Issue #24, Volume 1
October 20, 2021
In previous newsletters we’ve discussed the mindset you need to succeed as an Anywhereist. Today, we’ll move on to the next ingredient you’ll need: a solid financial foundation, untethered from bricks and mortar access.
Some of this may seem obvious, but it’s important not to overlook these details because trying to straighten out a financial snafu from thousands of miles away is no fun at all.
Living Costs Money
(Duh, obvious, I know, but something you’ll need to plan for.)
No matter where you are, living there will cost you something. (In most parts of the world a lot less than you’ve been paying in the US!) That money has to come from somewhere.
Sources of income can include things like private wealth or income from investments or Social Security. Most of us, though, will need to do something to generate that income. That means you’re looking at either:
- A business of your own
- A remote job
An income that will support your life is the first step in your financial foundation.
Before You Go
Set up and get familiar with your bank’s online interface if you’re not already. If they have a phone app, install it and use it. Trust me, you do not want to be setting these things up from your new location!
Plan Your Financial Foundation Infrastructure
Whether you’re a freelance writer, working remotely as a software engineer, or collecting Social Security or dividend checks, you’ll need to create an infrastructure that lets you receive your funds and use them wherever you are.
(You can’t just write or cash a check when you’re on the other side of the world.)
Depending on where in the world you are, that could be as simple as online banking and using an ATM.
Most companies are happy to direct deposit your paycheck, so if you’re a remote employee make sure you have that set up and working smoothly before you go.
If you have your own business, you’ll need to put together an online system for getting paid. That’s a whole discussion in itself, so we won’t get into the weeds with it here. Just know you’ll need to put the pieces together.
Social Security will direct deposit your checks into your bank account in a number of countries, so depending where you go and for how long, you may want to simply have funds deposited into your new local bank account. Or, continue depositing it into your US account and accessing it from wherever you are.
When we first moved to Panama, that’s exactly what we did. My husband had just started receiving Social Security, so using our same bank (well, actually a credit union) where we’d had our accounts for years, we simply withdrew the funds we needed each week to pay our expenses in Panama from a local ATM.
This can get expensive, though, with ATM fees and daily withdrawal limits. Our credit union refunded our first few ATM fees each month, but most banks don’t do that.
It’s also not 100% reliable. If the local ATM isn’t communicating with your bank, you won’t be able to pull any money out of the machine. After experiencing a couple of countrywide communication stutters in the banking infrastructure, we decided it was time to make some changes.
A Local Bank Account (maybe)
So we opened an account at a local bank.
This works if you’re going to have a home base there for an extended period of time. It’s not a great solution if you’re relocating from place to place frequently.
Once we had our local bank account, we simply wired funds monthly from our home bank to the local bank. That also avoided the foreign transaction fees, which debit and credit card companies charge you each time you make a transaction from another country.
That’s an optional step in designing your financial foundation. Not everyone needs it.
Which brings me to credit cards. . . There are some cards which do not charge the foreign transaction fee. Capitol One offers three, with different annual fees and rewards. Here’s more information.
You should always have two credit cards, so if the communication is down between the country or city you’re in and the processing center — which happened to us more than once — you can use the other card. Or in case your card is frozen for whatever reason.
It’s also important that your credit card company know where you are so they don’t flag charges from your new location as fraudulent.
Access to credit is an important foundational need when planning your finances.
Start with Enough Cash
Be aware that some places still operate very much with cash only, so check before you go to a new location, and bring enough cash with you for the first part of your stay.
In Panama, I paid my rent each month by taking cash to my landlord’s bank and depositing it into his account! This was a new experience for me, for sure.
Later, when we bought our car, we literally took a brown paper bag full of cash from the bank to the owner we were buying the car from! While it felt thrilling to us, it was routine enough that the teller at the bank simply handed us the bag after counting out our cash withdrawal.
Before you go, find out as much as you can about where you’ll be able to use a debit or credit card, and where you’ll need cash. You can’t take more than $10,000 cash out of the US at one time without triggering all sorts of alarms.
Get a VPN
There are plenty of reasons to use a VPN (virtual private network) when you’re away from your home or office wifi, but when you’re living or traveling overseas, you absolutely need one.
A VPN can make the difference between using your online banking or being blocked from using it.
Here’s some basic information about VPNs, and some recommendations.
Tips & Tools
Four in Europe, three in South America, and one in Asia.
This content creator tells you about eight affordable cities where you can live well and run your online business. He’s picked them based on:
- fast internet
- a low cost of living
- ease of doing business
- his own personal experience
He was a digital nomad in. . . 1983???
Steve Roberts was a freelance writer and corporate consultant, and 10 years before the world wide web was a thing, he turned his recumbent bicycle into a mobile office. (Heck, I didn’t even know they had recumbent bikes that long ago!)
Curious about how he pulled it off?
Do you suffer from the Mere Urgency Bias?
Most of us do. It’s what drives us to neglect our really important work in favor of spending our time on tasks that seem to be urgent.
Becky Kane defines the Mere Urgency Bias as:
our tendency to prioritize urgent tasks over non-urgent tasks even when the non-urgent tasks provide greater rewards. . . In other words, urgency trumps importance every single time.
If that’s a problem for you, take some steps to change it.
- Prioritize your tasks
- Set aside time every day during your most productive hours for your most important work
- Embrace asynchronous communication (personally, I LOVE it!)
Read: The Mere Urgency Effect
Do you ever get tired of typing the same sequence of words or phrases over and over?
For example, if I’m writing a post about social media, after about the fourth time I type that phrase I’m thinking OMG, I wish there were an easier way. . .
Well, there is.
It’s atext Text Automation, available for Windows and Mac.
Simply set up an abbreviation for a word or phrase you type frequently, and atext will handle the rest.
So, for example, instead of typing social media, I type socmed and it magically transforms.
In Case You Missed It. . .
A few days ago I had some errands to run. It was time to pay for cable, internet and cell phone and we needed groceries.
We also needed to replenish our cash reserves at the trusty ATM.
The cab dropped us off next to our preferred bank’s ATM, and my husband whipped out his card and stepped up to the machine. He punched all the buttons, waited and . . . nothing. Nada. Zip. No message on the screen, just back to the usual “welcome” setting.
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