Ask Money

Living and Investing Abroad

Chris Farrell Feb 21, 2008

Question: I’m an American living in Germany married to a German. I do not work, except for small English teaching jobs. My husband works in the German tax field with some international tax aspects. He does not have the time or the interest to invest any money except in a normal German savings account which does not give a good interest rate. I am 38 years old, my husband is 44, and we have 5 children. We are working to get out of a tremendous amount of debt, but I would like to really get serious about putting aside a nest egg. What can I do as an expat who doesn’t have a lot of money but would like to begin to get in on the many savings plans in the States that don’t seem to be available here in Germany? I am also concerned a bit about the exchange rate.

Answer: It’s a good time for you to be investing, considering how strong the Euro is against the dollar right now. Investing in Europe, the U.S., or anywhere in the world is remarkably easy in today’s Internet-linked economy. You can work with full service brokers, discount brokers, online firms, plus all the banks and major mutual fund companies will open up an account for you–no matter where you live.

In your case, I think the bigger issue is figuring out how to invest. I have two books to suggest. The first is “The Random Walk Guide to Investing: Ten Rules for Financial Success” by Burton Malkiel. It’s a very simple, straight forward book covering the main personal finance topics. I recommend this book a lot to people who want to quick read and introduction to the topic.

The other is a bit dated, but it covers a lot of ground: “The Wall Street Journal Book of International Investing: Everything You Need to Know About Investing in Foreign Markets” by John A. Prestbo and Douglas R. Sease.

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