One of the first questions I’m asked about when I tell about my location independent lifestyle has to do with money, and how to deal with it when you don’t have a home base. It’s a great question and it’s something that took a lot of research, and a lot of trial and error, before I came up with something that works for me.
What currency do you keep your money in?
At present, I only have UK bank accounts that operate in GBP, but I’m going to be changing this within a few weeks because this has been an absolutely horrible decision.
The nature of my work dictates that 90% of the time I am going to be paid in US dollars. Seeing as I couldn’t open a US bank account, I didn’t bother researching other options and assumed my exchange rates were at the mercy of Paypal, who charge pretty terrible rates.
When you take into account a lot of the countries I travel through, Cambodia, for example, allow you to withdraw money in US dollars, you’ll start to realise just how much money I’ve been losing from all of these currency conversions.
And so, I thought about setting up an offshore bank account. My Dad is a bank manager so it was quite easy to get all of the information I needed. Basically, I needed an account that would allow me to have a balance in multiple currencies — and I’d need to be able to withdraw the money from an ATM. This could be a possible option
How do I keep my money safe?
First of all, make sure that you leave with multiple debit and credit cards and store them in different places in your luggage. I keep different cards in my daypack, my backpack and my pocket. This way if anything goes wrong and you lose anything you should be able to at least get money out.
Secondly, use a VPN when banking online. As well as keeping your information safe this also helps prevent your bank and Paypal from blocking your card. Before I used a VPN, I would have to call my bank several times a month to ask them to unblock my cards.
Consider getting a money belt if you feel nervous carrying a lot of cash on your person. I always make sure to withdraw the maximum amount I can from ATMs to minimise fees, and you obviously don’t want to be walking around with $300 in your pocket. A money belt keeps your cash out of view and if, on the very, very rare occasion you were to be mugged you’d be able to show you had nothing in your pockets.
Those are the main points I wanted to make about digital nomads and financing. I would recommend doing a lot of research before you leave because opening new bank accounts is extremely tricky if you’re not in the country.
Do you have any money tips for digital nomads?