Guest Post: Kirsty Lamont, money expert at Mozo, shares her tips to help long distance avoid common financial traps.
Between spending anniversaries apart and having to skip date nights, every long distance relationship has its own struggles. And if recent Mozo research is anything to go by, financial compatibility is crucial, even for couples on opposite sides of the globe.
Our financial dealbreakers report found that colossal debt, a lack of financial independence and poor budgeting skills were among the biggest deal breakers.
So to keep the love alive, here are three money saving tips for financially surviving a long distance relationship.
Tip #1 – Be tech savvy
Every couple knows that communication is essential for any relationship, but with some networks charging up to almost $1 a minute for international phone calls and 50c per text, sparks may soon start to fizzle.
Thanks to instant messaging apps like WhatsApp or Viber, you can say goodbye to monthly bill shock. These apps are free to download and you’ll be able to send messages, videos, images and best of all, call each other for free. Just be sure to stay within range of the WiFi during the call, because there’s no worse feeling than checking your phone bill only to discover you dropped out of range and were charged for a two hour international phone call.
Having a set time where you’ll both be home and hooked up to the WiFi will keep you from using your phone’s data to call and save you a few bucks on your bill. Plus, it’ll give you something to look forward to everyday.
Tip #2 – Make travel collaborative
One tactic many long distance couples like to do is visit each other in turns. While it’s a great way to get a hands on experience into your partner’s world, if you’re using your credit card to pay for plane tickets and other travel expenses, you may wind up with a stack of debt that could take years to repay.
One way to avoid mounting credit card debt is to open a joint savings account, where you both can make regular deposits to put toward seeing each other. Start off by deciding how many times a year you plan to meet and where and do a quick estimate of the cost. Then decide on how much you’ll both be able to contribute to the account and how often.
Tip #3 – Dump the money wasters, keep the memories
If there’s one thing every long distance couple tells you, it’s that being spontaneous goes a long way in keeping the romance alive. But if your idea of living in the moment is a surprise visit, then it could see you forking out hundreds of dollars a year on travel insurance. Rather than purchase a policy for each individual trip, get smart with your cash and opt for an annual travel insurance policy. With an annual multi-trip policy you get to choose the number of consecutive days of travel from 15 to 60 days and unlike single trip insurance where cover is limited to the countries listed in the policy, you’ll have worldwide cover so you can meet up wherever takes your fancy.
One of the biggest gripes we often hear here at Mozo from long distance couples are the high overseas bank fees that come with the convenience of being able to use their Aussie ATM card wherever they travel. The good news is that you no longer have to get slugged with $5 a pop overseas ATM fees and foreign exchange fees on every transaction. Many of Australia’s challenger banks like ING, UBank, Citi and HSBC have dropped overseas ATM and purchase fees on their debit cards, which means more fun money to spend on you and your partner.
Sky high international postage rates are another massive money waster so if you’re planning on shopping for a birthday, anniversary or a Christmas gift, rather than buy it yourself and ship it around the world, why not take a virtual shopping trip together? Get your partner to take snaps around their favorite stores and you get to pick out the gift. And when it comes to transferring money in the cheapest way, use an IMT specialist, like WorldFirst, that has competitive exchange rates and doesn’t charge hefty fees, helping you to save big bucks.