Are you new in or moving to a new country? If yes, congratulations! That’s great news!
You have come to the right place.
If you are new to any of these countries, especially the UK, Canada, Australia, the US, Ireland or any other European country etc, or planning to relocate soon, this post is for you.
A lot of people are taking steps to relocate abroad. Many people are making their way away from my home country, Nigeria, because of the lack of opportunities available to young people.
This post will help you take charge of your finances right from day one.
I will be sharing how you can manage your finances as a new immigrant abroad based on my financial knowledge as someone who relocated to the UK in my twenties.
What are the things you need to do as a new immigrant?
Open a bank account
The first thing to do is open a bank account in your new country of residence.
If you have come in on a student visa, your university will likely support you by opening a bank account for you, but if you have come in with the highly skilled workers program or exchange program, you need to open a bank account.
There needs to be a place for you to put money away, receive money and make transactions. Opening a bank account brings legitimacy; it allows you to start your journey towards legitimacy in your new country.
Find an efficient way to remit money back home
Research has shown that Nigerians in Diaspora remit billions of dollars every year back home, and we support the Nigerian economy in our little way.
Now, you have joined the statistics of immigrants sending money back home, especially if you are from an African community where sending financial support to your family is a norm.
You need to understand that your bank is not the most efficient way to send money home; take advantage of the various platforms like Western Union and Wise transfer that allow you to send money home.
The Wise transfer platform is the magic of the 21st century, a fantastic way to send money home.
There are so many business platforms that have set up remitting systems and functions where you can go and send money home.
Explore your options and choose an efficient way to remit money.
Remit money with sense
I have had coaching sessions with clients who moved to a new country and have spent about 2000 pounds on their family back home within the space of three months after they arrived.
This happens when people receive money from a new income as young doctors or nurses and do not make a budget or plan to save.
By doing this, you are setting a negative precedent. You are starting what you can not finish. The moment you start sending money home without a structured plan, it becomes a pattern that you will try to maintain. So when your bills increase, and you need to get a car, write a professional exam or acquire a property, it becomes difficult for you to maintain the pattern.
This is why you need to have a budget so that you can remit money to your family back home with sense.
Start building an emergency fund
Think about it; we always have to send money home because we have families who need our support and help due to the state of the economy back home. It is a great idea to send financial help to your people, but do it with the consciousness that an emergency fund is more important.
Start saving for an emergency fund as soon as you get a job and settle down. For a lot of people who have relocated abroad, there are still visas you have to apply for because you have come in with a work permit that needs to be renewed after two to three years. Sometimes, your employer would handle it but there are times when you have to pay yourself.
You need to have money for situations like this because even if your employer is taking care of it, you may still be required to prove that you can sustain yourself and you are doing well.
You also need an emergency fund because an opportunity might arrive to either sit for an exam or attend a conference which your employer can refund you later, but you need to have your funds to first pay in the initial stage.
Bear in mind that where you have relocated will likely be more expensive than where you are coming from. So the possibility that you can get emergency support from home is very low, and that is why you need to build your emergency fund.
Create a Budget
A budget will help you with building your emergency fund. You need to know how much is coming in, your bills, what you need to spend monthly, and how much you would have left.
As a new Immigrant in the UK, US, Canada, and other western countries, you need to have a budget. Some bills like utility, water, electricity, and gas are constant in these countries and have to be paid monthly.
If you live in the UK, council tax should be included in your budget, especially if you are renting an apartment. So you need to build a budget that tells you what your bills are every month and how you will cover them. This turn helps you create an emergency fund and remit money with sense.
You can download budgeting apps to help you budget with ease and keep track of your money and expenses.
Automate your Bills
Automating your bills makes your life simple. These bills will happen either way and you would not want them to pile up. You do not want to start making calls to electricity and utility companies asking for help or some more time to pay your bills because you allowed them to pile.
If you have gotten a job and your income is steady, you should automate your bills. So before you start shopping and making those expenses, your bills are already out of the way.
Research before you shop
You are now in the land of consumerism where things are very accessible; you can easily sit on your laptop and shop away. As a new immigrant in these western countries, you do not have to buy everything because you can easily access them.
Do your research before you shop. If you want to shop quality, it is necessary to research the brand before buying. Know the seasons and what is cheaper in different seasons.
Build your credit score
You have likely moved to a country that uses a credit system. A system a lot of us coming from Africa are not used to. In these western countries, you need to build your credit score.
In places like the UK, you do not have to get a credit card to build your credit score. You can first get on the electoral roll if you are from a common-wealth country like Nigeria; this will help your credit.
Also, get a mobile phone contract (a sim-only contract is better) because this requires a credit check and boosts your credit once you start paying regularly.
Utility bills and other bills can improve your credit as well. However, If you have to get a credit card, make sure that you pay it up fully every month to avoid debt.
Never do charity on a credit card
You are supposed to do charity and pay your tithe from what you have and not from your credit card. You cannot do charity with money that you do not have.
Your credit card is borrowed money, it is not yours. This is not an issue of having faith for when your circumstances improve. You can wait till your circumstances improve before paying tithe or doing charity but do not use your credit card for these reasons.
Giving from what you have also does not mean you should use your school fees to pay tithe. That is also not your money. Apply wisdom; do not be ignorant of these credit card mistakes, so you do not fall into debt.
Get location-specific financial knowledge
Every country has financial benefits, knowledge, and rules that you need to know. Know how the pension works, the government taxes and requirements, the benefits available to you, and how you can take part.
If you are relocating to the UK, you can get all the financial knowledge you need on my Youtube channel. You can subscribe and binge-watch these videos to acquire information. Every country has financial knowledge that you need to know; get information that is specific to your location.
Do not keep up with the Jones
You are a new immigrant trying to find your feet, settle down, get a job, build a home and adjust to the system. This is not the time to keep up with the Joneses and stunt on the gram to show people you are now abroad or else you will spend money that you do not have and fall into debt. Let the Joneses do their thing, your journeys are different.
I hope you find these points useful as a new immigrant or an intending immigrant. I am rooting for you and hope you have a wonderful time in your new country.
Till next time.