If you've ever lived overseas, or travelled overseas for any length of time, you have needed to convert your US dollars to local currency. There are huge differences in the overall price and/or cost of currency exchange. Paying higher rates isn't going to cost you much if you are just in town for a few days, but even a slightly higher cost will be expensive over time. So, how do you find the best way to exchange money to get the most local currency for your dollars?
Know What You NeedDifferent challenges will require different solutions. Do you need a small amount of money for tips and incidentals on a short trip, or do you need to pay household bills every month for a few years? Also, everyone has a different balance between convenience and cost. For short trips, I'm willing to pay a little more to get the right amount of local currency at the time I need it. For larger obligations, I will jump through hoops to save a chunk of change.
Ask AroundEvery location has different options for currency exchange. Chances are, someone has been in your situation before. Check internet sources, ask on Facebook, or query your friends or neighbors to figure out the best choices for your needs.
Think CreativelyFor most locations, there are numerous options for currency exchange. You can take local cash out of an ATM from your dollar account. Some AAFES and Navy Exchange stores offer currency conversion. You can use an online exchange service such as xe.com. In some locations, you can open an account at the Department of Defense's Community Bank. Some countries have fantastic currency exchange companies. You can even have your money delivered to your departure airport.
I bet some of my readers have other suggestions for converting your money. I'd love to hear them!