Financial planning resources for U.S. expatriates?
April 29, 2007 7:44 PM   Subscribe

What are some good resources to help an expatriate plan for retirement?

I anticipate spending most of my life living outside of my country of citizenship (the United States), specifically in Japan. I'm reaching the point where I need to begin thinking about financial planning, particularly saving for retirement. I'm aware of how to do this if I were resident in the U.S.; however, I'm very unclear on the particulars of doing so as an expatriate. Much of what little I have found on the Internet or in books is grossly out of date or vague.

Can you recommend any books (websites are also okay, but I'd prefer something something well-written and well-sourced) intended for expatriate Americans who want to begin saving for their retirement? First-hand advice or experience would also be welcomed. I realize that I should talk to a financial planner, but at the moment that's putting the cart before the horse; I just want some general advice on my somewhat unique situation.

(FYI: I have read this recent thread as well as many others in the archives. I am not interested in advice about living abroad, only managing my finances and planning for the future while in a foreign country. Personal inquiries or off-topic comments are welcomed via email. Thanks in advance.)
posted by armage to Work & Money (1 answer total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The U.S. Social Security Administration has information about their international programs, including reciprocal agreements with 19 countries including Japan, that you should read. The IRS has Web resources for individual international taxpayers, that may assist you with minimizing taxes, while creating U.S. retirement savings plans, such as IRA accounts, or other tax-deferred savings plans. But there are new and ongoing changes to earnings level qualifications since 2005, that you need to be aware of in planning for retirement savings vehicles. The third important leg of financial planning for retirement is health care planning; as an expat, you may need to plan for significant additional private insurance expense to cover yourself and your family, beyond the minimum benefits you may have from Japanese health insurance or U.S. Medicare, or a single debilitating illness could wipeout your retirement savings.

But assumptions guide any intelligent retirement planning, and other than saying you want to live in Japan for most of your life, you've given no information about your circumstances that would assist in making particular recommendations, in a world full of information at various levels. Here's a link to a financial planning meeting some English language speaker is trying to organize near Tokyo for late May. There are probably many similar meetings and private investment and savings clubs meeting regularly near you, if you look for them, and they can be excellent places to find other people, and share resources and strategies. That, and a private journal to help you organize your thoughts about retirement as a first step in your planning effort may be what you need most, at the moment.
posted by paulsc at 10:56 PM on April 29, 2007

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