Online Methods to Keep Track of Your Finances While Living Overseas
By Peggy Creveling, CFA, and Chad Creveling, CFA
Once you've gotten your financial affairs in order after moving overseas—by limiting your number of financial accounts, getting a local credit card and opening an online brokerage account, among others—it's a good idea to set up ways to keep track of your finances online. They'll save you time and simplify the management of your finances, giving you more time to enjoy life as an expat. Here are six we recommend:
1. Have all account statements delivered online. Online delivery avoids wasted paper, makes changing addresses easier, and helps to avoid late bills and missed payments due to mail delays, especially during moves. Consider setting up a single email address to receive all of your household financial correspondence and notices. Also, be sure to maintain hard copies of the most recent financial statements, and keep them in a secure place. If hackers disable your financial institution's systems or you can't access your account, a copy of the latest statement is one way to prove what you own.
2. Use online bill pay. If your bank or other financial institution allows it, use the bill pay feature to automate recurring payments. This helps you avoid making late payments and makes it easier to stay on top of your bills. Even estimated U.S. tax payments to the IRS can be paid using the IRS Direct Pay online system.
3. Get a multi-currency personal financial software program. Purchase a multi-currency financial software program such as Quicken Deluxe to track your finances. This allows you to maintain and monitor all of your assets and liabilities in one place. Using the software to track your spending can also help you develop a financial plan and stay on course. Account values and asset prices can be set up to be automatically updated online.
4. Organize and store your financial records. Do this step with family documents too, not just financial records. Photocopy your key records, and store the originals in a fireproof safe at home or in a safe deposit box. You may also want to scan documents and maintain them on an encrypted portable drive, using free encryption software such as VeraCrypt. Another option is to store them online with a commercial encrypted document storage service, which would give you access to them from anywhere in the world.
5. Keep a photo inventory of your belongings. Use your cellphone or digital camera to make a record of all of your personal belongings. This record can be used for insurance purposes or when moving. You can store your photo inventory on your home computer and keep a copy on your encrypted portable drive along with other key documents.
6. For American taxpayers, request an IRS “account transcript” annually. If you’ve ever wondered if the IRS is keeping an accurate account of your tax payments, you can find out by requesting IRS account transcripts either by mail or online (if you have required verification information including a U.S. mobile phone). These statements can be used to verify tax payments or show how much the IRS thinks you still owe. Requesting and keeping annual copies of these statements can help you make sure you’ll have no problems from the IRS over the longer term.
What online methods do you use for keeping track of your finances? There are plenty more available, and new ones pop up often.
About Creveling & Creveling Private Wealth Advisory
Creveling & Creveling is a private wealth advisory firm specializing in helping expatriates living in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia build and preserve their wealth. The firm is a Registered Investment Adviser with the U.S. SEC and is licensed and regulated by the Thai SEC. Through a unique, integrated consulting approach, Creveling & Creveling is dedicated to helping clients cut through the financial intricacies of expat life, make better decisions with their money, and take the steps necessary to provide a more secure future.
Copyright © 2019 Creveling & Creveling Private Wealth Advisory, All rights reserved. The articles and writings are not recommendations or solicitations, and guest articles express the opinion of the author; which may or may not reflect the views of Creveling & Creveling.