Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tuesday Topic: Financial practicalities


Erin has another good question: "What are tips on converting money in a way that won't get you in trouble or cheated?" And I add a little more to that on my own: How do you handle getting money to you? bank transfers? ATMs? etc....

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

11 comments:

  1. I'll start with a random cultural note: my mother (in America) taught me not to show cash around, especially when traveling. In this part of the world, it's normal to do just the opposite; people sit out in the open and count huge wads of cash, and they don't seem to have anything against looking right over your shoulder at bank machines.

    Changing money: we don't do it very often, but when we did, we would just go to the market and change with one of the guys standing around there. We recognized all of them. In a small town, they don't cheat. It would put them out of business. :-) Obviously, that's very limited, and it would be different just about anywhere else. I guess the general tip to draw out of that could be do it in a standard, recognized way?

    Probably the most practical overseas financial tip we've ever gotten was to open an account with Charles Schwab bank. They don't charge international ATM fees, and if you get charged, they reimburse it. That's how we do all our financial stuff now. Our money is deposited in America, and we withdraw through ATMs here. In our early days, we carried cash over, or asked others to do that for us. (That was a long time ago!) Local bank accounts are also a good option.

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    1. That's great information! I love the no-international-fee part! Thanks!

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  2. Wow, Phyllis! We might have to check out the Charles Schwab bank. We withdraw as little cash as possible and use credit cards, paying it off at the end of each month. The fees end up being less than an ATM withdrawal. There was still a fee involved until last year, when Bank of America started a new International Travellers visa card. We use that now at no extra charge.

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  3. When we need to get money, there are ATM's here so our pay is direct deposited to our bank acct in the states and through trial and error we found a bank here where we are not charged any fees to use their ATM's. If family or friends want to give us money for Christmas/birthdays, they mail it to our bank. As for exchanging money, we have found that the best ways to avoid being cheated are to be friendly and take time to engage them in conversation, which is much appreciated in this culture and eventually a relationship is built and then there is trust. Once a woman tried to cheat me and I caught her and I could tell by her expression that she knew that I was on to her, and I made a decision on the spot to let her have the small amount of money and smile and tell her to have a nice day. She never tried to cheat me again and was always friendly after that. Maybe it was a test or maybe she just needed it that day and was hoping I would help.

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    1. That's good to know! Do you link the international bank to your states bank?

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  4. I agree with the advice on Charles Schwab! We have been with them for years - both in the states and abroad. Great service when living internationally.

    We also have a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees; however, watch at what rate they are converting your local currency into dollars. Sometimes, instead of charging a percentage of what you purchase, they put the conversion strongly in their favor.

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    1. I'm so glad you told me that! I definitely will keep an eye on currency rates.

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  5. we withdraw money from ATMs. We use a credit union in the states that reimburses the ATM fees. We also now have a Capital One venture card that has no overseas transaction fees, so we do that when we can. Costa Rica has a pretty steady conversion between colones and USD so we don't have to worry too much about this. Oh, the other thing we hit on was a paypal account. When family members want to send money for presents etc they can just sent it through our paypal account and we can then transfer it right to our credit union stateside!

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    1. This is great advice, thank you!

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  6. When we moved overseas, we did a wire transfer to a local bank. The cost for a rather large lump sum was only $40. We then withdraw cash as needed up to $1000 per day for no fee. Between that and a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, we hardly pay any fees. We plan to do the wire transfer once per year, with enough cash to last for the upcoming year. $40/annually doesn't add up to much compared to the ATM fees we would otherwise pay (no no-fee ATMs here).

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  7. There aren't no-fee ATMs here either, but--amazingly!--Schwab Bank pays them back to us. That's why it's so incredible. I'm not advertising for them, of course, but I just have to share, because it's been such a good thing for us.

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