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The 5 Money Nightmares You Can Avoid While Traveling

The 5 Money Nightmares You Can Avoid While Traveling

I’ve been mugged, had my identity stolen and been ripped off overseas more times than I can count. For seasoned travellers these things are part of the job description. If you’re planning to go overseas or have found yourself in one of these situations, here’s how to tackle five money nightmares every traveller risks encountering – because no holiday should be cut short due to money misadventures.

Identity theft

A close friend had his identity stolen at an Australian airport. Had he of known where he threw his trash, it may have been different.

    source:picjumbo.com

    An English friend of mine arrived in Sydney to the news that a personal loan he’d taken out was maxed out. This is devastating news for anyone to hear, but it’s even worse when you never took out a personal loan to begin with. Turns out someone had stolen his identity from a plane ticket stub he had thrown in the airport bin.

    You always think identity theft won’t happen to you until it does – take extra precautions when you’re moving from place to place and dispose carefully of anything with your details on it. As it turns out, you need to know where your personal details are disposed of even in the relative safety of Australia, and though you don’t think about it initially the hardest part of identity theft isn’t regaining your identity but rather repairing it. Luckily, the Federal Trade Commission detail steps on retracing your alter ego.

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    Mugging

    Having cash on you is important when travelling. It’s also pretty important to thieves.

      source:picjumbo.com

      I was mugged in Amsterdam of all places, but luckily the thief only got away with 20 Euros. This is because I listened to the advice of a fellow, seasoned traveler: I split up my money and then sewed a pouch under my chest pocket to keep my passport, ID and credit cards safe. This is why listening to other travelers experiences is so vital – you can ensure the same thing doesn’t happen to you, and that your belongings remain yours.

      Credit card account hijacking

      You’ll be paying for some pretty crazy things while abroad – just make sure all your transactions are actually yours.

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        source:pixabay.com

        I had already been stung by some unexpected overseas fees and ATM withdrawal fees, but it was after a night out with friends abroad that I noticed some unusual transactions on my credit card (It was also then that I remembered the waitstaff staring at my card during payment multiple times that night).

        I didn’t waste any time – I called the bank and they reversed the charges immediately. This ease of reversing charges is one of the godsends of credit cards – If I’d been using a debit card it might not have been as quick a turn-around. In certain situations it always helps to be using credit as banks may be able to retrieve funds more quickly.

        Make sure your card is going to work with you when you travel and be mindful of how you’re spending on your credit card overseas.  In any case, your bank will tell you what you need to do the second something fishy appears on your statements.

        Getting stuck with no cash

        Cash is king, so make sure you always have access to it.

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          source:gratisphotography.com

          Everyone knows South-East Asia is the world capital of bartering prices, so I wanted to make sure I actually had cash to barter with. I went for a travel card with no foreign transaction fees, so I was only paying for money I was actually spending. Many travel money cards also let you lock in exchange rates, so you know how much cash you have to spend before you leave.

          Make sure you’ll be able to withdraw cash from ATMs in the country you’ll be visiting, otherwise your negotiation powers may not be that influential for very long. Oh, and for those of you with little negotiating skills, here’s a quick guide to get you up to speed.

          Getting ripped off when exchanging currencies

          You’re going to have to hand over cash this holiday, so make sure it’s to the best hands possible. 

            source:pixabay.com

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            Arriving in Heathrow airport for the first time and with no local currency, getting to an exchange service was my first priority. Spotting a foreign exchange stand in the airport, I couldn’t believe my luck – I wasn’t even in London yet. Once I was in London, however, I noticed that the exchange rates on offer outside of the cushy airport were much lower, with some being almost half the price. Like domestic travel, don’t just look for the quickest deals on services – get your money’s worth by looking for the best deal possible

            Just because you’re travelling, it doesn’t mean you should care less about prices. Give every financial decision the same weight you would as if you were making it at home.

             

            Traveling offers you no plenty of surprises, but they’re not all going to be free hotel room upgrades. Next time you travel be smart about your finances and savvy with your cash to avoid waking up in a scene from The Hangover.

            Featured photo credit: picjumbo.com via media.lifehack.org

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            Last Updated on September 2, 2020

            How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

            How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

            Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

            In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

            4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

            Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

            1. Be Clear About the Objectives

            Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

            It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

            Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

            2. Keep Goals Realistic

            It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

            It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

            3. Account for Inflation

            Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

            Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

            For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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            4. Short Term Vs Long Term

            Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

            As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

            By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

            How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

            Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

            • Ensuring healthy savings
            • Making smart investments

            You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

            Ensuring Healthy Savings

            Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

            This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

            1. Track Expenses

            The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

            Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

            If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

            2. Pay Yourself First

            Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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            Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

            The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

            Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

            3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

            Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

            Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

            At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

            Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

            You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

            4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

            In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

            Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

            • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
            • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
            • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

            The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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            5. Talk About It

            Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

            Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

            6. Maintain a Journal

            For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

            If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

            When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

            Making Smart Investments

            Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

            1. Consult a Financial Advisor

            Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

            Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

            2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

            Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

            Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

            As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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            3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

            Einstein once remarked about compounding:

            “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

            Use compound interest when setting financial goals

              Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

              Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

              4. Measure, Measure, Measure

              All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

              If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

              Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

              The Bottom Line

              Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

              and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

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              Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

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