You can get in big trouble with your employer, and perhaps terminated, for using company funds for personal expenses on business trips. You must keep these expenses separate on business trips. It can be difficult to do sometimes, but keeping good records helps. If you must, keep a file folder for personal expenses and a separate one for business-related expenses.
Take Cash for Personal Expenses
Rather than double-checking that you are using the right credit card to pay for items, take cash along for personal expenses. Limit yourself to only using cash for your own items to prevent a mishap from occurring. It is a good idea to keep cash in a hotel-room safe and only take with you what is needed for the day. Carrying around sums of cash in unfamiliar territory can be dangerous as it is easier to lose cash when you have a lot stacked in a wallet.
Keep Receipts Separate
Keep all of your receipts separated. If it helps, label each receipt with a P for personal and a B for business expenses. You can separate them later and file them appropriately. If you forget to mark a receipt, look at the time, date and items listed on the receipt to decipher what category the purchase falls into.
If file folders are not ideal, consider envelopes instead. Envelopes are less bulky and can easily be tucked into a briefcase for safe keeping.
Obtain Funding for Personal Expenses
You may be tempted to use company money for personal expenses if your personal bank account looks a little thin. Consider obtaining additional funding, you can click here to see what options are available, for personal expenses. Keep these funds separate and only use them for your personal expenses such as entertainment, non-business related meals and activities.
If you have to use personal money for taxi cab service, tipping or some business expenses, make sure to write this on your expense sheet.
Breakdown Personal and Business Expenses
Create a list of expected personal expenses and a separate list for business expenses. You will need two lists. One just for business expenses and another for your personal expenses. On these lists you will want to make categories, such as business lunches, dinners or entertainment. On the personal expenses list, it is a good idea to allow some room for retail therapy to bring gifts home for family members and entertain yourself during periods of downtime.
Include items like:
- Gifts for children
- A comedy show
- Guided tour
- Conference room space rental
- Refreshments for business meetings
- Travel to business meetings
Make sure that you have enough space on your breakdown sheets for each day that you will be abroad to keep the tallying process organized.
Keeping just a pile of receipts is not helpful when you are traveling for business. You can easily get disorganized and can potentially include personal expenses with business expenses, or vice versa. The more organized you are prior to the trip, the easier it will be to keep your finances separate. Personal expenses accidentally mixed in with business expenses should be repaid promptly.