Financial Planning Advice for a Financially Clueless Expat
November 5, 2013 7:12 AM Subscribe
I am a 29 year old American expat, living and working abroad in BRICs for nearly 6 years now, who needs help in getting my financial act together. Due to limitations of my company- I have not been able to contribute to a 401(k) for at least five years now, and in the last few years my salary has exceeded $135k/year, so I can't even contribute to a Roth IRA. As far as I can understand, there isn't really anything more in the basic United States system for retirement that I can take advantage of… so now what? Am I really on my own now? Are there any websites with info geared towards this? Or should I get a financial/wealth planner? Or an "expat" tax accountant? Or both? How do I even start to find one? I have no idea what to look for!
posted by anonymous to work & money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I studied at an engineering school, and as one can stereotypically assume had a very narrow range of studies- I never took ANY basic accounting or finance courses so am financially clueless. I come from a working class non-native English speaking family background, so my parents are clueless when it comes to investment and are stubbornly cash-only people.
Even with that, thanks to being a cheapskate in my early years out of college:
- $0 student loans
- $0 car loans; I don't have a car
- $0 credit card debit
- $300k left to payoff on a $400k mortgage; interest rate at 4.9%
- ~ $200,000 in low index mutual funds with Vanguard. Around 85% in stocks and the rest in low risk investments <-- based off of the internet, this has been strategy for now but there has to be something more than just throwing EVERYTHING here
- ~$50k in savings as emergency funds
In the past two years, I've started to be able to enjoy spending money rather than being stressed out over it- vacationing in Four Season hotel suites, upgrading from $60 H&M winter coats to $1000 quality long-lasting luxury branded ones- but I am still obsessed with saving. Even with that, after taxes, expenses, and fun money, I save around $80k per year. My dream goal, whether it is relevant or not, is to be able to retire by age 55. But that's a flexible, not firm goal. Also, at some point within the next 5 years, to be able to put a downpayment on a $1 million house or apartment.
Basically, I don't have a network of other American expats living abroad, so have been limited to searching for advise and help to the internet. The websites I have been looking at have very generic information (www.20sfinances.com, www.getrichslowly.com). Does this mean I have to bite the bullet and hire someone or a company rather than trying to manage myself blindly?
* Also, if it is to hire a financial planner, how do people find one? Do you just roll-up to your local bank? I now live in Russia, so besides the language issue and probable lack of understanding of US laws and such, the only way would just be to drop by a random local bank the next time I am visiting my parents in my hometown (it's Hawaii so there aren't really many choices as far as I know. There is no Bank of America anymore, no HSBC).