Over the years, I have witnessed many expat workers come and go from the Middle East especially here in Dubai, UAE. I noticed a common thread connected the majority of these workers, most left the UAE as broke as the day they arrived because maybe they were not able to maximize saving potentials while working. However, this story does not end with overseas foreign workers in the Middle East it applies to those working in the US, Europe, UK, Asia and further afield.
Before you embarked on the journey of becoming an expatriate worker there must have been a clear motivation for why you were prepared to make so many sacrifices by leaving your homeland, family and friends to endure hardship yourself.
No matter what level your career, be it a laborer, skilled engineer, nurse, accountant to senior management you will experience hardships while working overseas.
Moreover, so will your family experience hardships because their loved one is thousands of miles away from home and cannot always communicate effectively due to time zone differences.
It is of the utmost importance this adventure needs to work out for you and your family.
1. How to save money as an expatriate working overseas
It is important to manage your own expectation and your family’s expectation. It is easy to become overwhelmed with your newfound income but remember why you are here. You are here to save as much money as you possibly can. Your family does not need an elaborate lifestyle, as much as they would love to live that way. This is about saving and not spending.
It is incumbent on the expatriate worker to look to the future and how he or she can survive this experience when the adventure is over.
2. How can an expatriate worker invest his income
This is a critical component to your success. For most of us, a normal checking bank account does not attract any interest, making this possibly the worst option for making your income grow. However, many banks offer a dedicated stock market investment scheme where you are in control of your own money.
I know this option sounds daunting but the bank will guide you through the process and if you are not reckless, this is a good option to increase a relatively small investment into a much larger sum of money in a short time. Be aware you can also lose your investment so take the banks advice seriously.
3. How to start a business and become an entrepreneur while working overseas
This option can be lucrative but will need careful consideration. Understand the business you are considering and whether you have the time and resources to make it work. You will need to undertake a feasibility study and produce a business plan. This is the key for any new business, so be realistic with your financial projections. Please do not attempt to start your business idea without completing these two key elements. If you are intending to operate your business in your home country while still working it is essential that you can trust the person operating your business on a daily basis.
There are several business ideas that you can choose from. We will be discussing that later on.
4. Expatriate workers need to be frugal
The expat does not think enough about several aspects when they take on their new position overseas. Most of us have family in our home country and they will need financial support. However, did you consider the cost of a bank transfer every month? Did you investigate the charges from Western Union?
Let me tell you these bank and money transfer charges add up over the years so you need to offset the charges by leading a simple life. You do not need to be drinking coffee at the mall on your rest days. Being financially prudent is a part of your life now if you are to achieve your ultimate goal of financial independence.
5. Delayed gratification is tremendously important
What do I mean by delayed gratification? I mean you and your loved ones can manage the way you live on a day-to-day basis. I am not saying your children need to live a life of poverty because they do not. What I am saying is do not splurge your cash on things you do not need. No one in your family will die if they cannot watch a flat-screen TV. You will not die by taking public transport to work every day. Why do expats buy cars overseas? Is it necessary? Think of your expenses, plot your expenses and understand what you need to live daily while saving the maximum amount from your salary.
6. The importance of financial literacy
Being financially literate does not mean you need to be a CPA. It means understanding your current financial situation and being able to plan. If you are not able to do this then you will join the inevitable spiral of living hand to mouth, and this is something you have desperately tried to avoid, hence your working overseas. Understand your financial commitments.
7. Retirement and returning home for good
This should always be at the forefront of our minds. Analyze the performance of your investments and change them if needed. Sometimes it is better to take the financial penalties than be stuck with a bad deal. Make sure you are investing in a pension plan that will deliver you a guaranteed income when the day comes for retirement.
When you become an expat for the first time, you should start planning for your retirement because you know that you as an expat will not stay for long in the country you’re working in. I believe in one particular quote by Michael Jordan “Just Do It.” The key here is taking action ASAP.
Most of us have decided to live and work in a foreign country for one reason. The reason is to earn more cash than we could by working in our home country. So make the most of the opportunity and never take your eye off the ultimate target, financial independence and security for our loved ones. Do not be pressured by family and friends to send money for frivolous luxuries, this is about your future. Make them understand it is about their future also. Avoid the pitfalls of so many overseas foreign workers, you do not need to be in the bar every weekend. Living a frugal life is not difficult and it is not demeaning to you. Just invest wisely and manage your expectations.
How do you manage your money? Please share with us below.
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