this week is alternately subtitled: how to annoy the everything out of your friendly bank teller.
ask me how i know.
i am a little fanatical about how i carry my money when i go on trips.
when i went to hope spoken (as part of a longer trip to texas), i budgeted a minimum of $750 and ideally $1000 for spending expenses while i was gone. the way i planned to break it down was $250 in cash, $250 in checking for texas spending, and $250 available on my credit card (of a whole $300 limit… i’m a high roller, obvs).
as it broke down, i actually managed to pull together the $1000 thanks to my tax refund and with some extra money from my paycheck zeroed out my credit card. so i left with an extra $250 in my vacation savings in case of emergency and with the full $300 limit available on my credit card.
and that’s about as far as i budgeted for hope spoken. for real. there was no fancy spreadsheet and no categorical breakdown.
(that’s why this series is about how to pay for influence ;] )
i always split my vacation money among my three methods of payment: cash, debit, and credit. i rarely figure out in advance what purchases go with what piece of plastic but i always know what categories go with cash and i never spend my cash on anything else.
so let’s talk about my money breakdown for influence. remember that i’m saving $750 but only budgeting to spend $625. for why those numbers don’t include the cost of a ticket and how i got those numbers, read previous posts in the series.
per last week’s budget breakdown, $100 of this is for gas and $100 is for food. i always pay for gas in cash because in the metro detroit area we pay 10-15¢ more per gallon to pay with a debit or credit card. i am the type of person who will drive a few miles out of my way if i can find cheaper gas, so you better believe i’m not paying with plastic at the pump. i also always take my food budget in cash because then i’m not doing mathematical gymnastics to figure out what kind of tip will give me an even dollar amount while still staying in the 18-20% range.
checking (debit card): $225
all i really know for sure is i want parking expenses to go through here. other than that, these funds are available in case i need extra cash for any reason. and actually in case parking has to be paid in cash, then i can take cash out of the ATM to pay and it will still come out of the same account.
i never actually use my debit card with the PIN; credit’s easier and safer. for those of you who have debit cards with Visa and run your cards credit, any fraudulent purchases should be reimbursed because of Visa’s no liability policy. if you have Visa and run your cards debit, you’re at the mercy of your financial institution and their policies. regardless of what you have or how you run it, you should know how any fraudulent purchases will be handled. this is particularly true if you’re traveling, because you’re not in a great position to deal with any fraud that occurs while you’re gone until you return. you should also let your financial institution know you’ll be traveling so they don’t automatically assume an out-of-state transaction is fraud and shut off your card.
credit card: $200
$200 of the limit on my credit card (which is no longer $300) will be budgeted for influence spending and paid off when i return. i will probably pay for my hotel and the sashes market with this card.
influence savings: $125
i am not touching this unless absolutely necessary. let us be clear that as of right now, the sashes market is not absolutely necessary. i can’t promise you how i’ll feel about that on september 25. ;]
and now we begin the part where 1. you annoy your friendly bank teller but before that 2. you think i’m crazy.
because not only is breaking down how you’ll cover your expenses is important, but it’s also nice to ensure you have an easy way of covering them when you’re carrying cash, especially when you know you’ll be eating out frequently.
when i went to texas, i took $280 in cash and broke it down by denomination to the penny. you read that right. to the penny.
here’s (roughly) how that $280 broke down:
$200 in twenties
$50 in tens
$20 in fives
$5 in singles
$3 in quarters
$1.50 in dimes
$.35 in nickels
$.15 in pennies
^i say roughly because it’s been two months and i don’t remember exactly how i broke the money down. i do know i only wanted a few singles and pennies, so there and the dimes are where my numbers would be wrong.
the reason i believe you should break your cash down to the penny is mostly because exact change and also because simplicity.
if you don’t already pay in exact change, i promise you your friendly cashier will appreciate you taking .008 extra seconds to fish out two dimes and three pennies so they can give you $4 instead of $3.77. i worked retail for a year and a half and my favorite customers were the ones who gave exact change.
here’s the other thing, and my main concern when i withdrew this cash: simplicity. i hate paying $4.17 at mcdonald’s with a $20 bill. it’s unnecessary. i would prefer to break a $5. i would far prefer to pull out four singles, a dime, a nickel, and two pennies.
and your friendly cashier would rather you did that, too.
it’s easier – i think – to salvage every penny of your budget when you make every penny work for you. so instead of constantly breaking twenties on your trip, break one only when something costs over $15 and use smaller bills to pay for everything else.
you end up with more money than you think you will when you do this.
ask me how i know.
got any questions about planning your trip to influence?leave me a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!