Where do I start?

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Vacilando
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Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2007 8:58 pm
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Where do I start?

Postby Vacilando » Sun Apr 22, 2007 9:09 pm

Stats:

28 y/o
$80k in student loans (all US gov't loans except for $4k from a private lender - Citibank)
Living overseas (South Korea). All income in Korean won.
Just paid off one credit card. Have about $900 in credit card debt left on one other card.

I would like to start investing/saving for retirement this year.

I'm totally clueless about finances. I've read some books... umm... Soze Orman's "Young Fabulous and Broke" book, "Die Broke." They're all good, but I just don't know what the best strategies for investing and saving are as an overseas resident. I pay transfer fees anytime I send money to the U.S., which I have to do every month for credit cards and student loans. I have to pay to send as well as receive, which really sucks.

Any advice? What should I do to start educating myself?

Daisy
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Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:51 am
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Postby Daisy » Tue Apr 24, 2007 11:21 am

Can you set up a bank account in the US and just transfer money monthly? That way you could cut down on transfer fees.

Also, if you pay your SL's seperately, I'd consolidate right now. Rates are still pretty low, and that would keep the number of your payments (and transfer fees) down too.

I'd start with finding a way around the currency issue. That could eat your finances alive. Once you have an efficient way to get money into USD from KRW you can look into automatic savings from your USD account and stuff like that. Although if you're 28, retirement planning should probably get started soon too.

Good Luck!

Vacilando
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Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2007 8:58 pm
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Postby Vacilando » Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:15 pm

Thanks for the thoughts!

I've been wondering if I'd already missed the boat on locking in a low student loan interest rate by consolidating. I've also heard that it's better to be on an income contingent plan, instead of just the cheapest 20-year plan. Is that right?

I have a U.S. bank account (two actually), and transfer money every month. I've heard that a good way around the fees is to just get travellers cheques and mail them to your bank. If I ever get to the point where I'm a month or so AHEAD, then I plan to start doing that since it takes more time than wiring the money to myself.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy about almost having all my credit cards paid off, but it's frustrating not having a dime saved. I've been looking to get LASIK surgery and wanting to take a vacation this summer too, which would put me behind again right as I'm starting to get ahead... so I may have to nix the vacation at least, though my girlfriend will be disappointed.

I just found out about a "Seoul Investors" club that meets a couple times a month. I'm hoping to get involved with them too, as they will probably be able to teach me a lot about smart finances for expats.

Daisy
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Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:51 am
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Postby Daisy » Wed Apr 25, 2007 7:48 am

Rates are still pretty low for consolidation, I think. At least, I keep getting mailers about consolidating, even though I can't consolidate any further.

I had LASIK in 2001. Best thing I ever did, though I'd been wearing glasses, and thick ones at that, since kindergarten. I didn't have any money saved for it either, so I used my employers FSA to pay for it. It gave me a tax shelter and allowed me to pay for the surgery over time, since at that time I could take out the entire accrued account and replenish it through my paychecks. If you have any option like that, I would definitely recommend it.

Think through the travellers cheques thing. They have fees involved too, and if your account earns interest the time that the money is tied up on the cheques will cost you something as well.

squished18
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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:01 am
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Postby squished18 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:06 pm

Vacilando,

One of the most useful exercises I have known is for managing your personal finances is to track your spending. Track every dollar you spend. (I wouldn't worry too much about the cents.) You'll have to do this consistently for about a year before this generates a lot of value for you, but once you get to that point, it's very very helpful. Once you are in the habit of tracking this data, you'll be able to look at where your money is really going and then my bet is you'll find areas where you'll be able to make wise decisions to cut spending.

If this sounds like something you're up for doing, just continue to post on this thread and I'm sure there will be help on establishing your "system" for tracking your spending. This will likely need to be computer-based, but you have several choices as to which software to use.

cheers,
squished

squished18
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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:01 am
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Postby squished18 » Thu Apr 26, 2007 10:15 am

If you want to start tracking your spending, here's a recommendation from sparklerawk for PearBudget:

http://www.getrichslowly.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=50

CaseyM
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Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:43 am
Location: Seattle WA
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Postby CaseyM » Sat Apr 28, 2007 11:41 am

I'm not sure how this works with regards to transfers to other countries but I get mailers pretty regularly from companies offering me a credit card with 0% interest for a year on balance transfers. I'm not sure what the rules are for balance transfers but if you're paying fees every time you make a payment that's essentially money that could be going towards the payment that's going into a bank's (or at the very least, someone else's) pockets. You might be able to get a credit card or loan in South Korea and transfer the US credit card balance to that.

Kate
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Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:37 pm
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Postby Kate » Sat Apr 28, 2007 11:12 pm

I'd read some of Dave Ramsey's books, lots of good info there.


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