Tracking foreign currency used for expenses
Currently within YNAB when buying food, travel e.t.c which I later expense to my company I just have a specific category for that which I allocate that expense to and then when I receive money from my company I add as an inflow transaction and it balances out.
I travel with work and often have have expenses which I pay for in foreign currency and buy foreign currency cash before I travel. This leaves me with an excess of foreign currency and I find it hard to track this within my budget using the method I used for my local currency.
How do others deal with this?
I'm in the middle of a 4-month business trip to another country that is primarily cash-based. Here is what I do. In addition to my Wallet account in YNAB, I have 2 different foreign currency cash accounts - Foreign Currency and Euros. I usually don't buy cash in advance - I'll get money from an ATM using my checking account that doesn't charge a fee for foreign ATM transactions and will reimburse me the fee if the ATM I use charges a fee. Regardless, it is a transfer from Checking to Foreign Currency. I then set up a spreadsheet where I can enter my purchases in local currency and it converts it to USD based on the conversion rate that I received when I got my local currency. Then using those numbers, I enter it into YNAB as a transaction in my foreign currency account. At the end of the trip I try to spend down my local currency. I'm usually pretty good at getting it down to about $5. For non-Euro foreign currency, whatever is left gets dropped into a charity bin at the airport and is a transaction allocated to my donations category. There is a bit of exchange rate gain/loss - I think over the past 3 weeks I've "lost" about $2, but I'm not too concerned. Oh, and for the stuff that I do put on my card, I guess the exchange rate, record it in YNAB but flag it to be looked at again when the transaction is fully cleared on the credit card website.
This works for me because I've never been one to lose cash or receipts. Even wandering around a Christmas Market downing my gluhwein, I am able to hold onto the information I need to keep my YNAB up to date.
If abroad for a shorter time I only track my card expenses which are converted by the card company and any cash withdrawals. I don't track the foreign currency cash transactions because it's just too much hassle, and I suck at tracking cash even at home. If I went abroad for a month or more to a cash-based location I would make a separate budget in the currency in question.
So the card expenses are entered with red flag (my check when cleared reminder) and an approximate amount, using a category (typically Vacation) with more than enough padding. When the transactions clear on the card I'll readjust any of the red-flagged transactions.