The problem that nearly every freelancer or even small business faces is an even bigger problem when you’re a digital nomad: cash flow.
Your part-time job, or even your full-time business as a digital nomad, certainly requires low overheads. That is why many people choose this lifestyle. However, when you are on the road, you must have positive cash flow to be able to pay for your travel expenses and things like hotels and the like.
It’s not like normal life when you pay your rent or mortgage on the same day every month. In some cases, you pay weekly, so you need to have cash ready.
Having the right payment provider can go a long way towards generating positive cash flow so you can keep traveling without worrying about your money. In this article, I will talk about several ways to make sure you get paid.
The best option to receive payment is to accept cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. If you’re like most digital nomads doing customer service, then you’re probably receiving payments from all over the world.
Juggling different currencies is a mess and expensive. Money transfers are always associated with a fee, but there are additional fees for currency exchange. If only there was a world currency that would not have to be exchanged. Enter Bitcoin Revolution.
When you accept Bitcoin as a payment method, you significantly reduce your fees as it doesn’t matter what country your customer is in or where you are. Your digital wallet is your bank account and it stays the same no matter where you are. As a bonus, you can even earn extra money if bitcoin rises in value.
The downside of this is that if you leave your BTC in a digital wallet and the value drops, you will also end up losing money and may end up earning less than what you originally intended. You can immediately cash out fiat currency or take a risk on the exchange market. Or you can try to invest your currency in further trading using a platform like bitcoin x. It depends on your risk tolerance.
After doing some trend research, you may find that leaving it in your wallet is not as risky as it might seem.
PayPal vs. Transferwise
Paypal has always been the gold standard of payment methods for digital nomads. It was easy to accept and you could convert your deposits into any currency you wanted to cash out. By price.
High fees have always made digital nomads cringe every time they transfer their money. Because of these high fees, they face competition and may be thrown off their throne.
Transferwise does pretty much everything Paypal does but with a small fee. With their help, transferring money is much cheaper than using Paypal. And in any currency you can imagine.
The exchange rate is also very up-to-date for Transferwise, so you get the best exchange rate available at the time of transfer to your account.
However, Transferwise has a few downsides. They don’t generate invoices like Paypal does, so you need to keep a close eye on your bookkeeping to make sure your invoices are accurate. The other problem is that you don’t get any kind of insurance against payment disputes like you do with Paypal.
For example, Paypal guarantees that you are covered in the event of a dispute over a payment or work performed. If you haven’t been paid, or at least paid incorrectly, you can open a ticket and Paypal will be the arbitrator in the dispute. Also, if you use Paypal to pay for a service or product but it doesn’t arrive or there’s a problem, you can make a chargeback and get a refund if Paypal is on your side in the dispute.
Basically, Transferwise is a good borderless bank account that can process your payments for very low fees, but doesn’t do some of the extras that Paypal offers.
Unfortunately, the accounting departments of some companies are not yet in the 21st century. Some digital nomads still have to deal with acceptance of checks. What is a problem to deal with on the road. If you are one of those unfortunate ones, the best option is to use an email service where you pay a monthly fee to receive and open your mail for you.
They can send you mail to any address you have abroad, in which case you can open the mail yourself if you find it funny that someone else is accessing your personal or business mail.
Make sure you have a bank account that allows you to send a check image to the app to deposit it, no matter where you live. However, this is a little tricky as some banks won’t let you use their app if you’re outside your home country. You can try using a VPN for your phone to access these apps.
As you can see, it is possible to take checks, but it is troublesome and should be avoided if possible. If your client insists on checks, make sure you add a condition with your next client that you don’t accept checks and get out of there.
Accept local payments
Not all digital nomads work remotely in some sense. Of course, they are far from home, but some of them also work in the local economy. Some living abroad have found a niche in the local market that they can fill. For example, if you are a web developer, you can find local clients who need a website for their business.
In these cases, you will use the local currency, but it is best to do it digitally. For tax purposes, having a digital “paper” footprint can make your bookkeeping easier to manage.
There are many ways to accept payments with credit or debit cards using the car reader on your phone. Stripe is a popular processor, so something like this that plugs into a phone jack and lets you read cards is the easiest way to process a payment.
However, there is a fee for each trading service. Usually you pay a percentage of the sale plus a monthly fee. And in some cases, you also pay a fee for sending payments to the bank that processes the payments.
It’s not an ideal situation, but it might work for you if you’re taking on local clients. In the US, getting cash sometimes requires you to register with your local chamber of commerce and have a special tax identification number for billing customers.
Make sure you meet tax requirements
Regardless of how you plan to accept payments for your services, you need to make sure you pay your taxes correctly. This is the biggest problem for digital nomads, and information is conflicting at best on how to deal with your taxes while working on the road.
If you are an American then you must file a tax return no matter how much you earn or where your income comes from. You may not pay any taxes, but you must apply. In many cases, you should be eligible for the earned income tax credit, which covers you from having to pay taxes, unless your annual overseas income exceeds $109,000.
You may now be required to pay local taxes depending on how long you stay in one place. Each country will have its own rules regarding when you turn off the wire in terms of time spent in the country, which requires you to pay local taxes. Someone will say that it is 6 months, and someone will say a year.
Now, if you don’t pay any local taxes, you will need to pay SECA taxes in the US no matter how much you earn. Basically, it’s your payroll tax that covers your Social Security and Medicare, which is usually withheld when you work for a company. If you are working remotely for a US company, ignore this as these taxes are automatically withheld.
If you are a freelancer, you should definitely hire an accountant or tax expert who specializes in these types of scenarios. Knowing that you won’t end up with tax penalties later on is probably worth it.
When you live on the road and do not have a permanent address, you really feel free. However, at the same time, you also have a lot of complexities when it comes to getting paid and paying taxes.
For many, it’s worth it. You just need to know your options so you can choose the best path that is the least difficult.