We’re finally in travel season.
The last thing you want now amongst your wanderlust is a hard hit to your wallet. But a simple trip to the doctor’s office in a foreign country can eat away multiple paycheques.
Whether you’re an ex-pat for work or a perpetual avid lover of travel (and even if you’re a snowbird), there’s small steps you can take to always ensure your money is always traveling with you…
If you’re an expat
Always file a report with the government. In other words, just let them know. It’s important so they can establish a timeline of your departure. File the report, avoid future fines. Reason enough.
What to do while you’re away:
⦁ Open bank accounts
⦁ Keep your investments in those accounts
What to remember:
⦁ If you wire in more than $10,000, banks are legally required to disclose the info to the CRA
⦁ You’re required to report assets in excess of $100,000 on your income tax return (you don’t get taxed, they just want to be aware).
⦁ Let them know you’ve returned: Seems simple, but forgetting to do this means you’re not considered Canadian and unable to contribute to certain accounts, like a TFSA. And if you do, contribute without notifying, those funds will meet an unwelcoming fine.
If you’re an avid traveler
⦁ Before you go, look at the banking relationships between your native country and the one you’re traveling to. This will help ensure you don’t run into issues with ATMs and withdrawing funds from your account(s).
⦁ Always have US dollars with you – it’s one of the most readily transferable currencies
⦁ Keep half your money denominated in local currency
⦁ Buy local currency at a favourable rate as much as you can from your local bank
⦁ Have expense prepaid or predebited so you don’t have to worry
⦁ Arrange money to be deposited into a US dollars account from your investment portfolio
⦁ This allows you to take debit cards in US currency
This strategy is a lot easier on your money given the current exchange rate. If you can minimize exchange costs, you’re ahead of the game. Everytime you exchange you can lose 2-5% of your dollar; that adds up to a big loss over time. Example: Exchange $5000 at a time and say hello to a 5% hit on your debit or credit card.
If you’re a snowbird
Most people who travel often, have a balanced portfolio already on auto-pilot. If this is you and your investments aren’t steady, stop what you’re doing and consult a professional first. If you’re in the clear there, you’re likely set up for a vacation that never worries about nickels & pennies.
Your biggest concern should be your health insurance. Health care in another country can be completely devastating to your wallet.
Make sure to:
Compare various health insurance options to see which fits best for your lifestyle
Find the best policy
Once you’re happy with an option, make a purchase as soon as possible and remember to keep all proofs of purchase + always keep a copy on you at all times while traveling.
Understand the country where you’re headed
Do some research and understand the basics around health care and legalities in the country you’re visiting
Start off healthy
In case of any accident or illness while traveling, starting off with a clean bill of health is one of your best lines of defense to staying healthy and wealthy.