Categorizing expenses while on vacation


#1

So, kind of a random question…

We don’t really “budget” per se (we basically do an anti-budget) but we do track all of our expenses and stuff in Personal Capital. I like going back and seeing how much we spent on restaurants, utilities, etc.

My question is specifically when it comes to expenses while on vacation, and how you categorize them? I’m thinking about things like eating at a restaurant.

Part of me says to just categorize this as restaurants (what they actually are) because it’s the most accurate.

But then I think - when I look back at this in a year, I don’t want to really think that I ate out THAT much just regularly. So then I think…should I categorize it as Travel? That’d give me a better idea of how much it costs to maintain the same(ish) level of travel which I could see as being useful.

But it also skews data in other ways.

And then I was thinking…what if I make another ‘Travel - Restaurants’ category or something to narrow it down even further? But that seems like an administrative nightmare particularly since I don’t further break down other travel expenses…

So I guess what I’m asking is: when you have expenses when you travel, do you categorize them for what they ACTUALLY are, or do you put them in a different category type?


#2

If it’s out to eat, we count it as “out”, which is our entertainment line item. If it’s groceries for the rental house it goes to “food” since we still would have to eat if we weren’t on vacation.


#3

I think all that stuff just goes under vacation for us.


#4

I don’t really budget to this level with day to day expenses but I do budget the vacation itself. In general I subtract an estimate of our normal run rate for food from what we spent. Anything over is vacation.


#5

My husband categorizes it as travel, I categorize it as eating out.

Depends on what we’re doing. If we want to look at how much our vacation/travel costs, we include that in the travel/vacation line for a specific destination.

If we’re looking at an overall view (i.e. year end review), we just put that in as eating out.


#6

We bucket all vacation expenses into “Travel”.

Logic is, it’s hard to budget (I know you said you’re anti-budget, but I’m not) for money spent on food (among other things) during travel on a month-to-month basis in your normal budget. Other reason is, it is easier to stay in bounds on one set of rules compared to many. For example, we like to think about staying below [$3,000] during a trip not within $800 in one category, $250 in another, $1,150 in another, etc.

Year to year, you could have a sum like [$10,000] to spend on travel or whatever. We like to break up the sum and plan how to stay within that limit during several trips. Too much granularity / headache ruins the trip IMO.


#7

I agree with @Tran , I would just lump everything into travel. Historically, I’ve found when I try to get too fancy and create a million different categories it becomes an admin nightmare like you were saying.

I think too that when I were to look back for future vacations I would want to see all travel expenses in one total, in order to better budget for the next trip.


#8

In Mint, you can add tags in addition to categories. So I “tag” vacations, but leave them in their respective categories (typically eating out and hotels). I’m not sure if Personal Capital has something similar.

It did confuse me when I looked at last August. I spent over $1,000 eating out with my wife that month - but that was during our honeymoon in Iceland.


#9

Yes, most definitely you want to categorize your expenses as sub expenses when you travel. That way, you know how much you spend for each trip in each area and can plan accordingly!


#10

This makes sense to me and probably what we’ll follow.

Thanks for the input everybody! So interesting to see how different people tackle the same issue :slight_smile: