Toshl: Putting the Fun Back Into Expense Tracking

There was a time back in primary school when my class had a math lesson that involved sticking to a budget as we went around the classroom ‘buying’ things with money that distinctively resembled Disney Dollars. That was the first and last time that I can remember finding the task of sticking to a budget and tracking expenses as being fun. That was until I came across the app, Toshl.

No longer will you need to hastily scribble your expenses on a crumpled piece of paper or try to mentally calculate how much of your holiday spending budget you have blown on drinks and tacky souvenirs. A few taps in the Toshl app and all will become clear, complete with a few nifty graphs thrown in for good measure. Whether you want to keep track of all your expenses or just a one off budget, such as your Christmas shopping, Toshl can be a real life (and hair) saver. Let’s take a look at Toshl’s main features, functionality and performance.

Getting Started

Toshl is a free app that allows you to track your expenses and analyze your spending habits from the comfort of your phone. Downloading Toshl and registering is as easy as possible. Entering your email address, a password and selecting your currency are the only steps needed before you can start using the app.

Once you are registered you will find four categories at the bottom of the screen: expenses, tags, budget and more. You will also be prompted by a friendly, one-eyed monster to create your first expense. In fact, whether you start by entering your expenses, creating a budget or organizing your tags doesn’t make too much difference, especially as it is so straightforward and easy to edit each one at a later time.

Toshl Registration and Currency Selection

Toshl Registration and Currency Selection

Entering Expenses

To enter an expense, you tap the plus icon from the top right corner of the screen. This brings up a new expense form where you enter the amount spent, add tags and adjust the date (if needed). You can also add a description and make the expense a repeating one. Tagging your expense is required but once you start entering tags into Toshl, they are saved for you to select on later expenses. You can also organize your tags under the tag tab. Deleting and editing an expense is equally as simple. Selecting the expense allows you to delete it straight away or use the edit icon at the top right to make any adjustments.

Entering Your Expense: Amount, Tags and Date

Entering Your Expense: Amount, Tags and Date

Creating a Budget

Creating a budget is done in almost the same way as an entering an expense is. The plus icon on the top right corner of the budget screen brings up a new budget form. The budget form allows you to enter a title, budget amount and a start date. There are two further options, the budget type (one-time, daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) and deciding what the budget is for (all expenses or specific tags). However, the amount of choice you have on these last two options will depend on if you have a free or pro account. Deleting and editing a budget works exactly like expenses. Just select the budget and either delete it straight away or edit it via the icon at the top right.

Budget Overview and Creating a New Budget

Budget Overview and Creating a New Budget

The Web Element

Utilizing the web version of Toshl isn’t necessary but it can provide a more visual insight into your expenses and spending habits. Logging into Toshl.com is done using your email address and password that you set-up when you first started using the Toshl app. Your data is automatically saved to the cloud every time you load the Toshl app (you can adjust this to WiFi and/or mobile only connection) or when you manually force data to the cloud. So your budgets, expenses and tags all show up in the web version automatically.

On the web you can see your expenses, your budget(s) and all the tags that you have entered so far, with a breakdown of how much has been spent per tag. Pro account users can also add and edit expenses online.

Analyzing Where Your Money Went

On the Toshl app itself, you can see a running total of how much you have spent over a period of time. The default setting is 30 days, meaning you see your spending for the last 30 days and also for the previous 30 days. There is the possibility to change this in order to see your spending for a certain month or for ‘all time’. You can also see how much money you have spent per tag. Lastly, you can view your budgets and see how much you have spent and how much is remaining.

You can find the same information on the Toshl.com site. The only difference is that there, depending on your account type, you may be able to see the information broken down into different additional graphs.

Total Money Spent and Budget Details

Total Money Spent and Budget Details

Security

Finances and the internet when combined always seem to get people on their guard and understandably so. Even though the details that you are entering are in no way connected to your actual financial accounts, Toshl has thought of this and taken it on board. They promise never to give away your information and SSL encryption is used on both free and pro accounts.

Pricing

To use Toshl in its basic form is free. This does limit you to only one budget and the ability to export data only in text (.csv) form but a free account still allows you to save to the cloud and utilize the basic graphs. For $19.95 a year, you can go pro, giving you access to:

  • multiple budgets
  • budgets for specific tags
  • exporting to Excel, PDF and Google Docs, in addition to text
  • exporting data for specific months or tags
  • automated email reports
  • searching your expenses
  • advanced graphs

There is a no questions asked money back, 30 day guarantee on going pro. So you can always try it and change your mind later.

Going Pro and the More Tab

Going Pro and the More Tab

Conclusion

Toshl is an easy-to-use, useful and attractively-designed app for keeping track of how much you have spent, where and when. It’s simple; simple in the way that has you using it straight away versus the simple that has you looking for another app to pick up the slack.

The single budget limitation of the free account is a key reason for upgrading to pro status. One budget, in addition to not being all that useful, also limits the ability to evaluate how well the app could work for your circumstances. However, for only $19.95 a year, it is unlikely that going pro before you have the app all figured out is going to break your newly created budget.

It would be great to see Toshl put a little more emphasis into the “money saved” aspect of budget keeping. A graph showing a build-up of the unused money from closed budgets, for example. Toshl could also benefit from the ability to deselect expenses without deleting them, to allow the user the ability to plan and negotiate their spending: an “if I don’t buy this DVD I can afford the magazine and 14 chocolate bars” approach. Nonetheless, Toshl’s interactive graphs and appealing design make expenses and budgets a more positive experience and perhaps even a bit fun (gasp!).


Summary

If you have avoided budget and expense tracking apps because they were too complicated or boring than avoid no further. Toshl is an easy-to-use, attractively designed app that will keep your expenses in order and your budgets on track.

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