I have two semi-written posts, but I need to vent first. I’ve been spending the venting on the phone (at international rates!) and things are NOT going well. Sometimes living abroad sucks.

First, I just found out Bank of America just closed my stock account. When I got around to changing the address on that account I foolishly decided to give them the address here instead of my in-laws’ US address. (I changed it on the phone. With a bank person. Who apparently didn’t know enough to warn me. Apparently you can only have one if you have a legal address in the US. I have NO FUCKING idea what my legal address is, in fact. They guy on the phone at BoA seems to think it’s the one you put on tax forms. Don’t know what that is either, since the company handled our taxes. They could have used a corporate US address (Rudder’s on an expat contract) or they could have used ours here. If we don’t have a legal US address, my options are to either open a Dutch account and transfer my securities to it (a level of complexity I *REALLY* don’t want to face if we’re only here one year) or sell my stocks and take a check and put it in my regular bank account.

Then I began working on changing my 401(k) addresses. (Yes, I have been delinquent. Haven’t been rolling them over as I should, either so I have several.) The first one, the firm I want to change to an IRA and roll everything else into, went smoothly. They emailed me the forms, no problem. Then there’s the one I can’t reach, the one where the company seems to have closed (and transferred to a different 401(k) company right before they did, and the last place I worked, which was almost the worst.

Actually the second of those (where the company closed) went well once I found the correct phone number for the new 401 (k) place. For my last company, who manage their own stuff, it’s partly my own fault. I can’t find my PIN – there are three digits instead of four on my PDA so I must have deleted one by mistake and obviously I can’t just have them send out a new one. So first I have to change the address, which requires sending a letter of intent, a copy of my driver’s license (fortunately I still have a US one) and a copy of a utility bill with my current address on it. Guess what I don’t have? All of our rent, utilities, etc. are handled by the corporate office. They finally grudgingly agreed to accept a bank statement with the current address on it. (Come to think of it, I forgot to ask if a copy is acceptable. It better be.)

This is all so hard. And so annoyingly my own fault. Let this be a lesson to you, children: always roll over your 401(k) as soon as you leave a job. Yes, I know lots of people don’t even have 401(k)s and here I am whining about transferring one. But you know what else is really scary? The prospect of not being able to access your own money, that you saved up over years.

LATER: All 401(k)s accessed, all addresses updated. Everything EXCEPT my stock account. All that’s left is to figure out if I have a legal US address; without one I can’t keep a brokerage account or open an IRA and will just have to leave my 401(k)s where they are until I get back to the US. Sigh.

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