Kristin Walsh
April, 2013
 

Identifying and tracking your daily travel budget may not be important to everyone. If you are a minimalist and spending next to nothing is your plan, then this article may not be for you. Likewise, if you have plenty of money, then tracking daily spending may not be of much interest to you either. However, if you’re like us and have a finite budget that includes some headroom to splurge occasionally, then you might find it helpful to know on any given day how much money you have spent compared to what you expected to have spent up to that day.

We always knew we’d track our daily expenses in attempt to keep to our planned budget, but Doug really wanted to have a running scorecard that showed +/- how we were doing compared to that budget. His reasoning was so we would instantly know whether we needed to tighten our belts a bit or, if we were doing well, could afford a splurge. This resulted in a four page Excel workbook: the first page contains the desired budget snapshot with the following three containing the data that populates it.

Click this image to download a free copy of our Budget Tracker spreadsheet (MS Excel).
Click this image to download a free copy of our Budget Tracker spreadsheet (MS Excel).

 Snapshot

This page contains three tables that each show a different aspect of our overall trip spending and earning, albeit to a much smaller extent. The majority of cells on this page contain formulas that pull data from the following three pages and should not be edited, with the exception of two cells (highlighted in yellow on the example file). In the first table, the “Initial Account Balance” cell should be updated with your budget for daily expenses. For example,  $60,000. In the third table, the “Initial Account Balance” cell should be updated with your budget for major expenses. We set aside an additional 50% of our daily expenses budget given the high price of vaccines, visas, and cargo ship travel.

  • The first table provides that quick look at how well we are sticking to our overall daily budget based on $60 per day and the number of days we have been out on the road. The key cell in this table is the “Over / Under Budget” cell. If this is a black number without parentheses, then we know that we are under budget and may be able to splurge a little; however, if it is a red number with parentheses, then we know we are already exceeding our budget and should cut back a little. In our example below, we see that for the first two days that we are over budget by $54 and should reduce spending for a few days until that number comes closer to zero. The “Total Remaining” cell includes deposits made during the trip. The “Travel Days Remaining” is just a rough estimate based on the amount of money available and the daily allowance.
  • The second table shows a more detailed view of the total and daily average spent in each area of our daily life. This data is useful in identifying trends. In our example below, we see our total and daily expenses by category for two days. We can see some details of why we are over budget, including that we entered a new area and needed to purchase a guide book for $21 and that we needed a $30 repair and some new gear. These are not daily purchases like food and lodging, so we are not necessarily getting into bad habits, just needing some infrequent items that boost our daily average. Nothing to be significantly worried about and maybe a night or two of wild camping or Warm Showers might bring that average down a little.
  • The third table provides a quick look at how much we are spending on large expenses outside our daily budget: transportation, visas, major bike repairs, or medical expenses as well as any donations or income we have received. We have put aside an additional amount of money beyond our $60 per day for major expenses. We think it will be enough; however, unexpected events happen and we want to have a place to track those costs should it require more money than anticipated. In our example below, we see that we have spent $465 leaving $29,535 of our original $30,000.

Daily Expenses

This page is for entering your daily expenses, the data used to populate the first two tables of the Snapshot. The first thing to do on this sheet is to enter your personal “Daily Allowance” amount (highlighted in yellow on the example file). This will affect all of your average calculations.

Each row, except the last two, represents a day on the road and the columns are used as follows.

  • We felt the “location” column would be useful in explaining very expensive or very inexpensive days. For example, we expect it to be difficult to stick to $60 per day in the UK; however, we think there will be many days in rural China where we would be surprised if spent a fraction of that $60 per day budget.
  • We included “food”, “lodging”, “entertainment”, and “incidentals” with a few subcategories for each so we could see the details of what we spent in each category.
  • The “totals” columns contain formulas that calculate the total amount spent that day as well as how it compares to the expected $60. Yes, we could do the math for the last column, but the real purpose for this column is data for the last two rows of this table.
  • The “comments” column is optional and provides a spot to explain any really high or low numbers or unexpected small expenses that you want to note.

The last two rows contain the formulas that sum and average the daily money spent in each subcategory. This contains all of the data that appears in the second table of the Snapshot. In the example above, you’ll note that these numbers match.

Major Expenses

This page is for entering your major expenses, the data used to populate the third table of the Snapshot.

Each row, except the last one, represents a day on the road in which you have such an expense and the columns are used as follows.

  • We included “transportation”, “visas”, “medical”, and “gear” as we think these will include the majority of costs that we may incur and this allows us to see the details of each category.
  • The “comments” column is optional and provides a spot to explain any details.

The last row contains the formulas that sum the total money spent in all major expense categories combined. The last cell in this row contains the formula for the number found in the “total spent” cell of the Snapshot. In the example above, you’ll note that these numbers match at $465.

Deposits

This page is for entering any deposits, the data used to finish populating the third table of the Snapshot.

Each row, except the last one, represents a day on the road in which you have a deposit and the columns are used as follows.

  • We included “donation” and “income” as we think these will include the ways in which we may acquire money on the road. While we are not currently planning to work, things may change and we wanted to be prepared.
  • The “comments” column is optional and provides a spot to explain any details.

The last row contains the formulas that sum the total money received in both categories combined. The last cell in this row contains the formula for the number that gets added to the “Total Remaining” cell in the first table on the Snapshot page.

To Sum It All Up

Do you need this much detail to track expenses on your trip? Only you can answer that, but if the answer is yes, we hope you find this useful for your trip or as a jumping point for your own budget tracker.

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