Author Topic: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels  (Read 6518 times)

gillamnstr

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I've traveled for work for years as a roadie taking care of costumes for Broadway shows. On previous contracts, the company has paid for hotels and I've gotten a small per diem. On this one, we get a large per diem (about $850/week) and have to figure out our own housing. The company always provides a few housing options but these usually range from $55 - up to $125 per night plus room tax which is usually 8%. Most of my co-workers flock to these or else see what else they can find on AirBnb with a rooftop view, or full kitchen.

I'm sharing my badassity because I've been finding all kinds of alternative living situations on AirBnb for $18 - $35/night. I travel a foldable bike so I can stay up to about 4 miles from the theater. I've also stayed with a few friends and my parents along the way. That per diem is tax free money they're just GIVING us. I haven't done a total of what I've saved but it's in the thousands since I started in December. Airbnb definitely has it's quirks, but depending on what you can put up with, it's a great money saver.

HenryDavid

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2015, 12:27:25 PM »
Okay, this has been going on forever, in a strange and little-known part of life called . . . the arts.

Actors, writer,s musicians, dancers--and those who teach these things--have never had expense accounts.
They have always relied on couch-surfing, walking, biking, buses etc when they travel for work.
Even the eventually affluent successful ones usually spend years like this before they start to get sales, grants, etc.
Everyone can learn a lot from watching how people live when perfecting their art, rather than earning money, is the center of life.

Artists are the original badasses.

I'm a red panda

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2015, 12:28:12 PM »
I wish I got a per diem for work.  I'd save a fortune (or break even at least- I tend to spend next to nothing on meals, and all my money on show tickets when I go to NYC, my most frequent travel destination.  The company won't reimburse entertainment, but reimburses a small fortune for meals.)


Good for you for finding a way to make some extra cash out of it!


I never realized per diems are tax free.

nereo

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2015, 12:33:11 PM »
Oohhh... I'm jealous.  We get a per-diem at work, but they changed the policy so taht now you have to show that you've spent the money in order to get the per-diem.  It's insane.  I can go out to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and expense $52/day doing that... but if I go to a grocery store and spend only $10 on my food for the day, I get... $10.

misschedda

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2015, 12:33:18 PM »
Sounds great!

My coworkers get use-or-lose per diem but have also had great experiences staying in low cost places so that they can use the per diem on nicer meals.

kewper

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2015, 03:12:03 PM »
Oohhh... I'm jealous.  We get a per-diem at work, but they changed the policy so taht now you have to show that you've spent the money in order to get the per-diem.  It's insane.  I can go out to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and expense $52/day doing that... but if I go to a grocery store and spend only $10 on my food for the day, I get... $10.

Well one suggestion is to purchase things that you might be able to eat later, non-perishables, etc.  If the typical amount is $52, why not spend $52?  but use it later

I'm a red panda

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2015, 03:23:18 PM »

Well one suggestion is to purchase things that you might be able to eat later, non-perishables, etc.  If the typical amount is $52, why not spend $52?  but use it later

That wouldn't fly with our auditor.  Maybe if they don't have to show reciepts...

nereo

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2015, 03:26:27 PM »
Oohhh... I'm jealous.  We get a per-diem at work, but they changed the policy so taht now you have to show that you've spent the money in order to get the per-diem.  It's insane.  I can go out to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and expense $52/day doing that... but if I go to a grocery store and spend only $10 on my food for the day, I get... $10.

Well one suggestion is to purchase things that you might be able to eat later, non-perishables, etc.  If the typical amount is $52, why not spend $52?  but use it later
yeah... thought of that, but we have someone who actually reads the grocery receipts, and rejects them if we have more food on it than she thinks one person could sensibly eat...  she actually grumbled that I bought a "jumbo" box of cereal for $5 for a two-day trip.  Sheesh.

couponvan

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2015, 04:43:39 PM »
This is where the appetizer, meal and dessert option come in handy...if you must spend $52, make the appetizer one that you can eat and dinner and dessert for later.  That 28 oz rib eye makes a nice steak salad on day 2.

In the per diem without receipts days, I paid for law school for DH with per diem?  In the $21 overtime meal allowance, I was able to eat for 3 days off of 1 OT day.  My new firm requires receipts - I am always getting an appetizer, big dinner, and dessert (at an affordable location)....

Retire-Canada

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2015, 05:01:31 PM »
Oohhh... I'm jealous.  We get a per-diem at work, but they changed the policy so taht now you have to show that you've spent the money in order to get the per-diem.  It's insane.  I can go out to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and expense $52/day doing that... but if I go to a grocery store and spend only $10 on my food for the day, I get... $10.

Well one suggestion is to purchase things that you might be able to eat later, non-perishables, etc.  If the typical amount is $52, why not spend $52?  but use it later

Buy a $50 gift card at the grocery store which you can use at home. See if the auditors go for that. They might just want a receipt and not care all that much about the transaction as long as it's food related.

-- Vik

El Gringo

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2015, 07:01:04 PM »
When I travel abroad for work in developing countries, we get enough per diem to buy meals at western/expat restaurants (for example, $90/day for meals).  I always buy the local food, which costs $1 or $2 per meal!

mbl

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2015, 12:40:45 PM »
I lived in Copenhagen for a few months while working on a joint venture with Ericson and KTAS.
We were given a per diem of $140.  No receipts.   Just a flat amount.
Our apartments were already paid for by the company.
Bought $40 monthly bus pass.
Lunch at work was about $4.
Bought groceries and ate out quite a bit.
Still cleared a good amount of money when I got home and submitted.

Very, very generous.

cashstasherat23

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2015, 01:48:53 PM »
Dang, really jealous of all of you who get a set per diem! My boss has a pretty reasonable policy and we don't have any strict guidelines besides don't go buy yourself a ridiculous steak dinner, but we only get reimbursed for what we buy each day. However, the reason I travel is for events, and we usually have a ton of leftover boxed sandwich lunches from the events each day. I may try the strategy that some others have, of taking an extra sandwich for my dinner while I am flying back home, and buying a gift card for a nationwide restaurant at the airport!

dunhamjr

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2015, 02:22:14 PM »
Oohhh... I'm jealous.  We get a per-diem at work, but they changed the policy so taht now you have to show that you've spent the money in order to get the per-diem.  It's insane.  I can go out to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and expense $52/day doing that... but if I go to a grocery store and spend only $10 on my food for the day, I get... $10.

a perdiem is not meant to be extra income.  its the company covering expenses up to an allowable value.  why should you get the rest of the $?

again.  its not income.  its not yours.  they are covering your expenses with a limit.

congrats to the OP for working for a very wasteful company that is giving him a huge perdiem but not tracking if they even need to provide it.  and not requiring the difference back.

to me its a funny comparison for a mustachian to be working at a very wasteful un-mustachian company.

bluecollarmusician

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2015, 05:41:02 PM »
Oohhh... I'm jealous.  We get a per-diem at work, but they changed the policy so taht now you have to show that you've spent the money in order to get the per-diem.  It's insane.  I can go out to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and expense $52/day doing that... but if I go to a grocery store and spend only $10 on my food for the day, I get... $10.

Could you get 42$ cash back?

use2betrix

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2015, 07:55:51 AM »
I get per diem as well and it's great! I get 650-800/wk now depending on days worked. I worked one job for 4 months where I was getting $1160/wk per diem in Houston!

I live full time in a 5th wheel where my payment is $460/mo. Rv spots are usually $350-$700/month.

I just pocket the difference, don't have to show any receipts.

There are obviously downfalls as well. I move every 4-12 months and don't get to pick where I live, and living in a trailer lol. It's nice though and I don't mind it too much. My gf travels and works with me as well.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2015, 10:26:41 AM by Trixr606 »

mm1970

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2015, 08:13:04 AM »
Oohhh... I'm jealous.  We get a per-diem at work, but they changed the policy so taht now you have to show that you've spent the money in order to get the per-diem.  It's insane.  I can go out to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and expense $52/day doing that... but if I go to a grocery store and spend only $10 on my food for the day, I get... $10.

Well one suggestion is to purchase things that you might be able to eat later, non-perishables, etc.  If the typical amount is $52, why not spend $52?  but use it later
yeah... thought of that, but we have someone who actually reads the grocery receipts, and rejects them if we have more food on it than she thinks one person could sensibly eat...  she actually grumbled that I bought a "jumbo" box of cereal for $5 for a two-day trip.  Sheesh.
Then why even call it per diem?  It's not.

My spouse gets per diem.
At my company, they just reimburse you for what you spend.  Sounds like this is what you guys do.

nereo

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2015, 12:30:17 PM »
a perdiem is not meant to be extra income.  its the company covering expenses up to an allowable value.  why should you get the rest of the $?

again.  its not income.  its not yours.  they are covering your expenses with a limit.
I fundamentally disagree with you on this point.  A per-diem (latin for 'per-day') is absolutely a form of compensation.  According to the IRS a per diem is " an allowance paid to your employees for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses incurred whentravelling. This allowance is in lieu of paying their actual travel expenses."
There's a researched federal per-diem rate for all different regions of the country based on what expenses a typical traveler will have for eating out.
I would argue that both employees and financial accountants consider the per diem to be part of the compensation package offered to employees for traveling.

I'd agree with mm1970 that what my department is doing is more akin to trying to pay actual travel expenses while claiming still giving a per-diem (at least on paper).

What makes me angry about my department's policy is that it punishes thrifty behavior.  If "Tom" and "Pete" go to Cleveland for a week for work, and Tom goes out to eat every meal but Pete hits up the grocery store to buy everything he needs, Tom spends 3x what Pete does and has an easier time getting all that money back.  Tom even gets more air-miles on his credit card.  This isn't how it's supposed to work (e.g. "...in lieu of paying their actual travel expenses.")

use2betrix

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2015, 01:12:15 PM »
a perdiem is not meant to be extra income.  its the company covering expenses up to an allowable value.  why should you get the rest of the $?

again.  its not income.  its not yours.  they are covering your expenses with a limit.

What makes me angry about my department's policy is that it punishes thrifty behavior.  If "Tom" and "Pete" go to Cleveland for a week for work, and Tom goes out to eat every meal but Pete hits up the grocery store to buy everything he needs, Tom spends 3x what Pete does and has an easier time getting all that money back.  Tom even gets more air-miles on his credit card.  This isn't how it's supposed to work (e.g. "...in lieu of paying their actual travel expenses.")

Does your company call it per diem, or do they just reimburse you for expenses? Sometimes that could be called "billable per diem" but even then, I think that's stupid to call it that. Per diem is basically a set cost to cover extra expenses incurred by traveling. Not just food and lodging. For instance, if they put me somewhere that has a gym that's 45 minutes away, I consider that an extra "cost" of me working on the road. Having to work/live in a crap location that the normal necessities as I deem, are not easily available. That's how I justify it.

If my company did like yours, I would certainly be eating fine. Very healthy, and not thrifty. If they are not going to complain about what they spend, then I'd use it to my full advantage.

forummm

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Re: I'm traveling for work and saving a ton not staying in hotels
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2015, 05:40:59 PM »
Sweet! I don't like traveling for work. But I always bring my own food or eat super cheaply and pocket the per diem. It compensates me for the annoyance.