Finance News & Insights

Can you guess which 1 of these 10 ‘business’ expenses wasn’t approved?

Game time! Here’s a little fun you can have with your finance staffers the next time you sense a small productivity slump is afoot. 

See if your team can guess which single one of these expenses – all of which were submitted by real employees at real companies – failed to get the green light.

They come from the latest survey by expense management solution provider Certify. And there are some real doozies on the list. You’ll be hard-pressed to believe the other nine were OK’d.

Which of these things just doesn’t belong?

Issue the challenge to your staffers: Which one of these 10 expenses got the thumbs down from their finance department?

  1. Christmas tree pajamas
  2. Book on motivation
  3. Hail damage to a vehicle
  4. Sleeping pills
  5. Cher concert tickets
  6. Scuba diving trip
  7. One-year-old shipping charge
  8. Hyperbaric oxygen chamber
  9. Mattress pad, and
  10. Freezer and microwave oven.

If your people guessed No. 6, they’re right on the money. Or out of money, in this case. That was the only one of these real-life business expenses which was denied.

No doubt that will get some conversations started. What was the craziest thing your own finance department has ever seen cross its desk for reimbursement?

And then come the excuses

As quickly as those reimbursement requests come, so do the justifications why theirs should be allowable.

Certify also tracked some of the more outlandish ones of those, as well. Five of the best:

  1. For a big-screen TV: “We need it to watch for hurricanes.” (no one’s ever heard of the internet?)
  2. For a hat: “Everyone else was getting one.” (the preschool defense)
  3. For $100 beers: “Liquid to maintain life in the tropics.” (I guess no one told them alcohol is actually dehydrating)
  4. For a second computer monitor: “I have two eyes.” (no doubt the eyestrain accommodation request will follow)
  5. For a new hotel comforter: “It just happened.” (probably better not to press for details there)

Yet again, we bet your own staffers can come up with a list of some pretty creative justifications they’ve heard for expense reimbursement.

The learning

Of course, these outlandish examples make a hard-to-dispute case for having a clearly spelled out T&E reimbursement policy.

And what’s often as important as spelling out what your company will approve is spelling out what’s out of bounds.

Certainly you can’t list everything under the sun, but even grouping into categories can help traveling employees understand where you draw the line.

Then make sure that information is available in a variety of places: online, in hard copy – even as a cheat sheet for employees to take with them.

Make sure everyone understands the “better to ask for forgiveness than permission” approach won’t fly at your company.

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