Month : November 2012

Money Management

How Do Expats Make International Payments?

A key question that has been a regular concern for most expats is being able to take care of their financial obligations even when they are away from home. After all, one can never really let go of their connections to home even if they are somewhere else growing their corporate careers. It is for this reason that expats should learn how to use an offshore bank account to facilitate their financial transactions even from afar. 

In very simple terms, an offshore bank account is a bank account hosted by a bank based in a location different from where the account owner is located. For most of us, bank accounts are opened in a local bank, one that we can visit on a regular basis to take care of our financial transactions. 

Not surprisingly, the international nature of business coupled with our increasing reliance on the interne has spawned various methods through which one can manage their bank accounts from a distance. This is something that expats can certainly take advantage of. Instead of having to talk to bank personnel face-to-face or on the phone, banking mobility tools now allow expats to finance their bank accounts, authorize payments, receive payments from others, even issue checks from a distance. Offshore bank accounts also offer the advantage of gaining access to perks and benefits like free international transfers, travel insurance for the account owner, and complete reliability in terms of transaction security and accessibility. 

Whether you want your money to be saved in euro, dollar, even pound sterling and other local currencies, as well as gain the ability to withdraw your money via debit cards in your chosen currency, as well as pay your bills in a timely manner or send money to your family back home, offshore bank accounts offer undeniable flexibility and advantage versus local accounts that may charge exorbitant amounts just to execute simple transactions over the wire. 

Expats should use an offshore bank account to take care of their international payments so they can reap the benefits of a bank account specifically geared to cover cross-border transactions. As an expat, nothing else can be more convenient. 

Mind Over Money

Managing Awkward Financial Situations

As you start taking control of your finances, you will start paying attention to every penny spent and every available dollar. This means that the little inconvenient situations that commonly arise like office gifts and lunch with friends a little more difficult. Here are some great ideas to tactfully handle a few common and awkward financial situations while still sticking to your budget.

The Group Gift

Group gifts can be difficult. You may be interested in going in on a gift and then feel astounded when you find out that the group has decided to purchase a luxury gift and needs hundreds of dollars from each contributing member. To avoid this awkward situation, first get a general idea of what you are willing to spend on the gift. When someone asks if you want to go in on a group gift, ask what gift and budget they have in mind. If a decision hasn’t been made or if the gift is out of your price range, simply mention that you had other ideas and will purchase your own gift this time. Then go out and find a gift that will work with your financial goals. You don’t have to overspend just because everyone else has decided to. There are many excellent gifts that you can purchase while still sticking to your financial goals.

Dinner with Friends

Taking control of your finances isn’t about never getting to go out or have a good time any more. Rather, you are just doing the things you love on your terms and as you can afford them. When going out to eat with friends, you can make dinner decisions that will work with your budget. Every menu has a wide range price options. If you know how much you can spend, be sure to order something that fits within that amount. You have a couple of options to avoid awkward situations when the check comes. You can either ask for your bill to be separate when you place your order, or you can speak up if the group tries to divide evenly and you have spent a lot less than everyone else. Bringing cash along, in small denominations can work great. Simply figure out what you owe (including tax) and tack on a generous tip. Then say something like, “This should cover what I owe, since I spent a lot less, I would rather that we don’t split the check straight across.”

Christmas and Other Holidays

Holiday gift giving can be especially stressful. When you open a generous gift and have only purchased a small and generic gift for the other person, it can be really awkward. Remember that what you choose to give doesn’t have to be based on what you receive. Sticking to your financial goals is important and you will have to choose gifts in your price range. If you know that you can’t spend a lot, but want to find a thoughtful and generous gift, remember that thought counts.Rather than purchasing a $5 gift card to a local fast food restaurant, purchase an inexpensive frame and include a favorite picture. Add a personal and meaningful note, to make your gift really stand out. You may also want to purchase a few inexpensive but nice holiday gifts to have on hand if needed. Remember, everyone sets the budget that works for them, and your budget is determined by what you have, not what others have.

Mastering the art of personal finance won’t be easy.  However, if you use a little creativity and dedication, you can find solutions to potentially awkward social situations.  Never apologize for sticking to your financial goals.  Be proud of the decision that you have made and stand firm, even if it requires a bit more work.