Review: Toshl Finance
Sooner or later we all need to keep an eye on our finances, and doing so requires a dependable tool. Expense tracking apps have been on mobile devices for as long as, well, for as long as there have been mobile devices! The problem is that they've been data silos that are tricky to get your data in and out of. In this age of cloud computing, we need an expense tracking app that's backed up by a cloud service so we can easily access our data from anywhere and any device. That's exactly what Toshl is, so let's take a look.
Version Reviewed: 1.7
In essence, all expense tracking applications are structurally similar and so it can be tricky to differentiate from the competition. However, Toshl actually manages to pull it off – and, by the way, that's Toshl with an "l" not an "i".
As mentioned above, Toshl is actually a web application, with the mobile client simply accessing the data stored in your central account. This is a crucial difference to ye olde expense trackers that simply stored your data locally, and that was all they wrote … literally.
Toshl has mobile clients available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Symbian – all versions are practically identical though. Here we're reviewing both the Windows Phone and Symbian versions, for All About Windows Phone and our sister site, All About Symbian, respectively.
The first thing that will strike you about Toshl is its visual style. The team have done a good job of making a dry, boring task which we would normally avoid into something fun and enjoyable, due to a group of illustrated cutesy characters – who I can only describe as little robotic monsters – that populate the apps and website.
Account Creation [Symbian]
The first thing to do is to sign into Toshl. The application supports native logins and account creation. However, the website supports Google login as well. That option isn't present on the mobile clients though. Therefore, if you created an account on the desktop website by authenticating via Google, you'll either need a new free account or you'll have to contact Toshl via its feedback page.
There are four main views to Toshl, whether you access via tabs, buttons or Metro UI panoramas (yes, I am still calling it Metro!). In order, these are Expenses, Income, Budgets, and 'Sum Up'. The first two are where you enter all of your transactions – to save some time, items can be set to recur. You can further categorise your transactions by adding tags (i.e. keywords).
Income and Expenses [Windows Phone 7]
Note, the Windows Phone version of Toshl also offers to associate your current location with a transaction too, with which you can view a Bing map of what you have spent where. This feature is not present on Symbian.
The budgets view allows you to see how many remaining funds you have for a given set of transactions. Budgets can be set up to include all transactions or just for specific tags. However, this is where we step into the limitation of free Toshl accounts. Free users can only set up one budget, to have more requires a 'Pro' account, which is actually quite inexpensive at USD 19.99 per year. Budgets can also be set up to carry forward any remaining balance from the previous period. The free version of Toshl allows you to export your data to a CSV file, but the Pro version provides PDF and Excel formats too.
Viewing budgets [Windows Phone 7]
The 'Sum Up' view simply shows you the running total of all your income and expenses and your overall balance. The 'Time Span' option, accessed via the clock icon, allows you to create a 'Sum Up' view for a custom period of time, thus adding further flexibility to assess your cash flow.
Setting up a Time Span view [Left: Windows Phone, Right: Symbian]
The Windows Phone version of Toshl takes advantage of the live tile functionality by allowing you to pin individual balances and your general 'Sum Up' page to the Start screen. Each live tile displays a line chart of running balance.
As someone who has always avoided expense tracking applications lest he didn't keep up with entering every single expenditure, I would like an expense tracker that can automatically track my bank accounts and credit cards. Toshl doesn't do this, but then again it's difficult to find a service that does. (Check out Mint.com and Money Dashboard though.)
Despite its limitations, Toshl has, for me, achieved something quite remarkable – it has encouraged me to start logging all of my personal expenses. Before you ask, yes, I do bookkeeping for my business accounts and I would consider Toshl for that too.
Reviewed by David Gilson at