I’m an admissions counselor for a university, and I make $37,000 a year. I spend a lot of time on the road, and I’m trying to get out of debt, but I have one credit card I’m still using for travel expenses. The university refunds me for these expenses, which always run $300 to $400 per trip, but usually it takes about three weeks for this to happen. Do you have any advice for someone in my situation?
Let’s set up an account, and prime the pump once. By this, I mean in the next few months I want you save up $500, then open a separate checking account for reimbursable travel expenses only. Make sure a debit card is attached to the account, too.
If you put $500 into this account one time, you’ll never have to save for it again. You’ll use some of that money for your travel expenses—on your debit card—and when they reimburse you, you’ll put the reimbursement check directly into your travel account. After you get the initial $500 in there, your travel account will run off your reimbursement checks.
Lots of people carry credit cards on the road for expenses, but often they’ll end up buying things that aren’t reimbursable. It happens to everyone who travels. Then, over time, you accidentally run up credit card debt. But when you use a debit card with an account that’s completely separate, and you’re not using it for anything except reimbursable travel expenses, it’ll help you become a lot more disciplined with your purchases on the road.
Everyone who travels a lot does some stress eating and stress spending. Why? Because being on the road often, or for long periods of time, is no fun. The only people who think travel for work is glamorous are those who don’t do it for living!
* Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 15 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.