Im pretty good at budgeting. 5 years as a freelance, traveling roadie – where you can make $2000 in a week then nothing for 3 weeks – helped me become a budgeting badass. And it taught me a lot about budgeting for travel.
I learned that although there are tons of ways to cut back on spending, ‘put travel first’ and a whole slew of other ‘anti-spending’ tips – if you don’t know how you’re spending your money, you can’t learn to budget it. Until you learn how to budget and make certain money habits, cutting back on a daily coffee isn’t going to help.
Here are the 3 things you need to do if you want to start getting better with your money:
1. Get Charles Schwab! (or any other bank that has no international fees and refunds outside atm fees).
Schwab is awesome because they deal with clients who travel a lot, so I get real people when I call, they can replace cards within 2 days pretty much anywhere in the world, and if I need to do things like wire transfers, but I’m in a busy hostel and don’t want to say certain info out loud, they have security workarounds to fit your situation (and still make sure it’s you). They’ve even called me on my foreign phone when Skype woudn’t work – with no questions asked or fees charged! Their website is also easy to navigate, use, and pay bills from – something that is very important when traveling (and makes paying bills in general easier).
2. Get a budgeting app for your phone, one that helps you track cash spending in multiple currencies.
Expense IQ screenshots from the developers site.
Everyone raves about Trail Wallet, but it is unfortunately only for iPeople, of which I am not. I love, and use ExpenseIQ (for Android). It’s easy to navigate, the free version does everything you need, and you can track multiple currencies at the same time. Actually, I purchased the full version, for $10, yesterday. Not because I needed the features (although now I can record transfers between USD to COP accounts with one entry, and it auto-applies the current exchange rate), but I love the app and wanted to support the developers.
3. Pay your bills first.
Really. If you plan on paying your bills before buying or spending anything, you’ll suddenly have a bunch more money because you won’t have anymore late fees. If you get paid 2x a month, take out, and schedule payments online for your bills two weeks before they are due (ie: When you get paid on the 15th, schedule payments for the bills due on the 1rst of the next month.) It’s not hard to do this, you just have to commit to paying bills before buying beer. Once you get in the habit of it, you will be surprised how good it feels to not owe money and how much more money you have when you aren’t paying accumulating late fees each month.
With just the 3 things, you can keep more of your money, watch where and when you are spending money, and get in the habit of dealing with, and budgeting for important expenses. After you start seeing where you spend you money, you can start changing your spending habits, and saving money in some areas so you have more for other areas (including travel and savings).
You can’t start saving money until you know how you spend it: so budgeting apps, a good bank with awesome online and customer service, and a creating a habit of paying bills first will get you on the road to managing your finances on and off the road.
- Get a good bank without fees and good online services.
- Have Android? Get ExpenseIQ. Have iPhone? Get TrailWallet
- Pay yo’ damn bills!
About Dani Blanchette
I am a freelance travel and music photographer and creator of GoingNomadic.com.
I love music, food, and exploring cities without guidebooks. I’ve flown a helicopter, hitchhiked down the east coast USA, and once snuck into the back of a zoo (in Serbia) and pet a lion.
I am always up for an adventure, and sometimes I videotape them.