Expense Tracking on the Road


So, I've been on the road now for just over two years. And like most of us travelers, I have a monthly / daily budget that I try to stick with. When I first started traveling I was writing down everything in a notepad and trying to put all my spending into a spreadsheet. But this was cumbersome and I got lazy.

Soon I was traveling without any idea of how much money I was spending, or how much left for each month. I realized that I needed a better system for keeping track of my money so I went searching for an application. What I found was a plethora of apps.

Most of the apps I tried have similar features. Setting a budget, adding expenses, a graph of some sort. All of the apps were free, but with a paid option to remove ads and add features. I didn't find a single application that was 100% free with all the features I wanted. In the end I ended up with an application call "Trabee Pocket". Here's why I like it, how to use it, and how it compared to other apps.

Interface: From all the applications, I liked the look and feel of this app the most. When you open the app, it takes you right to you trips. As travelers we live month to month, so a "Trip" is nothing more than a month. Adding a month is easy.

Basic Features:

One of the features of this app and all the other apps what the currency exchange. This may sound like a great feature, but it won't give you an accurate spending account because the app is using a real time currency exchange, not the rate you got when you pulled money from the ATM. It's actually better to do the calculation manually than to let the app do the math for you. This is one feature that this app has that the others do not.

As you can see in the photo above, I was able to add my expense and do the conversion manually at the same time. (25 Bolivianos divided by 6.8) This is a great feature. Every time I take cash from an ATM, I do the math on the exchange rate for that amount of cash I have for that period.

Another great feature is being able to see how much I've spent for the day, and how much I have for the remainder of the month.

and see where I am spending my money via the chart

All of the apps had this feature, but this app displayed it in a way that was easy to see and simple.

Customizing:

This is where all the apps come into the paid version. The "Customizing" in all these applications is the ability to add custom categories. As travelers we know that the basic categories of food, lodging, and shopping are not enough. We need categories like Parts and Maintenance, or Customs.

(Yes, Alcohol gets its own category)

Backing up and exporting:

Again, all the apps I tried had this feature. Surprisingly, this app doesn't have an auto-backup feature. You have to manually backup the data. This is something I think they will change in future versions. But what is nice, is that you can choose where to send or back up. The other apps only offer to backup to your cloud or SD card.

The export feature allows you to send you data in the form a spreadsheet or basic .csv format. I export my data to my google sheets and then create a chart for each month for my webpage.


The two budget system:

It's a good idea to keep track of two budgets. One for month to month spending, and the other for items that don't normally fit into a monthly budget of gas, food, lodging. Things like borders, shipping, emergencies and such. That money should also come from a separate account.

So there you have it. A simple way to keep track of your travel budget.

(P.S. I am not sponsored by Trabee Pocket, it's just an app I like)


Greg Hilchey
@terradrifting
Writer: ADVMoto Magazine
Traveler
Instructor: PSSOR.com

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