Budgeting Away From Home

Here I sit… in my hotel room… across the country… contemplating whether or not I will benefit or struggle with finances while I am away for work.

I am not sure how other companies handle traveling expenses with their employees but I would assume some of it, if not all of it, is paid for? The military has a few stipulations. If lodging isn’t available on a base we have to find a hotel within a certain price rBudgetsbaclange. We also get a per diem rate; every location has a different rate based on whats believed to be realistic to live off of in the area. Plane tickets, rental cars, etc is all paid for.

The area I am staying in allows a $41 per diem (per day) rate . On travel days (the day I am flying or driving to the new location or back home) that rate is prorated so it’s even smaller. Lets be realistic here, airport food is expensive and when you are going to be traveling over two meal periods, things add up quick. If I am hungry, I want to eat, so I knew my best option would be to bring my own food so I don’t waste money on airport food. I actually wasn’t even sure if food was allowed past airport security. I asked a handful of people and they all pretty much thought you couldn’t take anything unless it was prepackaged. This led to a phone call to the airport I was flying out and sure enough all food is allowed! Just not liquids of course. Why the heck haven’t I been packing food every time I fly?!

  1.  It is way cheaper
  2.  It allows for maintaining healthier eating habits

I spent 8 dollars for two meals plus some snacks. I saw a new “lunchable” per se that was grilled chicken pieces and a dipping sauce and figured I could make that myself! I cooked up a chicken breast in some olive oil and seasoning and made a Sriracha aioli and it was absolutely amazing. I was scared about eating cold chicken but it was actually really good.

So, now that I am living in a hotel for a week with a small fridge and microwave do I eat out every meal? If I ate out every meal, I could easily go over that $41 a day. I decided to buy a few groceries so I can at least eat breakfast and lunch in my room. Unfortunately, I wanted cheap food and there are not many “healthy” things you can make in a microwave. If anyone has suggestions, I definitely would love to hear them! Anyway, I figured some people in my training class may want to go out for dinner and I don’t want to just sit in my room the whole time so I figure I can at least eat out one meal.

I look at it this way–I could lose money on this trip, I could make money, or I could break even. Well since we are really trying to pay off debt I definitely want to try and make money. Therefore, my goal is to stay below that $41 per day. I bought $35 worth of groceries which I haven’t decided if I want to subtract that from our grocery budget or subtract it from the per diem rate. Realistically I can just subtract it from grocery budget since I am not home spending money on groceries anyway. Speaking of, that’s another reason I can make money on this trip; I don’t have to use any of my allotted money this week since I am pretty much being paid to be gone. Don’t get me wrong, it is very easy to go over that per diem rate, especially when you are with a group of people. When you are in a new place you want to explore and go out with the people you are with. Luckily this trip I am by myself so I won’t be doing much exploring.

I will let you know at the end of the week if I have succeeded in making money, or if my classmates were really cool and talked me into joining them for a few beverages or some site seeing adventures.

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