When I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I received an email from Claire of TravelingLight asking me how I manage my finances while backpacking. I gave my two cent’s worth and thought that this was a good blog entry to share to my readers.
It can be risky bringing all your cash with you inside your bag especially when you are travelling alone. Also, the possibility of spending your money frequently is bound to happen if you have it on hand all the time. Hence, I suggest setting up bank accounts and enrolling them in Online Banking so you can monitor your transactions conveniently while on the road.
Keeping my money safe.
When I backpacked for 9 months, I withdrew money on a regular basis and not in big bulk.
How I Manage My Money as a Digital Nomad from the Philippines
These tips are helpful especially to fellow Filipinos who have seen an opportunity in the online world and are utilizing the internet as a way to earn extra income. To the rest, these points are still helpful so you can find other options on how to handle your finances. If you have something to share, kindly share away in the Comments section as I gladly welcome ideas on how to save more money.
2 Things: PayPal & Unionbank EON Account
These two accounts are very important to me because I rely on them to handle my cash while travelling. Even now in Dubai, I still use them whenever I have clients who contact me and pay me online.
Set up a Paypal Account. If you do business or work for somebody online, most likely you’ve heard of this payment method. Paypal is a virtual account that is widely accepted by merchants around the world. This is where I get paid by clients, advertisers, and employers online. I also use this to pay for my domain websites and hosting accounts as well as when I purchase items on ebay, Amazon or other shopping sites.
Note: Normally, you would need to have a credit card to set up a Paypal account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up for Paypal by applying for a savings account below.
2. Unionbank EON Savings Account
This is simply a Savings bank account. I’m partial to this bank because when I started in the online money business, I didn’t have a credit card to associate it with my Paypal account. This was and still is a good fix to that problem. The EON Savings is specially created by Unionbank with Paypal accounts in mind as they have this VISA Electron feature. I linked this with my Paypal and always use this to transfer Paypal funds to my bank.
With it’s VISA Capability, I use this as a debit card when going to shops that accept VISA cards even when I’m abroad. Other banks require you to activate international withdrawals and transactions by calling their customer service hotline. With this Unionbank EON, I don’t have to do anything.
My Monthly Payment Cycle
To put it simply, an employer pays me online through Paypal. I then transfer my Paypal money to my Unionbank EON Savings Account. Then I withdraw the money from my EON account using an ATM.
Online Salary in Paypal –> Transferred to EON Savings –> Withdrawn using a Visa Electron ATM
The money I withdraw is already converted to the country’s currency where I’m based. It’s convenient because I don’t have to exchange USD currencies to the local currency.
This is the cycle every month and I’ve never had any problems with this set-up at all. *knock on wood*
OPTIONAL ACCOUNTS: BPI & HSBC Credit Card
I also maintain 2 other accounts so I have more flexibility and options when doing business transactions. You don’t have to apply for these exact ones as these are not necessary.
BPI Savings Account
This is a regular Savings bank account. I use this for Philippine transactions wherein people send me money in Pesos. This serves as my back-up in case my EON Savings runs out of funds. You can choose any regular Savings account in your bank. I feel that BPI has more branches nationwide.
HSBC Credit Card
When I don’t have money in my Unionbank account, and I need to purchase something online, I use my HBSC credit card. How do I pay for my credit card even when I’m abroad? I use my BPI account or EON account (when they have available funds). I do NOT strongly advise in getting a credit card especially when you’re not sure of the interest rates and billing cycles that are associated with your card purchases. I’ve been trapped before, and I don’t ever want to go back to that cycle again.
However, I still keep this account for convenience while I roll the money and buy time. If you’re planning to get a credit card, just apply for one with the most minimal interest and annual fee.
These other accounts are only optional, but they serve a great deal as back-ups. I used to own other accounts (BDO, Metrobank, Chinabank, BPI Credit Card), but I’ve had them cancelled already. No use to keep them when there’s no money in them. Hehe.
ONLINE BANKING CONVENIENCE
All of these accounts I’ve enrolled in Online Banking because it’s really convenient. I don’t have to call the bank hotline, go to a physical location, or wonder how much money I have by checking account balances in ATM Machines.
With online banking, I get to monitor my money over the internet, pay bills (credit card, electricity, phone, internet plans) during my free time. By managing my accounts on the net, I save:
- MONEY – On Mobile credit for calling the Philippines for a simple inquiry.
- TIME – I hate queuing in a bank or over the phone.
- SALIVA – By not having to explain my situation to every customer service representative.
Most banks have this facility available to their accountholders. You only need to inquire how to activate the online service.
- Withdraw only ONCE a Month – Make sure that the money you withdraw will be enough to sustain you for a longer period. There’s a charge every time you withdraw money from ATMs. If you withdraw only once, you’ll be charged only once.
- Have a Secure Connection – Be careful when you open your bank accounts online. Make sure you have a secure connection to prevent unwanted hackers from accessing your details while on a shared network. Remember that it’s still the internet and everybody can access it.
Indonesian Rupiah in Bali
Lots of paper, but not worth as much.
- Do NOT Use Cash Advance Service - I have NEVER withdrawn money using my credit card. Aside from the transaction fee (of around 300 Php), it would earn interest every month if I don’t pay the full balance of my account before the cut-off date. Again, I use the credit card now as back-up only.
- Know Your Bank Fees – Yes, always check the charges of your bank. There are other processing fees like EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer) that is deducted when you withdraw money, and I’ve tried and tested a number of Philippine Bank Accounts (e.g. Banco De Oro, BPI, Metrobank). Each have their own transaction fees, but I’ve found out that Unionbank EON has the least deduction amounts; sometimes even zero!
Whether you are backpacking long-term or short-term, or even if you’re not travelling but you’re doing transactions online, it’s good to know where your money is going. These are tips based on my experiences handling different bank accounts, and these are what works for me.
Here’s a blog article from another traveller, Paul of WalkFlyPinoy shares tips on how he manages his finances on the road:
How This Backpacker Handles Finances while on Long-Term Travel | WalkFlyPinoy
Do you have other tips to share? Would love to learn more. Let’s all spend wisely.
Check out my other Money & Travel Tips articles here: