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The best ways to send money abroad: a quick guide

Need to send money to family or friends overseas? Have funds in foreign accounts you need to access in your new home? Sending money abroad may be cheaper and faster than you might think.

The best ways to send money abroad: a quick guide
Photo: TransferWise

As more people live their lives across borders, the need to send money abroad is greater than ever. There are plenty of reasons expats need to send money overseas, and the number of available options is on the rise as well.

Whether you’re an expat juggling funds across banks in multiple countries, or a small-business owner who needs to pay invoices to an overseas supplier, there are plenty of options for moving money abroad safely and efficiently. And many are cheaper and more-user friendly than an old-fashioned bank transfer.

Below are a few options to consider when you need to make your next international money transfer.

Xoom

Xoom is a PayPal company that allows users to transfer money abroad, reload mobile phone credit balances, and pay bills with an easy-to-use app or online interface. Xoom currently provides service in 53 countries, with manageable fees ($4.99 for using a bank account). The maximum transfer amount is $2,999. And as you can guess by its name, Xoom is fast – delivering funds quickly regardless of which option you choose.

TransferWise

TransferWise is a user-friendly peer-to-peer service that lets users transfer money abroad in 38 different currencies spanning 55 countries. Fees are minimal and always upfront, with transfers under €400 costing only €2 (larger transfers cost just 0.5 percent of the total amount transferred). TransferWise also features the true exchange rate as well as fast delivery times. The app and web interface are also well-designed and easy to use, with a handy comparison tool.

Currencies Direct

This online service is good option for anyone looking to transfer more than £100. Currencies Direct offers international money transfers in 39 currencies and doesn’t charge any fees, and there is no upper limit on how much you can transfer. Exchange rates vary with the size of the transfer – the more you transfer, the better the rate. The website is also translated into 9 languages.

CurrencyFair

Founded in 2010, CurrencyFair is a peer-to-peer currency exchange that allows you to bypass banks altogether. Besides the basic €3 transfer fee, users pay an additional fee (0.38 percent on average) based on the amount exchanged and how easily they match with another user. The service is currently available for 20 currencies.

OFX

OFX (formerly known as UKForex) allows users to make international transfers in 155 currencies. There are no fees, although there is a minimum transfer of £100. Users can make transfers online or over the phone, and with offices across the world, OFX offers 24-hour customer support. Setting up recurring transfers is a snap, and OFX also offers different hedging tools to minimize risk.

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by TransferWise

MONEY

How much does it cost to raise a child in Italy?

How big is the financial commitment parents have to make in Italy to pay for their offspring’s needs and expenses until they’re grown up and independent? Here's a look at the predicted costs.

How much does it cost to raise a child in Italy?

Family is the bedrock of Italian society, but it’s also an unbalanced economic crutch, propping up children who leave home much later than most of their European counterparts.

Various factors are at play, from a declining birth rate, youth unemployment, being unable to get on the property ladder to young Italians moving abroad in search of better financial opportunities.

It probably comes as little shock, then, that parents in Italy end up forking out huge sums of cash to support their offspring through childhood and early adulthood (and beyond).

Even just up to the age of 18, raising a child in Italy can cost upwards of €320,000, according to data from Italian consumer research body ONF (Osservatorio Nazionale Federconsumatori).

The average spend of raising a child from 0-18 years is €175,642, but it rises in families with high incomes, classed as over €70,000 per year.

READ ALSO: Italian class sizes set to shrink as population falls further

Researchers noted that the cost of bringing up children has jumped up following the effects of the pandemic too: compared to 2018, child-rearing expenses increased by 1.2 percent by 2020.

The decrease in expenditure related to transport due to spending more time at home, as well as those incurred for sports and leisure activities, was not enough to mitigate the increase in costs for housing and utilities, which increased by 12 percent compared to 2018.

Photo by Suzanne Emily O’Connor on Unsplash

Food prices rose by 8 percent compared to 2018 and education and care jumped by 6 percent for the same timeframe.

In fact, Italy ranks as the third most expensive country in the world for raising children, only coming behind South Korea and China, according to data from investment bank JEF.

The pandemic has contributed to extending an already growing phenomenon: the decrease in annual income of Italian households.

Household income dropped by 2.8 percent from 2019 to 2020, the report found, citing data from national statistics agency Istat. It marks a further squeeze for families, especially low-income and single-parent families.

Depending on earnings, the amount needed to bring up a child until the age of 18 varies considerably.

READ ALSO: ‘Kids are adored here’: What being a parent in Italy is really like

A two-parent family with an annual income of €22,500 spends an average of €118,234.15 to bring up a child until the age of 18; for the same type of family but with an average income of €34,000 per year, the total expenditure to bring up a child increases to €175,642.72.

For high-income families, stated as over €70,000 annually, raising a child costs €321,617.36 on average.

The figures mark an increase of around €5,000 for low- and middle-income families, and a much sharper rise of €50,000 for high-income families, compared to ten years ago.

The money gets spent on housing, food, clothing, health, education and ‘other’ categories. The report revealed that the average spend on a child aged 16 years old is almost €11,500 annually, amounting to €955.78 per month.

Almost €2,000 per year gets spent on food, €1,615 goes on transport and communication, €782 goes on clothing and €1,600 goes on education annually, the report found.

They begin small, yet the costs are anything but. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

For the ONF, “these data highlight how, today more than ever, having a child is becoming a luxury reserved for the few, which fewer and fewer Italians are able to afford.”

READ ALSO:

The numbers on supporting children after their 18th birthday are a little hazier, as when children eventually fly the nest varies – but figures from Eurostat show that Italy ranks third in Europe for the average oldest age at which children move out of the parental home, at 30.2 years old.

Only young people from Croatia and Slovakia wait longer to live independently, while the EU average for flying the nest is 26.4 years old.

Even then after eventually leaving home at over 30 years old, it’s not entirely clear how many Italians are fully independent once they get their own address, or whether their parents continue to bankroll their living costs.

Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella sent a message to Italy’s Birth Foundation (Fondazione per la Natalità) in May stating, “The demographic structure of the country suffers from serious imbalances that significantly affect the development of our society.”

In response to worsening economic circumstances, the Italian government has recently pledged to do more to help people have families and reverse Italy’s continuing declining birth rate.

It has introduced the Single Universal Allowance (L’assegno unico e universale), but along with it has dropped various so-called ‘baby bonuses’ that provided lump sums to new parents.

The new allowance is a monthly means-tested benefit for those who have children, or are about to have a child. It is payable from the seventh month of pregnancy until the child reaches the age of 18 or in some cases, 21. For more information on what it is and how to claim it, see here.

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