Au Pairing, France

Au Pair Lessons: Banking is a….


Since I’m polite, I’m not going to finish that sentence, but I’m sure everyone finished it off in their heads, am I right? (Of course I am.)

I am, in no way, shape or form, here to advise you about money because I need all the advising I can get. What I can say, however, is this: for the love of your sanity and your patience and your hard earned money, before leaving the country to go au pair, know what’s what with your bank.

As with a few things on this blog, the reason I bring this up is because I have the fortune (or, lack of fortunate, depending on if we’re looking for silver linings or not) of having gone through bank issues while overseas. And let me tell you, trying to sort that over the phone is not what most people would call a good time.

One of the reasons I had that problem was because I didn’t know the state of my bank accounts before I left. I didn’t know how much was going to student loan payments and how much was left over. (I had also managed to lose my debit card, which meant I couldn’t take a look online to see what the state of my account was, either.)

I mean, I have my excuses/reasons for why that happened. The largest one being that my mother was kind/loving/amazing enough to deal with that for me, which is attached to the second reason being that, before I left for France, I was working over 12 hours a lot of days and at the end of the day/week, I just did not have the mental capacity to handle anything else.

There also ended up being problems with my French bank after I moved from Chartres to Plateau. Maybe it was because my French isn’t as flawless as I like to think it is*, but simple things seemed to just be complicated and I couldn’t understand why it would take over two weeks for money to appear in my bank account.

Trying to figure out issues with several banks at once is a great way to lose your patience and your hair, trust me. So! Have some advice, free of charge:

  1.  Go to your bank and ask to have someone explain your student loans and how much it will be each month, as well as when that cost goes up.
  2.  Let them know you’re going to be out of the country for x period of time and what you should do if you have any problems/questions/concerns
  3. Keep good track of all cards/PINs/passwords – maybe it was just my luck/bank, but getting a replacement card ended up being painful
  4. Keeping a schedule of when payments are going to be taken out of your account is always a good idea, that way you can monitor and feel better about where your money is going.
  5. If any of your cards will be expiring while you’re abroad, see if you can get it replaced before you leave so that it doesn’t become an issue.
  6. I would really suggest opening a bank account in whatever new country you’re going to. Most banks have huge service charges for using your card overseas. As well, it can mean that your host family can pay you directly into your bank account every week/month (depending on your pay set up)
  7. If/when you open a new bank account in your new country, see if they have a debit card that also functions as a credit card. This will mean that you can use it to purchase things online, with the money you make as an au pair and you won’t have to use (or use less) your credit card from back home.
  8. This could sound a little  odd, but try and set aside some of your au pair money for ‘just in case’. You honestly never know what might come up and it’s better to be safe than sorry. As well: it’ll give you good practice for when you have a ‘proper’ job and should be putting a percentage of your paycheque away!

I know that this all sounds like it should be so, so common sense, and, really? It is. It’s just that, in the midst of visas and packing and buying plane tickets and actually just making the money, you (aka: I) forget that you also have to know about where that money is going later on.

Things I’m Loving:

+ This playlist – (For being upbeat.)
+ These maps – (For being beautiful and delicate and intricate.)
+ These pants – (For being perfect for summer and coming in ALL THE COLOURS!)
+ This site – (For being the reason to always have another ‘to read’.)

* Not to brag or anything, but I’ve dealt with Apple on the phone in French. I don’t know, I’d say it’s gotten pretty good.


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