I’ve lived abroad for more than two years now, and one key way
I’ve managed to do it successfully is by
managing my budget.
Although the word “budget” doesn’t necessarily conjure up
excitement, it’s a necessary element of any successful trip.
Budgeting and finance apps definitely make keeping track of
your money easier, and – dare I say – fun. As a freelance writer,
my monthly income varies, which makes using these apps even more
I’ve been living and traveling in Europe for 2 years – here are 9
things that are cheaper abroad than in the US
From seeing what categories I overspend in – such as food or
entertainment – to monitoring my credit score, each app helps me
track my finances in a different way.
During my time abroad, I’ve tested out various money apps. Here
are five of the most critical ones I use to stay on top of my
budget while traveling.
Trail Wallet is an app that allows you to track your spending
per trip or per month. Aside from monitoring where your money is
going in various categories, from accommodation to transportation
to food, you can also set a daily budget, which is my favorite
perk about the app. And you can easily go from checking what
you’ve spent so far to how much money you have left to spend.
In addition to seeing your expenses in your home country’s
currency, you can also see your expenses in the local currency,
which is helpful. Plus, when you’re online, you can see the
latest exchange rate, too.
And, before you lose your receipts from the day, you can just
take pictures of them and add them to the app. (I can’t be the
only one who’s prone to losing receipts right after I get them.)
The only downside? Currently, Trail Wallet is only available on
If you’re not an iPhone person, Mint is a good alternative to Trail
Wallet. I already had it installed when leaving the US, so I was
used to the way I worked.
Highlights of the app include how it links to your various bank
accounts, as well as credit cards and investments. And the
color-coded pie chart makes it simple to see how much money you
spend in various categories, such as “shopping” and “bills.”
You can set budget amounts for these categories, too, and if you
overspend, the app will alert you – which will naturally
encourage you to not do so again, or to reduce spending in
another category, like food and dining.
Mint will also update you on your credit score, which is
motivating when it comes to how you spend money.
Although Mint does not convert to other currencies – it only
shows monetary amounts in US and Canadian dollars – this does not
bother me since I can just use a currency converter if need be.
Mint is available on iOS and Android.
Whether you switch countries as often as I do – every one to
three months – or not, the XE currency converter app makes it
easy to look up exactly how much you’re spending.
Even though you may have certain countries’ conversions memorized
– these days, one euro is equivalent to a few cents more than a
US dollar and four zloty in Poland are equivalent to one US
dollar – having an app quickly do your money conversions for you
definitely helps and will prevent you from accidentally
You can also see up to 10 currencies at once – such as dollars,
euros, and British pounds. The app also allows you to transfer
money internationally, which is another bonus.
The XE app is available on both iOS and Android.
At some point in your travels, you may meet up with a friend and
end up at a cash-only restaurant or flea market. You have cash,
but they don’t and want to
pay you right back. Or, maybe you two decide to split an
Airbnb or Booking.com reservation. In these
cases, the Zelle app
becomes very convenient.
In the touch of a few buttons, they can pay you back – or vice
versa – so you can both
avoid any awkward money situations.
Even if you bank with Chase and your friend banks with Bank of
America, for example, you can still both use Zelle. If they
haven’t set up Zelle yet, you can send them money by using their
phone number or email address and they can always download Zelle
In any case, the app is helpful when getting your budget back on
Zelle is available on both iOS and Android.
PayPal is another must-have
app that I use to help me maintain my budget while traveling. You
can decide what accounts to link to it, from your bank ones to
your credit or debit cards.
For me, the app is useful for receiving freelance work payments,
like I sometimes do, paying people back, or sending money to my
bank account. You can also create and send invoices through
PayPal, as well as send someone a digital gift card from vendors
such as Uber, iTunes, and Audible.
Additionally, you can use PayPal as your payment option for
things like the Airbnb you’ll book next week.
The app also serves as a good place to keep emergency money that
you can retrieve and transfer to yourself at a moment’s notice,
and, when traveling, you never know when you’ll need it.
And, since PayPal can link to other apps, like Mint, you’ll see
exactly how much you’re spending through it.
PayPal is available on both iOS and Android.
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