Moving Abroad for Love? Don’t forget to pack these 6 Money Management Tips

It’s February again and Love is in the air.  In 2016, American Express estimated that at least  6 million people would get engaged on Valentine’s Day, so it’s a safe assumption that a portion of the nearly 8 million and counting U.S. citizens that live abroad, moved for romance.

As an international banker and former U.S. Expat, I have seen many a romance strained and even ruined due to finances. Most couples are so entrenched in the details of planning a life in a foreign country and the endless tasks required for relocating overseas, that they forget to discuss the potential challenges of managing their finances globally.

  1. Create your own separate financial plan – Engagements can be broken, and living with someone in a foreign country can easily test any relationship. Pre-Departure, develop a financial plan that outlines sources of income, expenses, and a Plan B Fund (as in Bye-Bye — it didn’t work out).
  2. Take baby financial steps before fully committing to a new life overseas. In the short term, perhaps a long distance romance is best, and if your partner is on an Expatriate assignment, perhaps the sponsoring company will pay for visas and airline tickets for frequent visits.
  3. Don’t give up your home immediately, but instead sublet or rent it out and put your household goods in storage.
  4. Most countries recognize marriage as a sacred institution, offering the maximum benefits and protection for each party. This is why most of my friends tell me they would not accompany their partner to a foreign country without the benefit of marriage.If you are not married, think about registering as a civil or domestic partnership before leaving home. This might offer you the best alternative for financial protection should problems arise overseas. Consider creating a formal cohabitation agreement that will clearly state the living and financial arrangements you’ve agreed to. For example, if you are not authorized to work or can’t find employment, is your partner willing to support you financially, and to what extent? Will you have an allowance, or will your partner pay for all expenses in the home and host country, and for how long? If you split up,  who will pay for your repatriation?
  5. What about your career? If you are permitted to work, is it a country where you will be able to easily find employment? Ask your company about taking a leave of absence from your job (don’t forget to ask if the leave is paid or unpaid and offers job protection). If you work for a global company, maybe your company has an office in your new host country, or you can work remotely. If employment is not an option, maybe this is the time to launch a new online business venture or gain an advanced degree at a local University.
  6. If you plan to generate income in the host country, invest in a consultation with a licensed, qualified tax professional. Also, don’t forget about State tax filing requirements, and your host country tax filing requirements and potential tax liability. Seek advice from an immigration attorney to fully help you understand the basics of local immigration laws, including visas, work permits and your rights as a foreigner. This information may become valuable if you fall out of love with your partner, but fall madly in love with your host country and want to start a new life as a Solo Expat.

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China tightens Great Firewall by declaring unauthorised VPN services illegal | South China Morning Post

When People travel and live overseas they are often surprised to learn that in certain countries, online access is restricted and certain websites are blocked. Most often these are social media (Facebook, Twitter) and streaming sites (Hulu, Netflix) or any websites with content the country deems troublesome. Also, most overseas financial websites won’t allow full access for online and mobile banking transactions from certain countries.

To gain global online access, most travelers and expats will use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) – Corporations have used VPNs for years to give their employees access to the company network when working outside the office. A VPN gives you access to a private network and will mask your location.

Be aware that in addition to China declaring some VPNs illegal, some countries in the Middle East have started fining people for using VPNs. It’s always good to use caution when using a VPN in a foreign country, and have a few VPNs at your disposal. Some of the most popular ones are: Astrill, StrongVPN, Tunnel Bear, Witopia, and VyPr.

Source: China tightens Great Firewall by declaring unauthorized VPN services illegal | South China Morning Post

5 Apps That Will Help You Make Money While Traveling | Travel + Leisure

Traveling overseas you always want to minimize expenses and save as much money as you can, but for those Travelers and Global Digital Nomads who want to earn a living or extra cash when traveling, there are a few options thanks to the new gig economy.

From online marketing and remote projects to using your Smart Phone as a revenue generator, there are several ways to earn money from selling travel photos to getting paid to watch TV.

Source: 5 Apps That Will Help You Make Money While Traveling | Travel + Leisure

5 Financial Travel Hacks for your overseas vacation on Dr. King’s Birthday weekend.

As Americans enjoy the first long Holiday weekend of 2017, celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday, many will take the opportunity to travel overseas, preferably to somewhere warm and sunny to escape Winter, and where they can capitalize on the strength of the U.S. Dollar.  Here are 5 Financial Travel Hacks to help you get started this weekend.

  1. In case you have an unforeseen emergency or illness, purchase adequate travel insurance. Also remember that most U.S. Health Plans don’t cover medical procedures outside the U.S, so buy additional medical insurance that covers you globally and includes repatriation of remains and medical evacuation.
  2. It’s always a good idea to arrive in a country with even a little local currency – enough to get you safely to your hotel. Everyone wants to avoid paying excessive fees on foreign exchange at the airport or hotels, so always try to purchase your foreign currency ahead of time. Buy either online or from your bank.  If you’re a frequent international traveler, consider switching to a debit or credit card without international transaction fees, or use pre-paid foreign currency travel cards.
  3. Consider changing your ATM/Debit pin number to the more globally accepted 6 digits instead f the 4 digit PIN more commonly used in the U.S.
  4. Always know your daily ATM and POS (Point of Sale) withdrawal amount. Also, confirm with your bank if it is a business daily amount or a daily calendar amount. (e.g. a business daily maximum withdrawal amount of $100 dollars might not be sufficient if Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, a Holiday where banks are closed, were counted as one business day). Adjust accordingly to match your anticipated vacation spending.
  5. Think about detaching a bit from mobile devices while traveling. Free and accessible Wi-Fi is tempting, and this is what hackers rely on. When checking into hotels, or waiting in cafes or airports, always make sure you are entering the correct Wi-Fi name, preferably with a password. For an additional layer of security, purchase a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to use in tandem with Wi-Fi.