How to Budget In Multiple Foreign Currencies

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Tomorrow I’ll be updating you on a new MH4C schedule, but I’ll let you know this much – every Thursday I’ll start answering a readers question (instead of Friday).  If you have a question you can contact me

A reader asked:

We are also missionaries in PNG (currently on furlough in Canada).  For quite a while we’ve been wondering if there are any simple-to-use personal finance software programs out there that deal in multiple currencies.  Do you know of anything like that?  Especially something inexpensive/free and user friendly? (my husband and I are both not very computer savvy…I’ve used programs like Quicken and Money Matters in the past without problems, but have no clue how to do Excel Spreadsheets and things like that!)  We’ve found that one of the most challenging things for us financially since moving overseas, has been dealing in PNG Kina, USD, and Canadian dollars and tracking our spending and really having a good idea of where we stand at any given point.

First let me say, that I completely identify with this question.  In fact, the parallels between my family and this family are uncanny.  We are both missionaries in Papua New Guinea.  We both deal with US dollars, Canadian dollars, and Papua New Guinea Kina on a regular basis.

There are only a small population of the world that must deal with the unfortunate reality of budgeting in and purchasing multiple currenciesBecause multiple currency users represent such a small percentage of the population most popular budgeting tools exclude a useful multiple currency function. 

It seems as if the process should be quite simple, but believe me, it can become very complicated.  However, to help you avoid that hassle I am going to show you the two most helpful tools that assist our family in tracking multiple currencies. 

How to Track the Flow of Money for Multiple Currencies : Money Dance Personal Finance Software

The best software I have discovered is Money Dance (affiliate link).  I’m sort of getting ahead of myself because I have more to say about MoneyDance next week, but since it fit so well into my question this week I thought I would say a few things about it. 

For a long time we used an Excel spreadsheet and Quicken.  However, a couple of months ago we made a switch to a financial software called Money Dance.  After doing a lot of research (that I will share next week) I found that it was the best in our situation.

Here’s what I wrote to the reader and said about MoneyDance:

  • You can get a free (100 transaction) trial download.  This way you can download it and try it out before you commit to buying it.  If you like the product you buy it and they give you a code that allows you to get the full product with unlimited transactions.
  • VERY EASY to set up foreign currencies.  When I went hunting for a new personal finance program that was obviously on the top of my list.  I’m from Ontario, my wife Wyoming, and we live in PNG so accounting in foreign currencies is a must.  Money Dance is set to handle multiple currencies.
  • Very clean interface – basically it is easy to use with essential features.
  • As for cost it is $40 but you are never forced to upgrade.  Quicken (as an example) makes you upgrade every three years (if you want to keep online updating).  I got tired of paying for upgrades and Money Dance is 1/2 the price of Quicken.
  • Easy to budget.  We’ve now stopped using our excel spreadsheet to budget and now only use Money Dance.
  • Great customer support.  Quicken was never helpful.  I’ve had great help with Money Dance.

How To Customize Your Own Excel Budget to Track Multiple Currencies

Download your free customizable budget worksheet.

How to set up your budget:

When setting up your budget you need to decide what will be your primary ‘tracking’ currency.  For example, in my case I spend more PNG Kina than any other currency, but I prefer to track all my spending in USD (basically because I’m paid in USD).

Since I am paid in USD I set up my budget according to how much USD I want to spend in each budget category. 

From there I have added a detailed recording list to the bottom of the budget.  In the section below I have the following columns:

Date

Place

Total in Local Currency

Total in US Currency.  In this Colum Excel is preset to take my most commonly spent currency (kina) and convert it into my tracking currency (USD).  This is done simply done by a function that refers to the total in the local currency then multiplies that number by the exchange rate.  For example, =3D (local currency cell)*.36 (exchange rate).

When we enter our receipts we enter the date, the place, and the cost in the local currency.  Based on the formula above Excel automatically converts the local currency to USD.

If, however, we buy something in the USD that month when we enter into our budget we would:

Enter the date, the place, skip the local currency line, and enter the US currency total. 

If, however, we bought something in CAD that we month when we enter it into the budget we would:

Enter the date, the place, enter the CAD total, then manually override the formula (=3D*.36) to make it match the CAD exchange rate (=3D*.93). 

While this process still sounds complicated it is by far the easiest free way I’ve found for tracking multiple currencies.

How to Customize the Free Budget Worksheet

You will need to know a little about Excel to customize this budget.  By the way, this is the budget template we used while we were living in the states so you can use it even if you only budget in one currency.

You can add your own categories and expenses directly into the budget itself.

You will need to know some common excel functions to use the budget.  Take a look it should be ready for you to use. 

Download the Free Budget Template

This template is adapted from this original template provide by Microsoft.

If customizing your own budget sounds like too much work why not give MoneyDance a free test run?

Comments

  1. Anita says

    Hello,

    I have dual citizenship (USA & Spain) and I live in the UK. I have to deal with three currencies, as I still have some bills in the US, and I have created a bank account in Spain to pay taxes, etc. I use YNAB as a budgeting tool, but I am looking for the ideal platform that I can see all three currencies without having to sacrifice to currency converter. It seems like none exist. I tried Mint but it “assumes” too much about my categories. It also bugs me to change the currency on programs that it affects everything. So far, HomeBudget is good at currency conversion, but I’m still looking. Ugh.

  2. Katie says

    Just took a look at this – We are also missionaries in PNG, but fortunately only dealing with 2 currencies. We get paid in USD even though our support comes to us in USD, CAD, and the British pound! So that makes it a bit easier.
    I’ve just been using an excel spreadsheet, and have (I think) figured out a good way to handle the exchange rate thing. Every time I get PNG cash out I am ‘charged’ the USD amount for the exchange rate at that time. So, I’ve ended up dividing the USD total by the PNG total to come up with my own “exchange rate”, which I use to convert all my kina into dollars. Then each time I get more cash out that month, I perform the same action. So all my kina ends up being “worth” the same that month, even if I get cash out at two different exchange rates. Hard to explain, but I think it’ll work. The only glitch I’ve run into so far is when I receive cash kina from other sources, because technically that kina is never exchanged to USD. It is received and spent in kina only. Fortunately that doesn’t happen much, so I’m not too concerned it’ll throw off my whole system. I’ll probably just assume the exchange rate at the time of receipt like with my cash out.
    Anyway, any thoughts or suggestions would be helpful!
    Katie

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