Financial Freedom is a journey, and usually a long one! It can be tough to find that balance between staying motivated enough to stay the course without becoming so obsessed that you stop enjoying your life right now.
With the Topia App (referral link), we now have a (new and improved) tool that helps us track our progress to Financial Freedom in an automated way, but also get there more quickly – and it’s free! Here’s how it works…
Table of Contents
Topia’s Main Features
Projecting your timeline to Financial Independence (FI)
There are already lots of ways to track your net worth, whether that’s a homemade spreadsheet that you update with your figures manually, an app tracking your account balances, or even a paper wall chart.
Topia also shows you your net worth, which you can update manually or through Open Banking connections. However, one of the key unique selling points for this app is that it also predicts the date that you are going to reach FI.
The Ability to Tinker
Topia will show you where you are headed, but you can also play around with different scenarios to see how this affects your timeline. For example, you can see the impact of creating a new side hustle income, getting a rental property or increasing your pension contribution.
This is so handy when you are in the “boring bit in the middle” as you can make data-based decisions about what you can do to speed up your journey.
For example, at my company every year we are asked whether we want to sacrifice our bonus into our pensions or take the post-tax amount with our monthly salary. Using Topia’s Tinker features I was able to compare the impact on my timeline if I invested the pre-tax amount into my pension or withdrew the post-tax amount and put that into an Investment ISA.
Catering for different FI approaches: Barista FI and Coast FI
The latest version of Topia lets you create plans whether you are on a traditional FI route, or interested in “slower” approaches like Barista or Coast FI.
In case you aren’t familiar, Barista FI appeals to people who still want to work post FI and is popular in the US as you can still benefit from healthcare insurance post FI. Through the Topia App you can factor in any monthly income at FI, meaning your FI number is smaller.
Coast FI is the point at which you can stop contributing towards your investments, knowing that you will still reach full FI at a later date. This means that once you reach your Coast FI number you can “take the foot off the pedal” by cutting down on your working hours or taking longer breaks from work, as your existing investments will reach the full FI number themselves over time.
In the app you can set the age that you want to reach full FI and it will calculate when you will be at Coast FI. I think this is a great option for people trying to understand when and whether they can scale down their hours to spend more time with their kids (or whatever else is important to them) and still be able to enjoy an early retirement.
Access to a FI community
Since Topia started, by registering on the app you can also access a community of other people on the same path. One of the things I liked about it was that there were different sub-groups for people at different levels of the journey, so you could engage in discussions that were more relevant to your stage.
As it’s still a relatively new app, the forums are quieter than something like the Reddit FIRE groups, but there’s lots of potential for this to grow and as they say, you get out what you put in.
Very soon the app will offer Topia Plus which will cost $79 a month and include weekly group coaching and access to exclusive content created by Grant Sabatier. This is completely optional, but could be valuable for someone needing input and accountability to make better progress. I’m hoping to trial this when it launches and will report back.
What could be even better?
I am genuinely impressed with this app, particularly with the newer Tinker features which have already had useful real-life applications for me.
I’m conscious that one app can’t meet everyone’s needs, and that this already caters to a lot of scenarios. One limitation for my circumstances is that the FI date is based on the assumption that all of your net worth will be accessible at the same time. However, this won’t be the case if part of your net worth is in a workplace pension and you hit your FI number before that date.
For that reason, even though I like this app for the automated tracking functions and the ability to model different scenarios, I still need to track my two main metrics outside the app: “accessible” net worth (i.e. BTL equity, ISAs) and the percentage of my mortgage that is paid off. You can take property equity out of your net worth, so maybe a similar function would be useful for assets that are locked until a certain age…
Also, there are the odd quirks and bugs that you’ll get with any app, but they seem to get resolved quickly as new updates come out.
And finally, if you do connect accounts then obviously you are signing up to the same conditions (and privacy implications) that you are with other Open Banking processes, but I’m assuming most people are comfortable with this as they are used by so many other finance apps. If you are concerned, you can opt to update all of your balances manually, but this would obviously take more time.
Final thoughts on Topia App
With version 2.0, Topia has introduced some really nifty functions to help us design or speed up the path to FI, so if you’re familiar with the first version but have drifted, it’s definitely worth giving it another go.
As well as the mobile app – which the screenshots in this post are from – Topia has also launched a web app which has very similar functionality. I personally find the new web app easier to use. This is partly because you can fit more information on the screen but also the functionality for editing your portfolio is a bit more sophisticated as you can edit the balance for a linked account if it hasn’t tracked through correctly.
Although it caters to the Financial Independence community, it can be just as useful for people who aren’t aiming for FI, but focussing on getting out of debt.
This post isn’t sponsored by Topia, but if you sign up to the web app using this link and connect one bank account, I receive a small referral bonus. As part of putting this post together, I had a phone call with co-Founder Logan to ask a few questions about some things I wasn’t sure about, and he was quick to follow up, so I’m sure anyone using the app would also have a great level of customer service. He says he loves feedback, and has run campaigns before to gather it from users (reimbursing them for their time) so it really does feel like a crowdsourced project run by people who are passionate about making it as valuable as it can be.
I’d love to hear your take on Topia. Let me know if you use it and what you think in the comments below…