According to a 2008 poll conducted by the US Census Bureau, 5% of Americans send money overseas to family members, and the procedure is frequently difficult. Once you've figured out how to send the cash your relatives require, the more important question becomes, How do you plan for this expense?
Keeping this as a line item in your already well-organized budget spreadsheet makes perfect sense. However, any changes in how much you're sending might quickly overturn your best budgeting plans if the amount is not set in stone. Needs evolve over time, and one month's requirements may differ significantly from the next.
It's difficult enough to budget for something that varies frequently, but we should remember that spending can also be emotional. Stashing away $300 a week, in advance of making a purchase that feels fun, is very different than wiring that same amount to your grandmother overseas to pay for her hospital stay.
Kia McCallister-Young, co-director of America Saves, encourages remitters to rethink the way they think about budgeting and how much money they set aside. “We like to call it—instead of a budget—a spending and savings plan,” she explained. Here are three things to think about once you've changed your mindset:
- It's critical to ensure that the platform you're using to transmit the money is secure. “You want to make sure that it’s a reputable app and that it’s available in the country,” said McCallister-Young. “Western Union and Moneygram, because they have a lot of safety measures built into how to send money… there’s a lesser risk of fraud or scam.”
- Consider how you'd want to allocate the money.. “It’s just a matter of deciding if you want to do it as a monthly expense, or if you want to do it after all of your lifestyle expenses in addition to all of your recurring expenses are accounted for,” she said.
- Reframe your thinking about money in general. Consider the cash you're sending as anything other than a duty.: “It’s an opportunity to help your family, it’s an opportunity to give back to the people that have given to you, and it’s an opportunity to be there for your family,” McCallister-Young said.