Knowing where to stash your hard-earned cash in a foreign country can be difficult. TOAD speaks to an expert about what to do if you’re an expat looking to open a new bank account.
David Hackett, a senior financial consultant at Acuma, gave us some tips about money management.
What are your recommendations for those looking to change currency? We always recommend to our clients to get some quotes from their banks and currency exchanger when sending money home to ensure they are getting the best available overall exchange. It can be confusing as some institutions don’t charge fees but have very bad exchange rates (up to four per cent difference) while others have good exchange rates but high fees.
The most important question is how much is going to end up in the account that you are sending funds to in your home currency in relation to the amount of the currency you are exchanging.
I personally use a currency broker to exchange and transfer funds home as I have found them to consistently have the best rates.
Is it better to send money home and forfeit a percentage to conversion to be able to accrue interest? That really depends on your goals and your financial commitments in your home country.
One of the strategies we recommend to our clients is to save surplus income in dirhams which is pegged to the US Dollar (it will always buy Dhs3.67) and in the future when the exchange rate of your home currency is more favourable, exchange and transfer the funds. It can make a big difference in the amount that ends up in your account at home.
Can you offer some tips for saving, spending and budgeting? Firstly if you are having trouble saving or want to look to increase your savings establish a budget by keeping records of all your expenditure for a 30-day period, then work out a monthly figure for other annual costs such as holidays, car registration, insurances, school fees and so on.
Next take the monthly expenses away from your income which will ascertain your monthly surplus.
This is an awareness exercise as you will see where the money is going and this will make you think next time you go to brunch, a weekend away or buy that pair of shoes.
Quite often you can increase your savings by simply having a local holiday instead of going home or having takeaway once less a week... it all adds up.
The most important thing is to make the most of the opportunity while we are expats living in a tax-free environment. At Acuma we work closely with our clients based on their goals to put plans and strategies in place to help them achieve their goals and objectives, both short- and long-term. Time Out readers can request a budgeting sheet, email firstname.lastname@example.org or www.acuma.ae (02 443 9941).
Popular banks in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank 24 branches in Abu Dhabi. Open Sat-Thu 8am-7pm. ADCB Head Office building, intersection of Sheikh Zayed Street and Electra, near Abu Dhabi Co-op, www.adcb.com (02 696 2576; toll free 800 2030).
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank 30 branches in Abu Dhabi. Open Sat-Thu 8am-2pm. Bainouna Street, Al Bateen, in front of Al Ghazaly School, www.adib.ae (02 610 0104).
Union National Bank More than 10 branches in Abu Dhabi. Open Sat-Thu 8am-2pm. Corner of Electra and Salam Street, www.unb.co.ae (02 674 1600).
Al Masraf (ARBIFT) Three branches in Abu Dhabi. Open Sat 8am-1pm, Sun-Thu 8am-2pm. Al Masraf Tower, Corner of Salam and Hamdan Street, Tourist Club Area, www.arbift.com (02 672 1900).
Bank of Sharjah One branch in Abu Dhabi. Open Sat-Thu 8am-1pm. Al Mina Street, opposite Mina Hotel, www.bankofsharjah.com (02 679 5555).
Commercial Bank International Three branches in Abu Dhabi Open Sat-Thu 8am-3pm. Sheikh Srour building, next to Ali and Sons, Corniche Road, www.cbiuae.com (02 681 8440).
Commercial Bank of Dubai Five branches in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi Corniche, opposite French Hospital, www.cbd.ae (02 626 8400).
Dubai Islamic Bank Two branches in Abu Dhabi. Open Sat-Thu 8am-1.30pm, near Etisalat building, Airport Road, www.alislami.ae (02 634 6600).
First Gulf Bank Seven branches in Abu Dhabi. Open Sat-Wed 8am-1pm, Thu 8am-noon. Opposite Khuberiah Police Station, Khubeirah, www.fgb.ae (600 525 500).
Emirates NBD 14 branches in Abu Dhabi. Open Sat-Thu 8am-2pm, Electra Street www.emiratesnbd.com (600 540 000).
Emirates Islamic Bank Three branches in Abu Dhabi. Open Sat-Thu 8am-8pm. Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street, near Airport Road, www.emiratesislamicbank.ae (02 446 4000).