Managing your finances is a vital part of any business trip you take, on both a personal and professional level.
You’re on company time, so you need to ensure every dime you spend is justifiable. But you’re also often out on your own and this means you run the risk of paying for things with your own money before requesting reimbursement from your employer.
We’ve highlighted four things you can do to ensure you can manage your finances effectively, from traveling to your business trips to submitting your expense claims when you’re back in the office.
Use a fuel card to pay for your diesel or gas
A fuel card is a credit card that you can use to pay for the petrol or diesel you buy when you take business trips, often giving you the chance to get discounts on these items. This means you’re able to cover the costs of traveling from one destination to another.
These are some of the key ways a fuel card can help you to manage your finances when taking business trips:
- You can cover your petrol or diesel costs without spending your own money
- Spending limits can be set on your card to ensure you don’t go over budget
- All your purchases are recorded in real-time to give visibility of your expenses
Fuel cards are only available to businesses, which means an employer or owner needs to issue them. There are many options available and they each have their own features. For example, an Esso fuel card can be used across Europe which makes it ideal for continental business trips.
You can direct your employer to a comparison site like iCompario to find the best fuel cards for your business trips. These sites allow company managers and owners to select the features they need and get a list of the cards that offer them. Get your employer to try a comparison site today to find out which fuel card is best for your company.
Record all of your expenses on a spreadsheet
When we recommend recording all of your expenses on a spreadsheet we mean exactly what you’d expect. It’s creating a spreadsheet that lists every single item you buy, so you can see exactly what you’re spending and ensure your business trips remain on budget.
Below, we highlight some of the main reasons that recording your expenses on a spreadsheet is such a great way to manage your finances during a business trip:
- You can plan out how much money you can spend each day of your trip
- You can immediately spot if there’s a risk of you exceeding your budget
- You can request additional funds from your company in advance of needing them
We recommend using Google Sheets to create your expenses spreadsheet. As a free, cloud-based tool, you’re able to update it via your smartphone, so you can make an entry at the time of purchase and ensure no payment is missed.
Use a company card to pay for your amenities
A company card is a credit card that’s specifically for business payments. This means you can buy the amenities (we’re using a broad definition here where amenities are everything from hotel costs to restaurant bills) you need while you’re on a business trip.
These are some of the most important benefits that you get from using a business travel credit card to cover your amenities during your business trips:
- You can set custom spending limits to ensure you don’t exceed your budget
- It’s a great cash flow management tactic because you can buy now pay later
- You can improve the credit rating of your company by using your card sensibly
Company cards are only available to businesses, which means they have to be issued to you by an employer or owner. There are lots of cards you can choose from, with some better suited to your needs than others. For instance, the American Express Business Gold Card gives you 70,000 bonus welcome points.
You can advise your employer to read comparison articles by respected sites like Forbes to find the best company cards for your business trips. Sites such as these highlight the best features of company cards and provide links for your employer to start their application quickly.
Keep all of the receipts for the items you buy
Keeping the receipts for the items you buy during your business trips isn’t rocket science. You simply ensure that every time you make a purchase you collect the paper receipt, so you have a record of the money you’ve spent and are able to justify the expense.
Underneath, we cover the major reasons that keeping your receipts is a perfect way of managing your finances during your business trips:
- You have an insurance policy in the event that a transaction is queried
- You have the peace of mind of being able to reclaim any expenses you covered
- You can pass the receipts to the bookkeepers to ensure all records are accurate
Retaining your receipts means you are not only able to account for expected purchases during business trips (like fuel costs or hotel fees) but you can also justify the occasional expenses you’ve had to add to your budget.
Receipt management is on you. So, make sure you always ask for a receipt when you make a purchase on one of your business trips. If you don’t then you might find that you have to cover the cost of it yourself, which isn’t a sound approach to managing your finances.
Fuel cards, an expenses spreadsheet, company cards and keeping your receipts are all great ways to manage your finances taking business trips.
Some of these tactics are on you, some are on your employer and others are on both of you.
So, speak to your boss and make sure you have everything you need from them before you set off on your next business trip.