Bills, post and banking

Becoming a grey nomad is very liberating. Many of those dreary everyday tasks such as mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, vacuuming the lounge room and cleaning the windows fade into distant memories.

However, it is nearly impossible to extract yourself from everything; bills will still need to be paid… banks, councils and many others will continue to send you lots of post ….and you’ll need to make sure that all of your insurance, licences and vehicle registrations are kept up to date.

One of the best investments you can make to ensure that your affairs and your journey run smoothly is a diary. Keep a record of when your house insurance, car insurance, motoring insurance, driving license and vehicle registration comes up for renewal so you don’t miss anything. There’s nothing worse than getting that sinking feeling that you’ve probably missed your insurance payment as you listen to reports on the radio of wild storms battering your hometown – or that you’ve overlooked your sister’s 60th birthday!

Direct debits are worth organising in advance as they certainly make a traveller’s life much simpler. No need to worry about due dates, bills getting lost in the post and worrying about finding a phone for BPAY – the biller automatically gets his due and you don’t need to think about it (except to ensure there is enough money in the account to cover the charges).

Internet banking is also a convenient way of monitoring your finances. You can check your bank balances, pay bills, transfer money between accounts and even between banks online, 24/7. The internet is becoming more and more accessible in increasingly remote spots. Many caravan parks, tourist information centres, libraries and a myriad of internet cafes provide internet access to travellers at a very reasonable rate. If you haven’t signed up for internet banking before you embark on your journey, it is simply a matter of contacting your bank and getting some log in details organised. They will be more than happy to talk you through the process.

What to do with your post while you are on the road is often a difficult dilemma for wannabe nomads. The good news is that Australia Post offers a free Post Restante service and with a bit of luck and planning things can work out.

If you don’t know anyone to forward your post to, you can re-direct your mail from your old address to c/o a professional mail forwarding agency. The mail forwarding agencies generally charge a registration fee and a surcharge over and above normal postage costs. The agency will receive your letters and can then send them on to you to c/o any post office in Australia as per your instructions. You can collect the items at the post office by showing them identification such as a driver’s licence or passport. Note that the Post Restante will keep your post for you for up to one month and, if it has not been collected, they will return it to the sender.

Another alternative is to have your post forwarded to a friend or relative and to periodically advise them which post office to send your mail to. The challenge comes in correctly estimating which post office you will be nearest to at any given time. If you fail to pick up your mail from a post office before you’ve moved on, you will have to fill in a re-direction form to get it sent on which will also incur additional costs.

So, with a bit of planning and organisation you can minimise the time you have to spend on boring tasks like bill paying and maximise the time you spend on important things like socialising, reading or perhaps reeling in your tea.



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