Alternatives to pension plans for disenchanted expat investors

Published:  1 May at 6 PM
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Times are changing as regards planning for retirement, with actual pension plans beginning to lose their popularity due to government-initiated rule changes and media exposure of unsuitable products and even scams.

DIY investment is a scary thought for many expat retirees, mostly due to its jargons and the need to study before taking major plunges. However, retirement doesn’t have to mean brain death, and researching into investment possibilities can be far more interesting than learning a new language. The added bonuses are saving the money you’d spend on using a financial advisor and not experiencing that nagging feeling that you may be listening to the wrong person.

One reasonably straightforward way to invest without having to worry about share prices and suchlike is to play the currency game. Movements of foreign exchange rates are clearly stated on many online sites, and following economic and other indicators’ effects on currency movements is interesting in itself. The best way forward is via an offshore bank account, both for better rates of interest and increased flexibility as regards fast and easy trading in diverse currencies.

Given that the stock market is a risky place, good profits can be made once you’ve learnt the basics of trading. A number of online trading sites offer good advice as well as practice trading programmes which don’t involve real money. Self investing can be rewarding as long as newbies don’t put all their eggs in one basket and remember real success usually comes with experience.

The property market is seen by many expats as the answer to comparatively easy self-investment. Buy to let properties can, if chosen carefully, reap considerable benefits, especially if you’ve the cash to pay outright after negotiating the best price. Right now, UK buy-to-let mortgages are more easily available for expat investors, although the British government needs to be watched carefully for rule changes, as does the British taxman.

Whichever option suits you best, it’s important to remember that knowledge is power but doesn’t arrive overnight. Once you’ve got the hang of the basics, you’ll be surprised it’s not as terrifying as you’d imagined, just as long as you start with small amounts and don’t break the number one rule of not investing more than you can afford to lose.
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