Travel is expensive. You might think you’re traveling cheap until you get home and start counting the bills. The best way to keep your expenses under control is to track them. Tracking expenses properly isn’t difficult. You don’t need special software. You don’t even need to hire an accountant.
Here are five tips for tracking your travel expenses.
Write Everything Down
Little things start to add up.
Don’t forget to write down that cup of coffee.
Hold onto receipts until you’ve written everything.
This includes everything from bus tickets to chewing gum from the gas station. At the time, these purchases might seem small. Over time, they accumulate.
Create a table to organize your expenses.
Divide expenses into categories. This helps you evaluate what you need.
You probably don’t need that many cups of coffee. Or maybe you could switch to a beverage that’s slightly cheaper. Cutting small costs makes a huge difference.
Make sure you’ve written everything down by the end of each day.
It’s best to record expenses immediately.
You might think you’ll remember exactly how much that soda cost. The chances are high that you’ll forget within the hour. It won’t take long to jot down the cost.
It will take more time, but it will save you money.
2. Knowing the Rules
Traveling for work is different from leisure.
It’s important to understand corporate travel expense policies.
They vary from company to company.
The tax legislation also varies from state to state. If your work takes you across state lines, you need to watch out. You don’t want to get in trouble with the IRS.
Getting in trouble at work isn’t good, either.
Check with your boss to see what is covered and what isn’t.
Know the rules before you head out.
Ask what you are and aren’t allowed to buy. See if there is any wiggle room.
Almost everything should be covered during corporate travel.
Meals, accommodation, and travel should be covered. If you aren’t being reimbursed for these things, talk with your boss. You should re-work the policy.
Drinks at the bar and other unnecessary expenses usually aren’t included. Entertainment, museum trips, and other cultural activities will probably be at your own cost.
If you find the budget isn’t enough, contact your boss during the trip.
They should be flexible and understanding.
Even accountants make mistakes.
It’s wise to double-check your expense list.
You might have forgotten to write something down. Or maybe you miscalculated. It happens all the time.
Don’t wait until the end of your trip to double-check everything.
Look things over once a day and do the math again.
Use a calculator even if you’re confident with your math skills.
It’s better to take the time to be right as opposed to wasting money.
If you think something is off, ask someone to check the math.
Your company will double-check the expenses for you, but it’s nice to save your colleagues some work.
If something about your bill seems off, ask why.
4. Going Analog
Technology has many benefits.
It also has a lot of drawbacks. You never know when your phone might run out of battery. Or your computer may completely crash.
That’s why it’s good to keep a paper record of everything.
Using a good planner or account book could save you lots of money.
Find a system that works for you.
Writing things out gives you time to reflect on what you’re spending.
Keeping an analog and digital record is best.
That way you always have a backup.
It’s ok to splurge every once in a while.
You deserve to treat yourself while traveling.
The cost of living at your destination might be different than you expected.
It’s important to take the time to see where you’re at.
Don’t pinch so many pennies that you’ll miss out on a big opportunity. See if you can cut something else out so you can do what you really want.
Travel is meant to be enjoyed.
Buckle down once you get back home to make up for the loss.
Travel doesn’t need to be just for the rich. If you keep track of your expenses, you can travel cheaply.
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