Monday, September 24, 2012

Traveling for work? Help your family cope with it!

Travelling for work may be unavoidable at times. Apart from work pressure there is pressure to adjust with the new surroundings and to fix the derailed personal routines. While you are yearning for the companionship of your spouse, laughter of your children and home cooked food, your family is missing you too. Your spouse is left alone to take care of the house and children along with their own professional commitments. There is tremendous emotional and physical pressure to keep everything up and running for them.
A frantic call from an anxious spouse and the wailing face of your child on a video call can give you sleepless night. You are left wondering as to how to ease their burden and release them from their woes as you need to be physically away to earn the living. Physical workload cannot be shared! Your spouse will have to take the children to school, get the things fixed up at home or entertain the guest alone. You may be an emotional support by communicating with them more often. However there are few more fronts to be taken care of, like, home finance. Assuming that you are the one responsible for the financial aspect of home management, here are few points as to how you can help your family even while being away.
You may already be doing your bit but answering the following questions before your travel can put everyone at ease.
1. Are your financial documents in order?

Your spouse need to open a bank account or your washing machine has broken down…what is the next step? Bank will demand ID proof and residence proof. As for your washing machine, warranty card and helpline numbers will be needed. What if your spouse could not dig out these important papers?
You could have helped your family by organizing various documents and keeping them up to date. For ease make a list of all your important documents like house and car registry papers, passports, voter ID cards, certificates of education, income tax returns, Insurance policy documents, medical insurance cards, pan cards, warranty cards for all major purchases. Scanned copy of these documents can be stored in Google docs and the like with no or nominal fees. Also one or two set of photocopies endorsed by concerned authorities can be useful.
2. Have you made all the payments?
Your son was watching his favorite cartoon when ‘services terminated because of non payment of dues’ popped up on the television screen and your spouse received a stern reminder about the maintenance bill of the house…why did this happen?
It happened because you kept on postponing the payments till the last date and between your crazy work schedules you forgot to pay them before going away. To avoid such delays, set monthly reminders on your mobile. Online or mobile payment options can be very convenient. High priority payments like Loan EMIs and insurance premiums can be done through ECS (electronic clearing service). Always leave few blank cheques signed by you at home if you are the one who signs the cheques. Blank cheques can be useful in cases like payment of insurance premiums which are to be done only by life assured or changes like amounts and dates.
3. Does your family have all required insurance covers?

Your father has fallen ill and has to be hospitalized or your car has met with an accident…How to tackle these emergencies? Medical treatment can be expensive more than you thought.  Accident has to be reported to the police and insurance company who will demand documents like car registration and car insurance.
Insurances are the assurance to reduce your monetary burden in case of mishappenings like death, accidents, illness or theft. However unlikely it may seem but such emergencies can happen to anyone anytime. It is always good to be prepared so ensure that your family has adequate life insurance, medical insurance, accidental insurance, professional indemnity insurance etc. Insure your house against calamities like earthquake or fire. Keep our vehicle insurances up to date. Most importantly, ensure that everyone in the family knows about them even your school going children. This can be one of the ways to educate them in home finance and also as they can play a crucial role in your absence.
4. How will you do your banking transactions?

Your wife has tried to access the locker jointly held by both of you but was denied the operation or you want to make prepayment for your house loan and bank has demanded your presence…can this be avoided?
Banks strictly follow the guidelines regarding customer identity, be it matching photographs or signatures. They do it to safeguard their customers against identity theft. In the cases where the customer cannot be present him/ herself, banks accept letter of authority issued in favour of relatives. The letter allows the bearer to operate in absence or in place of the customer. If you travel frequently such a letter can be of great help. Also if you are travelling for duration above a month or so, try to visit all your banks along with your spouse for better understanding of the transactions to be done in your absence.
5. Can they make purchases easily?

Your family decided to surprise you with an international vacation instead you get a call from them brimming with frustration…what would have gone wrong? They could not make the payment because of the lack of access to the desired sum (more than usual purchase routines) and their plan to surprise you was jeopardized.
It happens when one person handles all money and takes all big financial decisions at home. First and foremost, ensure that all sources of income, investments, expenses and liabilities are known to the adults (particularly spouse) in the family. Secondly they should have access, understanding and freedom to do monetary transactions in your absence, howsoever uninterested any of you may be! A credit card with a good purchase limit will ease their life. Nevertheless get a debit card instead of credit card, issued for the extravagant shoppers in your family! Handover all your membership cards like retail chain memberships or brand exclusive memberships to ascertain that you are still gaining the reward points and making your family happy.
6. Is your family travel ready?

Duration of your work got extended. Your family wanted to join you and you could not get them shipped to where you are working…who is to be blamed? Travel was not possible because your wife could not get visa approval just because your name was not endorsed on her passport.
The two most important documents for an international travel are passport and visa. Visa approvals are easy if your passports, identity proofs, resident proofs are in order. It is always helpful if you get name of husband / wife endorsed on your passport after marriage. Also documents like marriage certificate and birth certificate of your child can be crucial at times.
Positive answers to the above questions can put you at ease. Even though it can be very exhaustive check list and a lot of work on your part, it is worthwhile, as everyone in the family will get to understand the financial management and will be allowed to play their roles.
All of the above points and much more are addressed during comprehensive financial planning exercise. A Comprehensive Financial Plan can help you organize your finances, analyze your current situation and plan for your future. The various checklists prepared during the development of the financial plan can act as references as each plan is as unique as your situation. 


  1. Replies
    1. Need an advise, many of us work in private Organizations where the Medicare benefits do not extend post retirement. What is your advise on enrolling for Medicare forb post retirement healthcare costs.

    2. Need of medicare and the medical costs increases with age.
      While working with private organizations, you become part of group healthcare schemes be it medical insurance, regular free healthcheckups or anyother. You stop recieving these benefits the moment you leave the organization for reasons like job change or retirement. So in any case you must get enrolled for medicare benefits besides the one provided by your company. Choose the maximum term for such benefits which can be extended post retirement as well.

  2. shilpi,really nice article.
    Very much helfull.

  3. Good practical suggestions. Keep up the good job.

  4. Congrats Shilpi!You are innovative and it very appropriate for couples living in big cities where travel to and from office is a nightmare.


  5. Thank you everyone for appreciation and good wishes!


  6. That's another wonderful, practical one from Shilpi... I still remember your checklist that you sent me thru' email before I left India. Hats off!!! Shilpi....

    On Facebook by Manikantan Raman

  7. Thats what Financial Planning is all about..."Making life easy by bringing all practical aspects of the life together"!

  8. Hello Ms. Shilpi

    I checked your blog today, and found it to be a really useful place to learn more on personal finance. I am also a CFP and I wish you all the best in your work and writing!