Sorting Out Your Finances At Home Whilst Being Abroad

Sorting out your finances at home whilst being abroad can be a real challenge particularly if you are going overseas for a while, say globe trotting or on secondment.


When I seconded abroad I initially went to work in Saudi Arabia for 5 months, this eventually turned into 17 months. Either way I had to make plans to cover my financial commitments at home.


I was single at the time and had bought a house so had bills to pay. I was fortunate enough to have a close friend who I trusted and gave them power of attorney over some of my financial affairs. You can assign power of attorney to someone to look after your monetary affairs in your absence and it is just like they are you in their dealings with financial institutions. I must insist though that you have to completely trust them, after all it is your money they are looking after. Seek legal advice if you need to learn more about this, or if you are in the UK speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau.


If you have a partner or family member it maybe easier for you to choose them to be the people responsible to manage your bills at home.


Power of attorney is maybe something most people are not prepared to do for obvious reasons and it can be legally complicated. Thankfully in this modern technology based world there are plenty of other methods available.


Bank Notes

Bank notes


I registered for most of my bills to be paid by direct debit/standing order. In that way I knew many of my bills would be paid automatically and wouldn’t ever be late.


Since my secondment the use of online billing has advanced even further. In this way I can log in at any time and see how my bills such as mobile telephone, credit cards etc are accruing.


Online banking has also developed significantly and I struggle to think of a UK bank who don’t offer online banking facilities for current and savings accounts. Not only can I pay bills and one-off expenses online but I can also move my savings around quickly and easily.


In the late 1990′s I had to load up a CD to my computer and dial-up to do my banking; since then web-based interfaces are all the rage so I can manage my bank from almost any computer with internet access.


If internet access fails there is also the trusty telephone banking. This might cost a little bit in international phone calls but at least you can pay that all important bill. With the advancement of Skype and the potential to reverse the charges then you might be able to avoid high call costs.


If like me you were fortunate enough to have an overseas secondment you may have the benefit of an inflated salary and living costs paid for. This is a prime opportunity to make some savings so don’t forget to sort out your cash ISA before you go abroad. You can lock in a good tax free rate so that you’ll have the benefit of increased savings when you return home.


Some other things to think about include insurance. Not only should you have travel/medical insurance for your travels. You may also want to think about putting your home (and maybe car) on auto renewal for your insurance.


As an extra point about your car, if you are from the UK you may want to consider making a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) to the DVLA. This means your car is off the road for the entire time of the notification and you don’t have to pay road tax.


Other things to consider are the length of time you’ll be abroad. If it will be for an extended period of time then I’d recommend that you discuss the impact with your national revenue bureau. Tax rules change all the time and you might be pleasantly surprised to find that you’ll reduce your tax bills.


So they are some of my tips, how are you sorting out your finances at home whilst being abroad?






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  1. Great Post! I lived in Bolivia for a year and then in Mexico for 6 years. It was a challenge to keep everything tied together back in the states. You have some great info

  2. Even more great tips here. Yes, being able to pay almost anything on-line and by mobile phone aps makes it much easier when traveling or abroad. I would also think payments could be set up in advance too.

    • Many thanks again Phil. The internet has revolutionised many things for us and it certainly makes travelling a lot easier for us.

  3. I haven’t quite spent as much time abroad as you, but definitely see how your tips can be useful. Home affairs are an often overlooked area of traveling, or being abroad. Although technology has revolutionized communication, there are still some things that are just better handled in person. As you mention, I think that it is a good idea to have someone at home who you can trust with all of your personals, not just finances. Also, having your back-up information on hand for emergencies.

    P.S. I am ashamed to admit that I had to look up the definition for a secondment… #notbritish

    • That is a good point about having your back up information handy Andy. Along with travel insurance details I think you need your bank/credit card details so you can contact them immediately if anything is lost/stolen.

      That is an interesting point about secondment, I thought it was a universal term. What do you use in the US? Overseas placement?

      • It might be a universal term. I just haven’t heard it here. Most common use for such a position in the US is expat. (Thanks slang!)

        Perhaps, secondment is the formal name though, I’m not sure.

        • Thanks for explaining Andy. As I said here thongs all wrong some things just don’t translate. Would the term internship/placement also apply?

          • The term internship is commonly used in the US. In some places and professions, the term Co-op, is used instead. This is typically someone in a technical field, such as engineering. A co-op is a full-time break from school, for work experience in your field. Internships are quite common, but typically only for students.

  4. Good tips! Online banking certainly makes dealing with finances easier while traveling. I remember traveling in the days before online banking with my family. My mom had an ATM in France eat her credit card. You had to call the bank during their hours in the US and she waited days before she could get her card back. Certainly seems like it is easier these days.

    • Hey Suzy, the dreaded hungry ATM! I remember those days, it was a nightmare. American Express made a big marketing campaign at the time promising to get money to you on the same day no matter where you were in the world.

  5. We are in the process of sorting out our finances for when we leave the UK in a few weeks’ time to travel indefinitely. It’s such a tedious and long-winded task! Not only have we had to get new zero charge credit and debit cards to use abroad but we’re now moving all our savings from separate high interest accounts (regular savers and ISAs) into one which we can easily access online while we travel. Tax is also something to think about; we have to fill in a p85 and send it, along with our p45s, to the UK tax office to get any over-payments back when we leave. Nothing is ever simple!

    • You are right Amy, nothing is simple. It sounds as though you are well organised though and should have peace of mind when you leave.

  6. HI! Still blogging? I wanted to let you know we finally did a blogroll update and I put this blog on there. Go to our blog and click on “Blogs that We read” it is under the Personal/Miscellaneous section. If you have any other blogs, let us know.

    • Hi Matt, always great to see you :-) Many thanks for adding me; any chance you could classify me as a travel blog please? I’m happy to add your great site to my Links page. Feel free to check it out and all the other great sites I follow regularly.

  7. 1) HMRC
    2) Student loan repayments

    Ugh. And even when I give them permission for my mum to deal with urgent stuff, they still don’t allow it! So frustrating…

    But some good tips here for everything!

    • Sorry to hear that. A legal document of authority should mean they can speak to almost anyone on your behalf. Mind you’d never want to upset HMRC.

  8. Online banking has certainly made things easier, but I’m finding as banks tighten up their security it is another annoyance to deal with their code generating password devices and the like. Someone needs to make an expat bank!

    • Good points Andrea. I don’t like the idea of carrying around these ID gadget devices either, not really very conducive for travel are they? Internet banking should be just that, the ability to bank on the internet from anywhere, with just an internet connection.

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