Financial planning for expats and a digital nomad lifestyle can be challenging without the proper guidance. We've interviewed Shlomo Freund, a serial entrepreneur for 15+ years, who focuses on helping expats and digital nomads eliminate money as a source of stress and gain confidence in their future finances, to help us on our journey to financial freedom.
Steps on Financial Planning for Expats
As a financial expert who’s managed and owned several companies (AppInChina) and seen the specific financial challenges faced by expats, I now combine my expertise and lifestyle.
I’ve traveled to 32 countries so far and used to live in China for 3 years as an expat. We are location independent family, we go 1-2 times a year for 2-3 months workations. We are based in Israel when we don’t travel, and live in a yurt. We have a 3-year-old daughter whom we homeschool.
So when we travel, we like to go local. Travel slowly, get to know the place and the people. For us it’s all about the experience and not about checking off touristy sightseeing points (and besides, sometimes these are really expensive…)
What inspired you to focus on the expat and digital nomad community?
When you are an entrepreneur, you realize that you can best serve people like you. I’m location independent and like to travel and have different new experiences. It’s also a matter of choice. I like working with like-minded people.
At the beginning my company was not focused specifically on expats, but then one day I had a light-bulb moment when I realized 95% of my clients were expats. It was time to narrow down my audience….
What have you noticed that expats and nomads aren’t doing to plan for retirement?
This problem is very common, and it’s not only for expats and nomads. People, in general, don’t plan and definitely don’t think about retirement.
I personally think that retirement is an old term. It’s less and less common for people to retire at a certain age and then do nothing.
A better definition of retirement is the time in life where you are free to really choose what to do in your day-to-day life.
Entrepreneurs like me will probably always continue working, but without the stress of money.
What are the top 3 things expats and nomads should prepare in their finances?
- Vision - Realize where you’d like to be personally in the years to come. Have your destination set. Set your life, lifestyle and financial goals.
- Track & adjust - Know where you are now and keep comparing to your vision. One of the best things to start that is by tracking how much you are worth monthly. I personally do that every month and publish public reports on my blog. I also recommend my clients to do the same.
- Invest - Your money can work for you. It’s a cliche, but it’s so true. The nice thing is that there are so many options out there that are accessible nowadays to help you grow your money.
What are these workations you take?
It’s basically combining work + vacation at the same time. We are talking about an extended vacation for a certain period of time while managing remote work from there. So, you get to see and experience places, but on the other hand you can still work and make money to support yourself and your travel.
Our family does it it 1-2 times a year for 2-3 months at a time, and we love this lifestyle. So far we have been in Thailand, Portugal and Sri Lanka.
What financial planning advice do you have for new digital nomads?
Usually, people who begin to be digital nomads don’t make a lot of money to support themselves. What’s important that even with the little that you make, keep thinking of how you save and invest it, so your money can grow for you while you travel.
How much money would you advise in savings before venturing off as a digital nomad?
This is a really hard question to answer as it’s very individual. But what will help you get the right answer for YOU is going through the stages I spoke about earlier. I have a whole roadmap going through this process with people. It’s hard work, but very rewarding at the end of the day.
What is the best way to manage finances while living abroad, on a tax perspective?
Check your tax liabilities. Every country has different rules and every income stream can be taxed in a different country, depends on where you live, for how long, and where that income stream was generate.
What are some suggested financial planning apps people can use while abroad?
I love Revolut. It’s the ultimate money card for travelers. Most of the time you don’t pay any fees for exchanging your currency and you get market rates for exchange.
Some countries have their own version of Uber. As an example in Sri Lanka it’s Pickme (mostly for Tuk Tuks). It was the cheapest and best way to ride there. So, find out what’s the local version of Uber and use it-- it might be the best option out there.
The last thing, always get the local SIM card. It’s usually the cheapest option.
Where do you plan on venturing off to on your next workation or travel?
Our next spot is a long bicycle trip in Europe in August - September. And I hope to take my daughter on her first Ski trip in the next winter. She will turn 4, and it’s the perfect time to start teaching her how to ski. I’m interested in teaching her all these kind of cool sports before she is too old to be afraid to try them out.
Follow along Shlomo's journey and great tips on financial planning as an expat or digital nomad,.
What are some questions you have for Shlomo? Write them in the comments.