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10 Travel Expenses You Should Not Forget To Budget For

10 Travel Expenses You Should Not Forget To Budget For

When you are travelling this summer, sticker shock certainly sets in regardless of the mode of transportation. From gas prices currently in jeopardy of increasing to higher airline fees, you’ll feel the pinch some where. However, what doesn’t help out is that these upfront fees don’t take into consideration the hidden and unexpected costs that come with your trip, domestic or international. Today, we will take a look at 10 travel expenses that you should remember to take into account when planning your travel budget for the summer travel season. We will also factor in some ways you can save on these unexpected costs.

1. Departure Taxes

Departure fees are easy for many individuals to forget including in their travel budget. For many countries, these are fees that are included and unchangeable in your airport ticket. However, for other countries, for example Argentina and Costa Rica, in some cases you’ll have to pay the departure fees the airport. While small for a majority of countries, hovering around $20 – $50, other countries charge a lot more. To stay up-to-date on departure fees from the United States, checkout this website by the US Department of State. Simply search the country and click “Entry, Exit, & Visa Requirements”.

2. Card Fees and Currency Exchange

When traveling abroad, you are likely to encounter foreign transaction fees from your credit card company. You may even find that such a fee is even imposed on debit cards as well. Before you depart, it is always important for you to call your credit card company to allow them to be informed that you will be out of the country.

Credit and debit cards don’t have GPS chips and they are unable to know if you croissant purchase in Paris is your summer vacation or credit card theft. When you call, ask what the foreign transaction fees are.

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Secondly, even when paying cash, ensure that you have a handy currency exchange app on your phone to ensure that you are truly paying a good price for all goods purchased abroad. XE Currency is a great currency conversion app that is updated daily whenever you connect to the Internet.

3. Meals During Travel

Eating is an obvious aspect of your travel budget. However, one addition to your budget that you might not always consider is eating while arriving and departing from your destination. These are costs that add up, especially if you encounter delays or layovers. If you are a family of four, you’ll find that this is a fee you can’t simply hope will organize itself. In an airport, food costs are astronomical.

To alleviate this cost, bring food from home to nosh on during your arrival, and make a short trip to the grocery store in your location you are visiting before heading back home. If you encounter a significant delay, get in touch with your airline for a meal voucher, they are almost always offered when asked in such situations. They want to keep your business, in the end.

4. Cellular Provider Fees

From keeping in contact with your family back home to sharing your vacation adventures on social media, voice and data costs are an aspect of your budget to consider when abroad this summer. Without intervention, your GSM (AT&T and T-Mobile) smartphone will simply connect to the local international provider in the area and you’ll find yourself charged huge fees.

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Before leaving, inform your cellular provider of your travel plans, ask for possible international plan discounts, and if such discounts aren’t available, look into getting an international pay-as-you-go phone while there. WIFI is a great alternative as well, making use of Skype for calling back home. Some Internet cafes and hotels charge to use their WIFI, but this fee is exceedingly cheaper than paying cellular fees.

5. Emergency Expenses

It can be easy to think that the most stressful part of your trip is the flight there and back. However, if you encounter an emergency, you’ll find that the flight was only a breeze. Being on vacation, you find yourself doing more strenuous activities that you don’t normally do every day (from hiking to scuba diving, etc).

This presents itself with unexpected risks of injury. If you find yourself with a major injury, your insurance could help out. However, other emergencies and injuries may require digging into your own pocket for associated fees (sprains, cuts, bruises, etc). Due to how this is an expense that not everyone encounters, look into setting aside your credit card for these expenses, instead of setting aside a specific amount of cash.

6. Visa Costs

Along with departure fees, you’ll possibly find yourself encountering visa fees that depend on the duration of your time in a certain country. Ensure that you have these fees set aside and paid for if you are having an extended trip. In addition, if you find that you have to go to a local embassy to handle these tasks, make sure you factor transportation costs for getting to and from there. A friend of mine currently visiting China had to make three embassy visits before receiving her visa. Sadly, we can’t put a price tag on the stress that task brings on!

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7. Travel Insurance

Regardless of if you are backpacking through Europe or becoming a beach bum this summer, travel insurance is a must for individuals going abroad. You’ll find that purchasing travel insurance through providers like World Nomads offers you not only medical protection, but also assistance for trip cancellations, assistance, interruptions, and delays. In most cases, travel insurance cost under $100 and can protect you with thousands of dollars in coverage.

8. Spontaneous Adventures

If this is your first time abroad, you’ll want to make sure that you have the time of your life. If you are in a country during a national holiday or celebration, you’ll find that activities and adventures appear out of no-where and can be once in a lifetime for you to celebrate in. Make sure to have a form of payment planned for these spontaneous adventures, either in cash with your budget or with your card. You’ll thank yourself in the end.

9. Flight and Baggage Fees

A common occurrence for travellers is that they encounter an amazing deal on a plane ticket, only to find that they are hit with baggage fees. Always ensure that you look at your airlines website before packing, not departure, to see the hidden baggage fees assessed by your airline. If you do this before packing, you can pack accordingly. Having a price tag attached to your overpacking will cause you to pack smartly, not impulsively.

Other flight fees that you might unexpectedly encounter are WIFI costs and food/beverage purchases. Contact your airline before departure to see if WIFI is available on-board and for how much. If it’s a short haul (< 2.5 hour flight), WIFI might not be a necessary cost.

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10. Lodging Fees

Finally, when travelling anywhere, fees associated with lodging can be unexpected for many travellers. Ensure that you have a clear outline of how much you have to pay for lodging. Internet fees, room service costs, open bar, and room service tips are costs that travelers find that they usually ignore when travelling. Make sure you include these possible costs in your budget to prevent sticker shock at the end of your vacation.

By including these fees in your travel budget, you’ll find that you are better prepared for any fees that come along the way. Not only can you combat them, you can save money along the way. Let us know in the comments below how you are saving money this travel season.

Featured photo credit: http://hawaiidads.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/family-travel-1.jpg via Hawaii Dads

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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