While living in Toronto, I had bank accounts at multiple banks and had investment accounts split between multiple companies. Each offered various benefits, however, over the course of time, this became time consuming, burdensome and a lot to manage. Everything from multiple statements, differing apps, a variety of policies and requirements, it all becomes a lot to handle. You may not notice as it cumulatively builds up, the process happens slowly.
After my move, I have intended to set up a bank account with Bank of China though didn't get around to it. While living in NA I loved the convenience of having a debit card, and one with tap for payments especially. This comes with a downside, I had to pay for unlimited transactions each month since I was with a major big 5 bank, yes, I could have signed up with an online only bank and have no fees; which I ended up doing, and chose ZenBanx. Unfortunately, it wasn't until after I signed up I discovered I cannot make purchases with the card online or in person outside of Canada... Kind of pointless for a bank with the slogan "Around the corner, around the world". They do however let you withdrawal from any ATM *GASP* just like EVERY OTHER BANK! 😱 They do hold a major advantage of seamlessly allowing and transferring multiple currencies in the same account (up to 5). Then I arrive in China, go to withdrawal from an ATM with my ZenBanx card and it doesn't work -- wtf.
Whatever, so far, I have used an ATM for withdrawals while waiting for my first pay check. Oh how I hate to say "wait for my first pay check" -- when I should be earning passive income which occurs more frequently, and equates to more, then a pay check does.
When I received my first pay, it was prorated based on number of days I'd worked, out of 30. Dido with the housing allowance. This is enough to get me by until next cycle. I took the cash, and divided it into 4 (for each week), then took 10% of each week to budget for savings.
Physically seeing the cash really helps, it creates hesitancy to hand it over. I think seeing the money both in hand/wallet and handing it over has a strong psychological effect.
It's been an effort getting out of the habit of converting to dollars and simply thinking purely in terms of Yuan. The tendency is to gauge cost relevancy in your home currency, understandable. Here's a different trick though, think of the local bills as flat units without currencies and treat them solely as the number. Ie. Instead of seeing the 100¥ as the $20 it's worth, see it simply as 100. This way, you don't start looking at a 100¥ and going "nbd, it's only worth a $20 bill". Then, save and stack them up.
I plan on saving the majority of my income (70%-80%) for a backpacking trip near the end of next summer throughout SE Asia which will last at least 1-1.5 years. Longer if I can make it happen. Seeing the savings pile up will have a major positive impact on my mindset for the trip, especially if I break the savings up into monthly components. My colleagues, who are all expats and have done a decent amount of traveling, say approximately $1000 should be more than enough, this is what I'm aiming for.
I'll keep my ZenBanx account and eventually put the funds in this account before leaving. This is for several reasons:
1. They pay 1.5% on deposits each month. On say, $15,000 this equates to $225/month. I've seen people get by fairly well in Thailand for $300, so this will take care of most of my expenses each month there.
2. It prevents me from carrying large amounts of cash. $15,000 is a lot to carry in dollars, let alone RMB or other currencies worth significantly less than the dollar. This protects it from loss, theft and physical damage such as rain.
3. Easily exchange currencies.
I look forward to this new aspect of my life, and similar to nearly everything, the decision is easily reversible. Many of us are afraid to do something different and new, as if you are the first to do it, and as if you cannot reverse this decision. This paralysis leaves many in a state of in-action, the worst state of all. Many are so afraid of losing a little bit of money, but have no problem losing time. Unfortunately the inverse is true, money can always be made again. Once your appointment with deaths arrives, your time is up. I've been listening to a lot of Seneca lately (see the Resources section of my site), he says (para.) it is not the last drop which empties the bottle, but the emptying of all the drops which were poured out before the last.
I leave with this personal thought of mine: Whether you are liberated through life or death is your decision. If it is life which liberates you, live fully. If it is death, settle your accounts and die with courage. But if you do not die, and do not live fully, then you shall be paralyzed and condemned to purgatory, and this is worse than death itself, for even death lives actively.