Relocating to Australia is about far more than just going through the visa application process and other administrative affairs before the move. There’s also all the stuff you need to manage after you’ve arrived, from getting to grips with your employment or studies, to finding the most affordable way to send money back to those you left behind.
When it comes to money, this is now the time to ensure you lay the groundwork for a fruitful financial future. To help you do that, we’ve put together some tips on managing your money in Oz.
Tip 1: Set Up a Local Bank Account
One way to ensure your new life in Australia gets off to a solid start is to open a local bank account. The good news is this can often be done online in a matter of minutes, but you will need to upload some identification documents. The number of documents required may vary, but some of the widely accepted forms of ID include:
- Passport with Australian visa
- Foreign driver’s licence
- Tenancy agreement
- Student ID
- Utility bills dated within the last three months
When it comes to choosing a bank in Australia, you certainly won’t be short of options. Some of the biggest names include CommBank, ING and Westpac, and you can expect to be provided with a user-friendly, everyday bank account which comes with a debit card.
Before opening an account with any bank, it’s a very good idea to check the small print. This means you’ll be aware of any specific fees that may be charged for, say, using ATM machines abroad, or unexpectedly going into an overdraft.
Tip 2: Understand How Tax Works
Tax may not be the most thrilling subject in the world, but it’s vital to be aware of how it works in Australia so you know exactly where your finances stand. There’s no need to feel daunted at the thought of dealing with tax in Australia – let’s look at the core things you need to be aware of.
The tax file number, or TFN, is the unique reference number that identifies you within the Australian tax system. It’s yours for life, whether you change your name or move back home. Although a TFN isn’t compulsory, there are major drawbacks to not having one. These include having to pay a higher rate of tax, and not being able to obtain an Australian Business Number (if you were to set up your own business).
You can apply for your TFN here.
The amount you pay in income tax depends on how much you earn. A certain amount of your earnings will be designated tax-free, while anything over that will be taxed according to which income bracket you enter. The thresholds for each bracket may change from year to year, so it’s important to check what the current thresholds are so you’re clear on how much tax you’ll pay on your salary.
It’s important to note that most people in Australia have to file tax returns by 31 October every year. This is the case even if your tax is automatically deducted from your salary by your employer.
When it comes to your wages or salary in Australia, another thing to take into account is superannuation, which locals just call super. This is money you invest in a special fund, where it will grow over time and which will help fund your retirement. If you earn more than $450 a month, your employer is obliged by law to pay a percentage of your salary as superannuation contributions into the super fund.
You can also choose to make extra, voluntary superannuation contributions yourself, which can bring you tax benefits. It’s worth researching supers and super funds closely, as you may have the option of selecting a fund of your choice. Some factors you’ll want to consider when comparing funds is:
- How competitive their fees are
- The range of investment options available
- Their track record when it comes to investments
- What insurance options they offer
Tip 3: Plan Your Budget
Something that can take many migrants by surprise is how their new cost of living can be radically different to what they were used to back home. The last thing you want is to be taken unawares and find yourself out of pocket at the end of the month. That’s why it’s a great idea to sit down and draw up a formal budget for the weeks or months to come. The outgoings listed in your budget should include:
- Your rent or mortgage
- Your home utility bills
- The cost of your home broadband and mobile phone bills
- Your weekly groceries
- How much you expect to spend on transport
- What you’d like to set aside for entertainment, nights out, etc
Tip 4: Stay Aware of the Exchange Rate
At Remitly, we know that one of your main priorities may be to send consistent amounts of money to those who depend on you back home. Our top tip for this is to look up the currency exchange rate. As the rate can and will fluctuate, the amount you’re able to purchase in your home currency with, say, AUD$100 will differ depending on the day, or even the time of day, you’re making the transaction. Thanks to the internet, it’s very easy to keep track of the currency pair that’s relevant to you, so you can make an informed decision on when to send.
Tip 5: Find a Cost Effective Way to Send Money Home
Whether your remittances are gifts to friends and family, or you’re actively providing essential support for a loved one, you’ll want to ensure you use a money transfer service that’s cost-effective and trustworthy. Remitly provides that service for millions of members around the world, and you can try it for yourself through our website or app. Just add your recipient’s details and you can make use of our fair, transparent fee structure and clear exchange rates to send money whenever it’s needed.