Expat Laurie Tracks Her International Budget With PocketSmith

We asked some of our wonderful users to share how they use PocketSmith to be productive with their money and plan for the future. Their stories are filled with ideas, suggestions and inspiration on how you can start crafting a meaningful relationship with your finances.

Read how Laurie manages her household’s retirement financial plan in multiple currencies in PocketSmith to make their travel budget go further.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m one half of an American couple who retired early and moved from Texas to Spain. We’ve been living in Spain for 2.5 years and absolutely love it.

How would you describe your role in your household?

I am the keeper of our budgets. Coming from the United States, it has taken us some time to get our arms around what an actual budget looks like living in Spain. Before our move, we did a lot of research about the cost of living in Spain, but it wasn’t until we had actually lived here for some time that we were able to really get our arms around the true costs.

What drew you to PocketSmith?

Before PocketSmith, I tried a number of different budgeting and spending tracking systems. PocketSmith was the only one that has finally given us the needed insight into our spending.

As retirees, we have a fixed budget target for the year that is based on US dollars. But our daily spending is primarily in Euros. We use our US credit card for 90% of our spending (paying in Euros), so we can also earn travel rewards. So daily currency exchange fluctuations can greatly affect how far our US dollars go here in Europe.

After trying several other approaches to setting up our budgets and tracking our spending, I had a wishlist of features, and PocketSmith has delivered beautifully on all of them.

  • Accurate multi-currency support
  • Automatic bank feeds
  • Customizable categories
  • Nested categories
  • The ability to tag transactions and add notes
  • Desktop and mobile versions
  • Income/expense reporting

How long have you been with us?

We have been using PocketSmith for about a year and a half.

What do you primarily use PocketSmith for?

The initial setup of PocketSmith took me some trial and error (like establishing our categories, sub-categories, creating multiple dashboards, and establishing budgets), but now that it’s fully set up, it’s so simple to use. I spend a few minutes assigning categories and tags to our transactions each day. By keeping up with our daily transactions, we can see how we’re doing on our spending as it relates to our budgets. Knowing where we are each day lets us make good decisions about how we’re spending. This is especially helpful around knowing if we have any money left in our restaurant budgets and if we should/shouldn’t go out to eat that day — Spain has great food!

How has PocketSmith changed the way you do money?

For us, the biggest expense we have is travel. In addition to an annual travel budget, if there are any months where we come in under budget on our variable monthly expenses (utilities, groceries, restaurants, entertainment, or discretionary type spend), we ‘transfer’ those savings as income into our annual travel budget. Knowing that we have a little extra money available for another trip is a great incentive to save a little bit here and there during the month because it adds up!

What are your favorite features?

I love the automatic feeds from our Spanish bank account and US credit card. I can quickly categorize and tag transactions, which allows me to get a very accurate picture of what we’ve spent and what we spent it on.

Got any tips?

Spend the needed time to really think about how you want to track your spending and set up as many budgets, categories, sub-categories, and tags as you need. The PocketSmith support team was always super responsive if I had any questions during my setup period.

Take a few minutes daily to categorize your transactions and check how you’re doing against your budgets. Being able to be proactive about spending instead of reactive has really helped us create a great balance and has reduced anxiety about making sure that we have an accurate picture of our spending.

What’s the best money decision you made in the past 12 months?

As new retirees, we’ve had to learn to be much more mindful about how we spend our money. We started our retirement in Valencia, Spain (which we loved). But as we saw rents and cost of living rising there, with PocketSmith, we could really visualize the changes quite easily, we made the decision to move to a less expensive region of Spain (it was also too hot for us there in Valencia so that also impacted our decision to move to a cooler climate). By moving to the beautiful green north of Spain, we cut our rent nearly in half. With those savings in rent, we’ve managed to fund an extra vacation or two this year.

Related articles

Managing Multiple Currencies in PocketSmith (With Video)
Calling all global citizens: If you're looking for an elegant yet customizable approach to managing multiple currencies in your financial life, PocketSmith is here to help!
Retiree Cliff Coordinates Multiple Accounts With PocketSmith
We asked some of our wonderful users to share how they use PocketSmith to be productive with their money and plan for the future. Read how Cliff manages all of his investments and pensions in retirement using PocketSmith.
How To Save Money While Planning For Holiday Travel
Are you eager to explore the world but worried about the financial hurdles of holiday travel? As a passionate traveler herself, Ruth understands the challenges of balancing wanderlust with a limited budget. She shares her tried-and-true tips on how to save money while planning for your dream holiday, ensuring that you can embark on unforgettable adventures without breaking the bank.