And now for something completely different

As January drew to a close, it was time to begin sorting out my stuff in Australia and getting ready to continue my adventure in the US of A.

I investigated which travel money card gave the best value. As it turned out, the Comm Bank card is incredibly competitive. I already banked with Comm Bank and getting the travel money card was so easy it made my head spin. I sat down with a nice chap at the branch and, 20 minutes later, left a happy girl. I’d been sorted out with the travel money card for just $15 which is the card purchase fee. Your initial money load onto the card is free of charge. Any additional money top ups have a fee equivalent to 1% of the load amount i.e. load $1000, pay $10 fee. I’d put everything in my savings and current accounts onto the travel money card as you can swipe it in shops just like a normal Mastercard without incurring a fee.

The exchange rate is set at the time you transfer money into that particular currency. If you put 100AUD into USD when the exchange rate is 1:1, your 100AUD becomes 100USD. However, if the next day the exchange rate for AUD:USD changes to 1:2, tough luck, your USD balance won’t increase to reflect the exchange rate. This is both good and bad. It’s good because there’s no unexplained changes to available funds but, it’s bad if you’re unlucky with the exchange rate. Try and choose your time to transfer between currencies wisely.

I’d set the currencies I wanted (USD and GBP for me) and allocated the funds accordingly. Easy as that. They even give you a spare card so, should you lose one, you have another one ready to go. Once you’ve got the cards, you can register for the online services with the cards. You can add currencies, load more money, move money between currencies, view transactions and see balances available for all currencies supported on the card. The online site really is very good and so easy to use. Overall, I’m very impressed.

Something else I needed to do was claim my tax back. As expected, the level of red tape and forms to complete is staggering. I went down to the taxation office branch in Melbourne to fill mine out and I’m pleased I did. I completed the form wrong multiple times but filling it out in branch meant that a member of staff was able to check it over for me. If you’re doing it at home and don’t realise you’ve missed a signature somewhere, it’s going to be a long process to correct the claim once you’re overseas.

You will need the ABN for your employer, amount earned and tax paid for each job you’ve had in Australia. These should all be available on your payslips. My payslips had ‘year to date’ totals on them so saved me some adding up which I appreciated.

Definitely make time to fill in the form in person at an office before you leave. You can do it at Melbourne Tullamarine but the queues at the desk are disgusting and if you need any extra information, it’s all been left a little late by that point.

They like to pay tax back into an Australian account so think about leaving an account open in Oz. I did and intend to load the refunded tax onto my travel money card before I close my final Comm bank account (the 1% load fee is cheaper than an international money transfer).

Another thing to consider is claiming back Superannuation that has been paid. I consolidated my super into a single fund before I left so that I only have one company to pester. However, you cannot claim your Superannuation back until your visa expires. This means I need to wait until August 2014 to put in my claim. I’ll have to report back on the bureaucracy associated with that.

So, I’d wrapped up the administration of leaving Australia. All that was left to do was get to the airport and fly away.

I took public transport to the airport as it’s much cheaper than the Skybus. It’ll only cost you about $7 on the train/bus but the Skybus is about $18. Just make sure you have enough money on your Myki. I got the train to Broadmeadows then took the 902 bus to the airport. It’s slower than the Skybus but I didn’t care. I had loads of time to spare so saved myself some money.

Once at the airport, I decided I didn’t want to go to the USA anymore and bought a ticket back to London Heathrow instead. That’s another story though……