Toshl Finance (Android App Review)

Toshl2nd Review in the Series: Toshl Finance

According to the guidelines for my personal finance app review for my Android phone and/or tablet, I’m basically looking for how the app and I “get along.” I’m not looking to “interface” with an app. I don’t want to have to go through even a 5-minute tutorial but want instead something that’s very intuitive. That said, what’s intuitive to me may not be to someone else, and vice-versa.

I’ve previously reviewed Mvelopes. The second app I’ve been “interacting” with for a few weeks is called, Toshl.

Here’s my review based on my previously-established criteria:

  1. 1 out of 5Account Connectivity (x5): If the app can’t connect to my bank, credit union, lender or broker, there’s no point in the app taking up space on my mobile devices.
    Connecting automatically to financial institutions is not a promise Toshl makes. Even though I’m not disappointed (not over-promised – unfulfilled), I still need to give them a 1 out of 5, given that this is one of the more important criteria in my reviews.
  2. 5 out of 5Stability (x5): Equally frustrating is an app that crashes regularly or predictably. If the app closes unexpectedly at some point during my mobile experience, it will receive a 2. If it crashes my phone or tablet, it’s a zero.
    Perhaps due to its simplicity or perhaps due to good software engineering, I didn’t experience any crashes on my devices. 5 out of 5!
  3. 4 out of 5Mobility (x5): This is, after all, a review of mobile apps, right? If the app is not fully mobile (i.e. it requires desktop activity to add account, adjust budgets, identify expenses, etc.), it’s going to get less than a 5 on my scale.
    Toshl is mobile, being available on just about any device you can think of. Fortunately, entering expenses (which can only be done by hand) is done on a screen with large buttons and numbers. Add a bar code scanner option and it would receive a 5. 4 out of 5.
  4. 1 out of 5Multiplicity of Accounts (x4): If the app only connects with my bank or credit union checking and/or savings accounts, it will get a 2 or 3. I want an app that connects to my mortgage account as well as my small credit union checking account; that connects to my IRA account as easily as my bank’s saving account.
    There are no accounts in Toshl, just the tracking of purchases compared to a general budget figure.
  5. 4 out of 5Budgeting Tool (x4): As a budget and credit counselor, I can’t NOT require this in a mobile app I recommend. If the app doesn’t easily help me create a forecast of my income and expenses, it’s going to get a 3 or less. If the app requires that I input the budget, it’s going to definitely get a 2 if not a 1. I can enter expenses and income in a spreadsheet, but I want the app to do this for me.
    The budgeting tool is clear and straightforward. You enter the budgeted amount and can compare it to your current expenses. The visuals are large and intuitive: Big green bar indicates the budgeted amount and the Red bar indicates the amount spent so far of the budget. Automate it or add the option to estimate from previous months and I would have given it a 5. 4 out of 5.
  6. 4 out of 5Security (x4): I’m not going to rate the level of technology (that’s beyond my expertise), I do want to rate the security’s intrusiveness and my level of comfort with it. If I have to enter a 15-digit pass code into my smart phone every time I want to use the app, well, let’s just say I’m not going to use the app. On the other extreme, if there’s not at least a four-number pass code to punch in, I’m going to be uncomfortable having my financial information on my mobile devices.
    With no access to bank accounts, security is unnecessary. Consequently, there are no passwords to enter in order to access your information. Still, most people would consider their budget to be pretty private, so I’d like to see a simple patter swipe to access the program. 4 out of 5.
  7. 4 out of 5Intuitiveness (x3): This is a mobile device, for goodness sake. If the app requires either a Ph.D. in computer programming or that I refer even ONCE to its help page or online manual, it’s getting a 1 or less at best from me.
    The interface is simple enough: Enter expenses, enter income, choose one-time or repeat. The “Planned” budget might give some only a momentary pause, and the menu items are clear and easily accessible, but navigation could use screen titles or descriptions at the top to clarify where you’re at. 4 out of 5.
  8. 2 out of 5Expense Tracking (x3): Not to be confused with the budgeting tool, an expense tracking feature should tell me where I’m spending my money and how much I’m spending in general categories. To receive a 5, the app would have to determine automatically from my connected accounts how much I’m spending at restaurants and fast food joints, on entertainment and recreation, on utilities, on loans and credit, etc. If I have to enter the transactions myself and, gasp! categorize them myself as well, the app is getting a 1 or 0 in this category.
    Like the previously-reviewed program, this is a manual entry program. Given that it makes no claim to be automated, I’m cutting it a bit of slack. Still, entering every expense by hand doesn’t win too many brownie points from me. 2 out of 5
  9. 3 out of 5Extra (x1):  At this time, anything beyond the above criteria is a bonus. And while I love bonuses, they are not the main course. If it comes with a free credit score, a breakdown of my investment portfolio, or an analysis of my daughter’s driving habits, that’s great, but not necessary. Still, I’ll give a few bonus points for any nice add-ons the app might have.
    I admit that it’s nice to see a budget that carries “left over” money into the next month. Nice touch!
    Oh, and I’m giving Toshl an extra point for having the coolest icon/mascot on the web! 3 out of 5

General Comments:

I like Toshl for what it tries to be: a mobile expense tracking program that also allows you to compare your expenses to your budget.

That said, I will be removing it from my devices. I’m not one to take time after each purchase to enter information from a receipt into my phone. Still, I recommend this app for those in the position of trying to get a handle on their spending and who are motivated enough to spend that extra 30 seconds after each purchase to add the details into their mobile device. Wow! That makes me sound like a REAL sluggard!

Have a great weekend!

Todd

Author of Everyday Money for Everyday People, Todd ChristensenTodd Christensen
Everyday Money for Everyday People
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