Don’t Fritter Expat Tax-Free Cash On Stuff You Don’t Need

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Earning a tax-free salary is not always a recipe that leads to financial freedom for British expats.

Although working overseas often means a lower cost of living and paying lower taxes, the temptation is still to spend whatever income comes in.

Take Dubai, the desert playground which is home to 100,000 British expats and where many on assignment earn big tax-free salaries.

But local figures suggest the average pension income for a Dubai expat is around £33,000 a year.

Living costs can eat into income – although housing, utility bills and day to day expenses are cheaper than home, the big temptation is to spend money on lifestyle choices and shopping.

How much expats need to save

Then there’s extra spending on trips home, running a car and compulsory private health insurance for any expat applying for a long-term visa.

That £33,000 annual pension comes from the £6,300 a year state pension and whatever a personal pension can generate.

The balance of around £26,000 would take a pension fund of at least £700,000 to generate.

That does not sound a lot to a 30-year-old on an average Dubai salary of £4,500 a month, but even those expats would need to save at least a quarter of their salary.

Young expats can add some extras to their living costs, like school fees and maybe a second car.

Pensions are reverse borrowing

It’s not hard to see that saving is not necessarily a priority when incomes are squeezed by lifestyle choices.

A professional financial adviser who can talk about saving options for retirement can help with ideas to pay the bills and put some money away at the same time.

But in the end, there is only one pot of cash and the money can only be spent once.

Lots of expat clubs and bars around the world are propped up by those wishing they had paid more attention to pension saving when younger, even if doing so had led to tightening the belt a little and spending less on having a good time.

Pensions are simple financial products. They are just reverse borrowing. Instead of taking a loan and spending now, the money goes into a pension for spending in later life while growing in value.

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