • if more than one potential match is found in the date range, the potential transfer is sent to Bank connections / Review entries and has to be manually reviewed
  • if the entry has been automatically categorized as “Transfer” or the category could not be determined (unsorted), it automatically gets sent to review
  • if a certain entry has not been detected as a transfer, but should have been, just click “Make transfer” on the entry and you can correct it there. Alternatively, you can also change the category to “Transfer” from the list of categories and it will be sent to review after the next update of the bank connections.

After matching all those transfers, Toshl monsters sometimes need to take a step outside.
Posted in Tips & Tricks, Tutorials

Toshl Medici Expands with 3000 New Bank Connections Around the World

Getting control of your finances just got a whole lot easier. Toshl can now connect to 3000 more banks and financial services around the world, bringing the total to about 13 000 financial institutions worldwide.

To the already available banks in the United States and Canada, we’ve added many new connections in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and many more countries. In fact, connections are now available in 60 countries.

Check out the list of available bank connections and countries.

How does it work?

  1. Find your bank, credit card or financial account in the list of bank connections. You can browse by country. First, 12 popular institutions in the country will show up. There’s also a full alphabetical list of available banks below. You can also use search on top to look for your bank by name.
  2. Connect to your account. In most cases this requires entering the username and password or connecting by being redirected to the bank/service’s page to log in. Some banks may require additional security steps.
  3. Choose the date, from when on would you like the data imported. This is important if you’ve been tracking some of these accounts manually before. Pick a date from when on you’d like to switch to automatic and import from there on. How much past data is available varies from bank to bank, it’s most often 2 past months.
  4. See the incomes and expenses fly in! In a few moments, your financial accounts and transactions will be imported from your account, automatically categorized and tagged.

Privacy & Security

Toshl is dedicated to protecting your data and your privacy. You can read more about our policies and precautions we take on our Privacy Policy page.

We work with reliable fintech partners to enable the bank connections. These companies are Salt Edge and Plaid. Plaid mostly covers connections in the US and Canada while Salt Edge provides integrations most of the other connections around the world.

When you enter your bank credentials to connect, Toshl itself does not see or store the credentials. They are saved and kept safe by our connection partners. This is needed to enable the bank connection to keep automatically updating with new data in the background. When you remove the connection, the credentials are deleted as well.

As banks in the European Union (due to PSD2 legislation) and around the world add official APIs (automatic connections), we’ll be updating our connections to support the new authentication and connection methods. With those methods, saving the credentials will no longer be required, as authentication will happen directly with your bank. We’re very much looking forward to these developments.

Availability

To connect your bank, open the Bank connections section in the Toshl Finance Android, iOS or web app.

The automatic bank connections are available to Toshl users with the Toshl Medici subscription plan. See the pricing and all the features that become available with the upgrade. A free 30 day trial is available.

Posted in Uncategorized