The problem not very known to tourists but so familiar to long-term travellers. How to manage money so it lasts as long as possible? No, I am not talking about the chosen ones who have rich parents or won the lottery and have unlimited amount of cash. I am talking about ordinary people like me who left their job with some savings. Let’s be honest. On the road you can live different types of life. You can party every night, buy illegal drugs, do as many extreme sports as you want but be prepared that you will be heading home very soon. You can also live like a monk, save shit load of money but what kind of life is that? You want some experience, right? Well, the best thing is to find a golden middle way. And to find it you need some tools.
Everybody has smart phone and everybody takes it everywhere. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsUp, photos, messages, maps and tons of other stuff. And one of them can be a small app called Trail Wallet. My amazing friend Joakim showed it to me while traveling in Cuba and I decided to give it a shot. The best thing about this app is that it was created by 2 long-term travellers Simon and Erin. And the best thing about that is that they know exactly what each traveller needs. The application is free but limited to 25 entries. If you want to upgrade to full version you have to pay 3,99€. Believe me, it’s worth every cent. And let’s not forget, it’s only for iOS.
The application interface is super clean and easy. It has 3 buttons at the bottom. The middle one is used to enter new expense, the left one is to see the pie chart with all statistics and the right one to see the history of all entries for current trip.
After you launch the app for the first time you need to create your trip. The trip consists of name, start/end date and currency/currencies. You can configure up to 5 currencies. This is very useful as some countries use multiple currencies (e. g. Cuba) or sometimes they accept dollars or euro. The app will automatically load the exchange rates so you don’t have to worry about tapping it manually. You can even configure daily or trip budget.
In order to be able to watch your expenses you need to categorise them very carefully. Besides the usual one like Accommodation, Food and Transportation I also use my own like Visa, Water and Stupid. You’re probably asking what’s the last one. I created this category after I had some stupid expenses, like that time when I paid $20 to random guy instead of taxi driver. Shit happens, be prepared for that.
This is the easiest thing ever. Click the big button in the middle of app (you can even configure app to automatically start with new expense screen), select the currency, category, date, enter the amount of money, description and click Save. If you’re entering more than one expense click the button Save & Add Another. All settings for date, currency and category will remain the same.
You can see and edit all entries on History tab (third button on main screen). Very intuitive.
This step is probably the most important one. Check the statistics on regular basis and watch your daily budget very carefully. You can see everything on first tab where the pie chart is. You maybe think that you can keep all your spendings in your head but believe me, you can’t !!!!! Yes, it’s just another beer, another ice cream or another weed. But at the end of the month it can be pretty bad (based on my own experience).
From time to time you have special expenses which are not related to just one trip. Like me when I bought the surf board. Yes, I bought it in Costa Rica but I will use it in Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and maybe other countries, too. Entry like this would make my Costa Rica statistics a little bit unreal and high. Therefore I created special trip called General Expenses where I track spendings like this and also all airplane tickets.
All fanatic Dropbox users (like me) say hurayyyy. Trail Wallet is so perfect that you can even configure backups to your Dropbox account. Super easily, of course.
So you have spent hours and hours entering new expenses and now you want to create your own graphs and analysis? Good news for you !!!! You can export all your valuable data as CSV file and send it via email to anyone you wish. In options window you can even choose whether to export all trip data or just the specific date range.
Now when everything’s ready you need to create a routine for entering all your expenses. It may sound weird but after couple of days/weeks you will do it automatically. It doesn’t matter where you are – in the shop, on the boat, in the airplane or jumping the highest bungee in Latin America. Who cares? Just start the app and check your budget.