I had to make an unplanned visit to the bank recently because of some unplanned expenses …an emergency hospitalization of a family remember … so far so good, I’ll report more on that later when things are resolved.
Anyway, even though my waiting time was brief, and the Peso/Dollar rate has been moving favorably of late, it gave me time to think about how I ought to give a blow-by-blow of how I personally mange our money here in the Philippines.
As soon as I publicize something like this, people are going to be tempted to write in and tell me what I am doing wrong. Well, I enjoy receiving comments, but don’t waste your breath on right or wrong … this works for me. For others? YMMV.
Anyway, the basics of it all is that our income comes from two distinct sources. I have several government annuities (pensions). people always tell me I’m lucky about that. I suppose I am. I only had to invest almost 40 years (28 of them wearing a uniform and carrying a gun), so those of you who have green eyes, feel free to follow in my steps, last I heard the US military is still hiring.
I also receive payments for my online enterprises. Some of these go direct to my PayPal account … I’ll talk about PayPal in a separate article), most of the others I have direct depositing into my checking account. get rid of as many pieces of paper, especially paper checks, to the maximum degree you can before you move. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
I maintain a bank account (more than one, actually) in the US. I inquired before I let if my banking institution would be OK with foreign residency, and the answer was yes, sure. If yours won’t give you this answer, find another. Life’s too short to put up with sh*t. I’ve had people tell me they couldn’t move to the Philippines because their bank won’t keep them as customers if they move overseas. I say, fire the fools then … they’re a bank, not a spouse … you didn’t take a vow about death us do part with your bank … there are many others out there to chose from.
Actually, I don’t use a bank. Wouldn’t use a US bank these days, they seem to be run by scoundrels or incompetents (sometimes one and the same). I use a Federal Credit Union. It’s like a bank but they are more heavily regulated and they are member owned, not traded on Wall Street.
Mine is Security Service FCU, out of San Antonio, there are many good ones to chose from and the majority of folks can find a way to qualify for membership if they take the time to search.
Anyway. Keep it simple, Dave. Most of my monthly income deposits directly in my US credit union account. I can view and manage my money there 24-7 via their online banking service. I can schedule automatic payment to any recipient, business or private individual in the US with their free bill pay service. So this pretty much covers my US money management.
Of course I live here in the Philippines, not in the US … so the majority of my money management is conducted here.
There are many ways to move money from a bank in the US to the Philippines. All of them cost something and all have their advantages/disadvantages. The method I choose to use is a check from my US checking account, deposited into my Philippine US dollar account. This is essentially free, but when I said everything costs something I wasn’t mistaken … the cost here is time. My Philippine bank (BDO) holds the funds from that check for about 25 days. So every month I deposit a US dollar check that should cover what I plan to spend the following month.
Every month the check I deposited last month has matured and is available for me to draw out. Typically, I only go to the bank once each month. I deposit my check from the US for next month’s expenses, withdraw dollars from my dollar account, have the bank convert to Philippine Pesos on the spot and deposit the Pesos in my Philippine BDO savings account.
The big thing which has changed in these past four years for me in the Philippines has been the actual handling of money … moving from almost all physical transactions. That meant getting physically large stacks of Pesos each month, carrying them to my landlord, to the electric company, the cable TV company, my ISP, my Philippine credit card payment center, etc., etc. What a pain. Long lines. Risk and inconvenience of carrying cash around, keeping cash at home and so forth.
Today when I do my beginning of the month banking session I rarely even take any cash away with me. It all goers into the Peso account. If I need walking around cash in my pocket I use my BDO debit card at an ATM machine and take out pesos a few thousand at a time (I can get up to P25,000 per day, but rarely want cash like that on me).
The cable TV I have to still pay in cash at a local bayad (bill pay) center that’s in easy walking distance of the house.
Everything else I can now pay with my excellent BDO Online banking service … in many ways it’s even more flexible than my US online service.
All purchase in stores that accept plastic … like SM Hypermarket where we buy most of our food down to salads an a burger for lunch from Wendy’s, which I sometimes bring home from my mall walking, I can use my BDO credit card (and earn bonus points along the way),
The credit card, along with the electric bill and the ISP monthly bill are paid, for the amount I specify and on the date I select, directly out of my BDO savings account. All for free. The difference in control and reduction of ‘hassle factor’ in the past 4 years is amazing.
Oh yes, the landlord? Well I ‘fired him’. Took out a bank loan and bought the house we have been renting … and the monthly loan payment? Well that comes directly out of the bank account, automatically for free as well.
So you do still have to pay your bills here in the Philippines, but it is one heck of a lot easier than it used to be. I’m a happy camper.