Beyond resolutions: 7 steps to help expats in Poland enjoy a prosperous 2024
The beginning of a new year is always an ideal time to review finances and make positive changes. Like getting fit, improving your financial circumstances largely requires a combination of instilling good habits and then being consistent with them. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or just starting your financial journey, this checklist will guide you through the key considerations for making the most of your finances in 2024.
Create or replenish your emergency fund
This should be a priority. Unexpected things can happen to everyone, even more so to those of us who live outside the safety net of our home country. Job loss, forced repatriation, loss of expat benefits, tenants trashing your house, illness—these are all things that can happen to expat families.
An emergency fund helps insulate you from some of these curveballs. I typically recommend that an expat emergency fund covers six months’ worth of living expenses. Also, don’t get overly clever with these funds. You want to be sure that the money is there when you need it. Hold them in a risk-free, easy-to-access deposit account in the currency you will likely need.
Create a budget/evaluate your expenses
As expats, we typically operate in a currency other than that of our home country. This can cause a loss of perspective when it comes to spending. Many of us spend amounts we would never consider if priced in our home currency. Nevertheless, for our long-term financial well-being, we must figure out how much we’re spending, and on what.
For most of us, a significant amount is wasted on impulse purchases, avoidable fees, poor planning, and the inappropriate use of debt. Trimming unnecessary spending gives us scope to redirect these funds toward our important financial goals. You do have financial goals, don’t you?
Organise your documents
Simplify your financial life by organising your important documents and storing them in a single, secure place. Having easy access to your financial records, legal documents, and investment statements increases your control over your financial journey. It will also make things infinitely easier for your loved ones, should something happen to you.
Review your investments
For investors, the past couple of years have been bumpy. In 2022, the S&P 500 (an index of the 500 largest public companies in America and a good proxy for stocks in general) experienced a decline of 25%. A week before Christmas 2023, and the index was at a new all-time high. How did that ride make you feel?
Your investment portfolio is a dynamic entity that requires periodic review and adjustments. Assess the performance of your investments, consider diversification strategies, and ensure that your asset allocation aligns with your risk tolerance and financial goals.
Review your insurance coverage
Review your insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage for your assets and loved ones. Consider life insurance, health insurance, property insurance, and other relevant coverage based on your unique circumstances. In particular, insurance needs should be reassessed after significant life events such as marriage, the birth of a child, or purchasing a home. Finally, if you set up a policy such as life or health insurance in your home country, get confirmation, in writing, that it still covers you now that you are living in Poland.
Update your will and other estate planning documents
Most people don’t have a will, and for those who do, it’s unlikely to be up to date. An up-to-date will is especially important for expats who may be involved in dual-nationality marriages and have assets spread across several countries. While you are at it, review the beneficiary designations on all of your insurance and retirement accounts to make sure that they still reflect your wishes.
Get competent advice when you need it
The level of complexity and sophistication of financial products has increased immensely in recent years. That complexity is multiplied when it comes to cross-border financial planning.
It is a challenge to keep up with the changing rules and regulations. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Navigating the pitfalls and opportunities of expat personal finance is often best done with professional guidance.