My financial goals for March actually went pretty well, all things considered. I came under budget in four out of seven categories — which is a far cry better than last month, when I was over budget in five out of seven categories. No joke.
The problem? I still came out $281.65 over budget. Ouch. This is almost entirely due to the loss and subsequent replacement of my iPhone, which was about $200.00. Taken in perspective, that means I was only over budget $81.65, which is cutting my over-spending inhalffrom the previous month. Now that, I believe, is actually an accomplishment.
The categories in which I am still over-spending? “Other Food,” which relates to restaurants and snacks, and “Misc,” which refers to everything from movies to birthday presents.
To help keep track of my expenses this month, I started using an app called Toshl. I have to say that I am very, very excited about this app. I am not a big fan of Mint, which everyone seems to love — I find it clunky, and I think it is very hard to manipulate. In contrast, Toshl is very user-friendly and customizable. It runs very, very smoothly on my phone, and it makes categorizing expenses very easy.
The pros of Toshl:
- Easy, clean, and attractive interface; also a very lightweight app.All in all,
- Customizable categories and budgets are very easy to maintain.
- Allows multiple different views of how your expenses break down, including by day, by category, and by time frame.
- Easily accessible at all times, including online.
- It doesn’t try to notify me. Ever. I love that.
- You enter all your expenses yourself; if you forget one or miss one, it’s on you.*
- To have access to all the features, membership is about $20 a year.
- It does not have access to your bank account information.**
All in all, I highly recommend this app if you’re looking for a clean, lightweight program to help track your expenses. I think it is ten times easier to use than Mint, and it’s helped me keep track of my expenses better in a single month than Mint was able to do for two years. If I go another month using it as much as I do, I will probably purchase the full app, as it allows you to create multiple budgets and then connect expenses to specific budgets so that you’re more able to keep track of where the money is going.
*I have to say that I actually like to enter all my expenses myself. I am a bit of a control freak, and I was always frustrated with the categorizing of Mint, which was somehow frequently wrong — for example, it liked to categorize the coffee shop at the library as a “Home Improvement” expense. True story. I can note a single expense as belonging to multiple categories — so if I want to remember what I purchased my dad for his birthday, I can just add a tag for that.
**I have to say that I also like this — I always found it creepy that Mint has such unlimited access to my financial information. Yes, it means I have more to keep track of — but it also forces me to pay attention, which I believe encourages more financial responsibility. I just recognize that it is a feature which Mint has but Toshl does not.