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How to Exchange Foreign Currency When Travelling Abroad

How to Exchange Foreign Currency When Travelling Abroad

After living in a foreign country for almost three years, I’ve learned a few things about how to exchange foreign currency. Let’s take a look at the best ways to prepare for travelling abroad so that you get the most for your money.

When you are planning a trip abroad, it’s exciting to book hotel rooms, plan your flight, and look at which tourist destinations you’ll get to see. However, before you start all of your planning, it’s important to consider how you will acquire the foreign currency that’s used at your destination. Prior to the onset of technology, many people simply used traveller’s checks, but today there are numerous ways that you can get foreign currency to spend during your travels around the world.

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Exchange it At Your Local Bank

If you want to have foreign currency before you fly to your destination, you can always buy it at your local bank. If you use this method, it’s important to use a bank that you already have an account with. This will potentially help lower your fees, although you will likely get an exchange rate that’s in the bank’s favor, not yours. Anything is better than exchanging money at the kiosks located around the airport, however, as they have the absolute worst exchange rates. It’s far better to plan before you go!

Buy Foreign Currency Online

Did you know that you can actually get foreign currency shipped to your house before you fly? Websites like ezforex.com sell it, and they are becoming extremely popular for their low rates and their convenience. You can also purchase it online at Wells Fargo. All you have to do is enter in how much money you want to exchange, pay, and sit and wait for the package to be shipped to your house. One word of warning though: make sure you’re home to receive your mail if you are expecting a package full of currency. Bonus Tip: If you spend $1,000 US on foreign currency at Wells Fargo, they will ship for free. That means more savings for you!

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Use a Credit Card

Many credit cards automatically calculate exchange rates for you, and you can use them wherever major credit cards are accepted. The smartest way to utilize this tip is to get a credit card that waives all foreign transaction fees, otherwise, you could be paying more than 3% on every purchase! That can definitely be an unwanted surprise when you open your credit card bill after a nice, long vacation. So, to avoid that, here are some ideas for cards that you can get: Capital One regularly waives foreign transaction fees, and Bank of America, American Express, Citi, and Chase also offer cards with waived foreign fees. Just make sure to read the fine print when applying for one of these cards to be sure that it does in fact waive these fees, as many companies offer a variety of different cards.

Withdraw it From an ATM

Many banks, like Charles Schwab, allow you to withdraw cash from any ATM in the world without charging you a fee. This is a great way to get the cash you need immediately in a currency form that’s compatible to your destination, and is perhaps the most convenient way to get money when traveling so that you have cash on hand for quick snacks or taxi rides. You can also call your bank and have your daily withdrawal limit raised if you need to make a big purchase. Bank of America also allows you to withdraw cash without a fee as long as you are at an affiliated bank, whereas Charles Schwab allows you to use any ATM and still get their perks.

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Use Travelers Checks

As previously stated, travelers checks are mostly antiquated and might not be accepted everywhere you go. They are, however, a good, safe backup if anything happens to your other funding sources, and you can get them from any local bank.

Know Your Exchange Rates

At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do when travelling abroad is to do your research and know your exchange rates. That way, if all else fails and you are unable to exchange your money before travelling abroad, you will be knowledgeable enough to bargain with foreign banks, taxi drivers, and currency exchange booths to get the rate your deserve.

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Have you ever travelled abroad? What type of currency did you use? How did you use it?

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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