I created my very first budget and a budgeting spreadsheet to go along with it about 6 years ago, when I was a grad student living on a meager stipend as a research assistant. I wanted to figure out a way to balance living expenses, fund my expensive hobby of racing triathlons, save for an emergency fund and have fun all at the same time. I knew that the only way that I was going to succeed at this was to make a budgeting spreadsheet and religiously track my expenses on a daily basis.
A lot has changed since then. I managed to finish grad school with no debt to my name (hooray!), and I’m happily living in San Francisco, working at ReadyForZero. But I find that, even now, it’s entirely too easy for me to lose track of my spending and savings goals if I don’t create a budget and meticulously update it to keep track of my cash flow.
Until a few months ago, I was using a slightly updated version of the exact same spreadsheet that I had created for myself 6 years ago to track my spending. In fact, I even wrote a blogpost offering my spreadsheet to anyone who may be interested in trying it for themselves.
I loved it and it worked for me, but I found it a pain to update it all the time. I’m a lot more mobile now than I was back in grad school and sometimes I’d simply forget to add expenses to the sheet. I desperately needed a solution for my budgeting on the go needs.
I know, I know. There are so many mobile apps out there that help you automate expense tracking like Mint.com. I should just automate my expenses and save time, right? Don’t get me wrong, I still use Mint from time to time to track trends in my overall spending. But on a monthly basis, I find that it’s simply not granular enough for the type of control I like to have over my budget. Besides, nothing can make you feel the pain of making an unnecessary purchase quite like manually entering an expense and watching your budget go red.
I had tried a few expense tracking mobile apps to help me stay on track but none of them were doing quite what I was looking for in an app. I had all but given up hope on finding an app that would give me the kind of control, detail and insight into my budget that I craved.
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I had all but given up hope, that is, until I discovered Toshl, the budgeting mobile app of my dreams.
Toshl is a very simple, easy to use mobile app that lets you manually track all your expenses, create budgets, add income streams, view spending trends and more.
From iPhones and iOS to Nokia and Symbian, Toshl is available on just about every major smart phone carrier/operating system available.
Toshl is one of the most intuitive apps I’ve ever used. The sign up process is a breeze — all you need is your name, email and password and you’re good to go!
Now, you can keep track of your expenses as soon as they occur! Went out for drinks with friends and racked up a $25 tab? It’s easy to add an expense. Simply click on the (+) button under the ‘expenses’ tab and enter the desired amount. Add a tag to indicate the category of spending (groceries, travel, gas etc.), add a description to get more precise, hit save and you’re done!
If you have any recurring expenses such as a phone bill or a gym membership, you can also set up your Toshl App to track those automatically so you don’t have to remember to add them.
All this expense tracking would be rather pointless without a budget, wouldn’t it? Which is why Toshl lets you add budgets to help you stay on top of your goals. The free version of Toshl allows you to add a single budget to the app, but If you’d like to add multiple budgets to the app, you’ll need to upgrade to the Toshl Pro account. At $20 a year for the pro subscription, it’s well worth the investment, in my opinion.
You can set up your budgets to automatically track expenses based on certain ‘tagged’ categories. For example, my transportation budget aggregates all expenses that are tagged as bus, gas and cabs. Just like expenses, you can set up recurring budgets on a monthly basis.
We all know the age old adage “Don’t spend more than you earn”. Toshl allows you to add income streams and track your spending against your income so that you know exactly how much you can spend before you exceed your budget and more importantly, what you earn in a month.
With the help of Toshl, I’ve reduced my overall monthly spending by $200 per month over the last 3 months and I’m very proud of that!
The basic version of the app is free and very good on its own. It’s definitely worth trying if you want to track your spending more easily.
And then, if you think you’re ready for the Pro account, we can help you with that! The Toshl team has been nice enough to give us a 20% off discount code exclusively for ReadyForZero blog readers. Note that this is only available to the first 10 people to enter the code “ReadyForZero” upon check out. If you’re one of those 10 people, you’ll only have to pay $16 for the Pro version of the app which includes a 30 day trial with a money back guarantee. That’s about $1.33 per month for 12 months.
Either way – whether you try the free app or the Pro version – I think it can help with your budgeting goals. Go ahead and give it a spin and let me know what you think. Do you love it or hate it? Is it the best thing since sliced bread or am I out of my mind for suggesting this App? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!