These are just a few handy tips that have been useful for me when it comes to handling my money after retirement while I travel. Nothing more than common sense, but these ideas will help you keep things simpler and less stressful, which for me, has always meant better.
Pay all your bills on the same day
After you retire, it is probable that you will be receiving one check a month. Be it set withdrawals from your savings and investments, a pension payment, social security payments or an annuity of some sort. Why not simplify life and have as many of your bills as possible, due on the same day? That way you don’t have to remember to pay the electric bill on the 5th, the water bill on the 9th and your credit card on the 22nd. Just pick a day for paying everything, make the arrangements, and be done with it.
Utilize automatic online payment
Utilize automatic online payments to pay your bills and, at least, the minimum charges on your credit cards. Just don’t forget to scrutinize and review your automatic charges just as you would the ones you make by hand. Mistakes don’t happen often, but they do happen and the last thing you want to do is to have to go through several months’ worth of statements to find an error.
Sign up for paperless bills
It cuts down on clutter and it is good for the environment. Just don’t forget to review your paperless transactions exactly like you would the printed ones on bill paying day. Part of the beauty of this is that you have access to your information via PC anywhere in the world.
Keep it simple
Limit the number of accounts you have. Basically, I have two main accounts, a brokerage account, and a regular bank account. I also have a few travel miles credit cards. Consolidating accounts cuts down on the amount of paperwork you need to review and process on a routine basis and it gives you a clearer way to track your financial health at a glance. I have two bank accounts because I travel and want to have a main ATM card and a backup ATM card that are completely separate from each other in case one of them didn’t work. If I didn’t travel much I might just use the cash management services of my brokerage account for everything.
But, do you really need to keep separate store credit cards or gas credit cards once the bonus is finished?
Get an air miles travel card
It is a fact of life. If you are going to travel (without going insane), you are going to need a credit card. You need them for reserving hotels, purchasing plane tickets, renting cars, and any number of other travel needs. I use mine for purchasing tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals and for making almost all major purchases. If I could, I would put my utility bills on my cards (but, just make sure they are paid in full every month). If you are going to spend the money, you might as well get some miles. Also, don’t forget, when you get a new miles card you often get some pretty nifty travel bonuses as well. Take advantage of it.
Be promiscuous with your credit cards
I am not saying don’t use your credit and credit cards wisely and of course, you should always pay your debts. But once the teaser program that got you to get a certain card is finished; cut up the card and cancel the account. I get it, sometimes the allure of a new card is irresistible. Deep one time discounts and other bonuses can work to your benefit. Fine. But, do you really need to keep separate store credit cards or gas credit cards once the bonus is finished? Are you ever going to use the 437 points that keep you holding on to a hotel card indefinitely? Simplify.
This goes for miles cards as well. Get the card, use the bonus and when you are finished, cast it aside for a flashier model. Keep your credit rating high and you can probably reapply for the same card, with a new bonus, in a year or so. The credit card companies aren’t loyal to you. They are always enticing new customers with rewards and incentives while neglecting longer term customers. Why should you be loyal to them?
If this concerns you there are sites that will let you simulate changes in your credit score for free.
Mastercard or Visa
Before I started traveling I always thought of Mastercard and Visa as being basically the same thing. However, even though you don’t want to have too many accounts, there are places overseas that only take Mastercard or only take Visa. Also, this holds true for ATM cards. Plan accordingly.