16 April 2018
If you are reading this article, you are probably one of the many expatriates in Singapore who are faced with this question when you have finished your tenure in Singapore and are returning to your home country.
Although this is not an easy question to answer due to various factors including individual personal circumstances, MoolahGo has come up with a simple guide below which we hope could help you in deciding what to do with the Singapore Dollars (“SGD”) which you have accumulated during your time in Singapore (or in any other country for that matter).
First, ask yourself this question: Do I have any outstanding commitments in Singapore? Outstanding commitments may include a SGD-denominated loan such as a home loan, car loan or a personal credit line. Commitments may also mean expenses in Singapore that you need to pay on a regular basis such as personal Income Tax, Property Tax or Property Management Fees.
If the answer to the above question is Yes, you should then forecast how much SGD you would need to be able to cover these commitments for the next few months. What is the ideal time period that you should cater for is a personal choice, although our view is that it should be at least up to 6 months or longer where possible.
If the answer to above question is No, it would most likely make sense for you to repatriate your funds back to your home country and close your bank accounts in Singapore as most banks in Singapore do charge a minimum balance fall-below fee. However, for those who are more investment savvy, you may also want to compare investment opportunities in Singapore with that in your home country to evaluate which location could generate higher returns for your funds. We won’t go too much into the topic of investment in this article as you should always seek professional advice from an investment manager to help you with your investment decisions.
To repatriate your funds back to your home country, MoolahGo (www.moolahgo.com) is able to help you to send your funds using fair exchange rates. Unlike banks or other money transfer operators, MoolahGo does not earn from exchange rates and is therefore able to offer fair rates. MoolahGo only earns a small amount of service fees. Besides good rates and low cost, sending your money home with MoolahGo is also safe as it is a Financial Technology (“Fintech”) company which is licensed and regulated by one of the most stringent central banks in Asia, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”). It is also more rewarding to transact using MoolahGo. As at the time of this writing, MoolahGo rewards its users 1 GO7Coin (GO7Club is the name of MoolahGo’s reward programme which awards GO7Coins) for every S$10 transacted. GO7Coins can be redeemed into vouchers at popular merchants. Speed is also another benefit that MoolahGo prides itself. Generally, funds can be received within 1 to 2 business days. In certain cases, recipients have also been able to receive funds on the same day.
Once you have estimated the amount of SGD that you would like to maintain in Singapore for your outstanding commitments, and if you are lucky enough to find yourself with excess SGD, you should then ask yourself if you have a need for this funds in your home country. If you do, and the amount is less than SGD2,000, you could either send the money home using MoolahGo as mentioned above or convert the SGD into your home currency to bring home with you. But if this excess amount is more than SGD2,000, we recommend that you use MoolahGo’s money-transfer service instead to send your money home rather than to bring home with you a stack of physical cash which may pose safety and security issues. You should also take note that the Singapore Customs require you to make a declaration if you are exporting more than SGD20,000 or equivalent in foreign currency (link). SGD 2,000 in our opinion is a good threshold to decide if one should convert or transfer money, taking into consideration convenience versus safety of carrying large amounts of physical cash.
MoolahGo provides a very competitive currency exchange service. As a proof, a check against the popular money-changer rate comparison website in Singapore, Get4x, shows that MoolahGo is on the top of the list for majority of the common currencies (e.g.: Japanese Yen, South Korean Won, Hong Kong Dollars, US Dollar, British Pounds, etc.).
And similar to its money transfer service, MoolahGo uses fair exchange rates to convert currencies for users while charging a small service fees. And likewise, for every S$10 transaction which you perform, you get 1 GO7Coin.
If you find yourself having more than SGD 2,000 and you do not need this sum of money in your home country, you may take one or more of these options.
Depending on the amount, you could look to investing your money in a safe and highly liquid instrument such as a Fixed Deposit with a Singapore bank. But if you are more adventurous and a risk-taker, you may look into other forms of investments such as stocks, bonds or funds. In this case, we would recommend that you speak to your trusted Banker for professional advice to determine the most appropriate investment for your specific needs.
Giving back to the society is always a worthy act. You may use a portion of your excess money to donate for a good cause such as for research and development to cure diseases, relief poverty or hunger, animal welfare and others. In some cases, doing good would also benefit yourself. If you are a taxpayer in Singapore, donating to certain charities allow you to benefit from tax reliefs. For a list of donations that you could make, you may refer to the Singapore National donations portal giving.sg.
This is also an option. Just keep your money in a savings account with a Singapore bank. Interest is usually payable on a savings account albeit low (for example, DBS Bank pays an interest of 0.05% for amounts up to SGD350,000 as at the time of this writing). As with investments, you may want to talk to your banker about potential risks of keeping your money in a savings account.