Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday + {Organizing Your Finances For Your Trip}

Do not do what I did. The moment you buy anything for your trip, write it down. And write it down in the same location. Make a giant chart on the way if it's more convenient. Use an app on your phone. Write it in a word document or an email to yourself. Whatever it takes so it's all in the same spot.

Trust me: you'll thank yourself later when you don't have to dig through hundreds of emails trying to find your one Ryanair itinerary.

Granted, with so many things online these days, a copy of practically everything is sent to your inbox. And you can keep track of your card transactions online, if you sign up for online banking.

But still, it's a pain. Especially when you are buying a lot of things and some of the transactions have nondescript names that do not give you a single clue about what it is for.

Which leads to the inevitable go-fish game through your inbox, facebook messages, text messages, and recall of verbal face-to-face or phone conversations to figure out what exactly that $233.13 purchase bought and who paid for it. Not to mention the pain that comes with trying to figure out currency exchanges on top of tracking down receipts.

Speaking of paying for things: among decisions that you could (and probably should) file under "not the smartest move this bear has ever made," Gooligan and I started to buy things for our trip without taking a look at our bank account to figure out how, exactly, it would make the most sense to organize our accounts.

Currently, Gooligan and I are sharing my bank account. And one debit card.  (That was exciting, let me tell you, when I had to travel to my last residency with a cash-only budget because Gooligan needed to deposit her paycheck into my account while I was away in order to feed herself, pay rent, etc.)

It started with the intention of being a temporary arrangement, but visiting the bank and setting up a new account has been a pain, considering our bank's closest branch is in a town thirty miles away and one or both of us works typical bank hours.

Anyway, it has actually been a really great experience sharing finances with Gooligan. I think it has deepened the trust in our relationship, for starters, not to mention make things easier when it comes time to pay bills.

There has only been one drawback: our credit union caps the number of times you can make withdrawals from your savings account without getting dinged. Gooligan and I each have a savings account. If we had split each bill evenly and paid each other back immediately, we'd drown in $20 fees. Instead, we have taken turns paying for things in chunks, then periodically sorting out who owes who what and squaring our accounts.

Our approach has been a little haphazard, and I definitely do not recommend it for everyone. With another person, there would have been some feathers ruffled undoubtedly, but Gooligan and I have done a great job communicating and checking in and it's worked for us.

Just remember to print those receipts and collect them in a safe spot!


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