The following is a guest post from Tim Chen, who is the founder and CEO of NerdWallet
Being away from the home office causes at first subtle – and later pronounced – ripples in the day-to-day record-keeping efficiency of most travelers.
Managing paperwork, invoicing, bill payments and more while sprinting for flight connections and taxi cabs might make for a huge hassle, but at the end of the day, the details still need to be attended to.
Finances on the fly present challenges for even the most seasoned of veteran travelers. Here are some tips for keeping chaos at bay while managing your money on the road.
Receipt Scanning: No matter how hard we try, there’s still a fair amount of paperwork to deal with when traveling. Business travel and big family moves bring even more chaos to the bookkeeping table. It always helps to focus purchases on a dedicated personal or small business credit card to reduce the amount of paperwork.
And for a technology solution to help tame the paperwork monster, try Neat Receipts (or Neat Receipts for Mac), a mobile scanning device with software that automatically extracts and organizes key data into a format you can use for your financial reports and reimbursement forms later on.
It even scans business card data for those events where you’d otherwise have to lug home a small box full of new contact information.
Cloud Storage: If the only two places where you have access to financial and other critical data are your computer’s hard drive and your files back home, a computer crash on the road could mean serious stress if you have a billing issue to solve.
Jungle Disk offers digital storage with automated daily backups of your hard drive. You can also access your information securely from the hotel’s business center if traveling with a laptop isn’t possible. If you need to keep files in sync across multiple computers, you can also try Dropbox for free.
Keeping web-based digital copies of account statements can save big bucks in additional fees, if travel would otherwise prevent you solving a simple billing dispute in your own favor.
Credit Card Strategies: There are numerous ways you can use your credit card to help handle your finances from the road. Online and automated bill payments are a huge help. Just be sure the payment access is under your control and not at the discretion of the company you are paying.
While most businesses are above board, situations can arise where you’ve repeatedly scheduled account cancellation but still wind up being dinged by an outside creditor you don’t technically owe money to. Trust me, this isn’t a fun one to solve.
Credit cards can also save you time and money by providing an extra layer of protection against problematic purchases. American Express credit cards, for example, offer both purchase and return protection.
This means that if you need to return a purchase for some reason, and you’ve already exceeded the 14-30 day return policies that most merchants offer, Amex will allow you to return some items to them within 90 days of purchase.
This could be a huge help if you’re going to be on the road for a few weeks and just found out those new pants don’t fit like you thought they would. Purchase protection is also a big help if something you just bought is broken, or even stolen.
Amex will refund, replace, or repair certain items within 90 days, which is a benefit few merchants will allow.
The All-Important Concierge: A feature that many cards offer but few consumers take advantage of, is access to a 24-hour concierge.
Visa Signature cards, for example, offer this service for free to all cardholders, and Tim Ferriss has a great article over at his blog detailing a wide (and random) variety of services that these concierges can handle for you, leaving you time to deal with more pressing, or profitable, matters.
In fact, the author of the post had a hard time finding services that these concierges couldn’t perform, so it’s definitely worth a shot if you find yourself pressed for time.
Whether you’re handling your finances from the high seas, taking a two-year assignment with the Peace Corps or simply taking a simple, short-term trip for business or pleasure, managing your finances efficiently is essential. These tips will help keep money management woes to a minimum.
Tim Chen is founder and CEO of NerdWallet.com, a website that helps consumers to find travel credit cards. Tim also educates consumers about credit cards and debt management at the Forbes Moneybuilder Blog, the Huffington Post, and the Christian Science Monitor.
My Comments: Have you used any of these services or similar ones for handling your finances? How has your experience been? Do you have additional tips and suggestions on how one can relatively automate finances while on the road, or otherwise?Previous: Getting the Google Slap: Banned from Google Adsense – How to Diversify and Reduce Your Risk
Hey Tim, Thanks for the informative tips. I just watched the video on Dropbox and this sounds like it could easily make my life more simple.
This was a great post! I completely agree with all of your advice.