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Check your FUD at the door, here are five financial tips for a decentralised working life
Office centricity may soon be a thing of the past, but don’t believe the hipsters on Instagram – the nomadic professional lifestyle is not all sipping kombucha in the back of a campervan and answering emails from a secluded beach in Mexico. You don’t just dive into the nomadic unknown without properly planning for this adventure, which is often fraught with uncertainty and financial hurdles.
Fortunately, the shift to remote work has proven that real people can do real jobs from anywhere in the world. And thanks to technology - yes, that includes cryptocurrency - it’s also never been easier to open a laptop in Europe and launch into a few hours on the grind for a company in, say, South Africa.
If you’re serious about pulling up roots and checking your FUD at the door, here are five financial tips to unshackle you from your centralised working life.
Be like water
If you plan on taking your nomadic lifestyle global, it usually means being paid for your services in one currency and receiving it in another, which will usually mean complicated ways of transferring money between countries. While your employers may pay you on time, cross-border payments have long been the bane of employees who prefer their offices across country lines. If you’re lucky, these payments take about five days to clear. If you’re among the many unlucky ones, well…
The number of crypto ATMs installed globally has increased by more than 70% this year (2021) and 120% last year. According to Coin ATM Radar, there are now 24,030 bitcoin ATMs around the world. Bitcoin is borderless, it’s a global currency, meaning you can spend it anywhere in the world without having to convert it. If you have the option of receiving payment in bitcoin, it eliminates waiting around for money to clear.
Certain travel companies like CheapAir also accept cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash, as payment for flights and accommodation. Check out websites like Coinmap, which list retailers globally that accept bitcoin as payment.
Or, how about receiving payments in BTC, converting it immediately into USDC, and using the stablecoin wherever Mastercard is accepted? The payments giant recently revealed that it is working on a pilot with Circle, which will enable banks and crypto companies to offer a card option with which people can spend digital currencies anywhere where Mastercard is accepted. USDC will serve as a bridge between the crypto in a wallet and the fiat currency paid to merchants. But never forget...
Obey thy tax master
Whether you’re raking in bitcoins through your startup in Spain or taking payment in rolled wads of cash from a farm manager in the Napa Valley, when you eventually return home, the tax authorities in the jurisdiction where you have tax residency will want to know about your financial dealings abroad. Tax regulation today applies to cryptocurrency and fiat currency, and things get even more complicated when cross-border tax treaties apply. Get a professional tax person in your corner, it will save you money.
First, make money
Before firing off that passive-aggressive resignation email, consider exactly how you intend to make money while you jet around the world; or while you rotate working from the various rooms in your house in a bid to keep things interesting – the nomadic working life knows many shapes and forms.
There’s a global shift happening in the workplace as companies move to a work from anywhere (WFA) policy, especially in the finance, technology, and insurance sectors, as found by McKinsey in its The Future of Remote Work report.
How flexible do you want your nomadic lifestyle to be? Do you see yourself braving the elements as a deckhand on an Alaskan shipping vessel for a few months and living the rest of the year in a Thai bungalow? Or does WFA mean a 9-5 job from anywhere but an actual office with more than one employee? Both have their pros and cons. It’s important to start your nomadic life with a general idea of how you see your professional life unfolding.
Budget like a semi-pro
The more complexity you add to your life, the more crucial it is to plan and stay on top of the things that are making it complicated. When you’re living a sedentary working life, all you have to worry about is not getting lost on your way to work, or, if you’re working from home, all you have to remember is to stock up on cereal to see you through the morning, and that your laptop is where you left it the previous day.
Do not underestimate the basic accounting skills required to book and pay for flights, accommodation, and food a few months in advance. Also take note of currency fluctuations. Not only do these things cost money, but mistakes in these matters will also cost you dearly.
Before you lock the door on your home office for good, whip out the old spreadsheet, preferably hosted in the cloud, and do a detailed cost analysis for the few months you plan to call the road your office. Chances are you’ll be off the mark by a fair margin but it will give you an idea of expected earnings versus expenses.
It’s always worth checking out travel insurance for other travel mishaps like missed flights or luggage, medical emergencies, evacuation, and issues that we generally push to the back of our minds when missioning beyond our driveway.
The global pandemic highlighted how fickle international travel can be, with plans made months or years ahead of time literally being shucked overnight. It pays to have these expenses insured, just in case.
Now is the time to be a professional working nomad, with digital workspaces and digital currencies making working life considerably easier outside of the office. Give it a go, the office will always be there when you get back.