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Exchange Rates and Spending

January 10th, 2013 at 07:29 pm

As I've said many times, I am a US citizen living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I have lived overseas for maybe 12 years in total over the last 35 years. You would think I would be used to different monies, and for the most part you would be correct. I can easily convert from one currency to another in my head, as I've traveled extensively and it is imperative that you be able to do such calculations to enable you to both stay on budget as well as not get ripped off in marketplaces.

The interesting part is that even though I know that 99 Dirhams (the local currency) is just a bit more than 25 US dollars (around $27), in my head I still THINK of it as if it were ninety-nine dollars.

Tomorrow, our "Saturday" - which is actually Friday on the calendar, but it is the first day of our weekend - DW and I have plans to meet some friends for a mid-day brunch. The whole gig costs 99 Dirhams per person for food and drink, but in my head I cannot help but think that we're paying nearly $200 for a day's entertainment and food.

This has the beneficial effect that I tend to buy less than I otherwise would. When I see apples for 14.50 per kilogram, I immediately think "$6.50 per pound for apples is a LOT of money" - my head also automatically converts metric to "real" units of measure such as we use in the US. Of course, it's really about $1.75 per pound as the 6.50 represents the local Dirham currency, which is still a lot of money for a pound of apples, but not nearly as bad as my head automatically applies to the price.

Too bad I can't transfer this to the US when I return. When I get back, $1.00 per pound for apples is going to be $1.00 per pound, and no brain-tricks are going to be able to help me.

Just as an aside, typical apples imported from the US can cost twice as much over here. Red Delicious from the US are about 29.50 Dhs per Kg, which is about $3.50 per pound.

4 Responses to “Exchange Rates and Spending”

  1. SecretarySaving Says:

    I think that post just made me appreciate eating apples

  2. Amber Says:

    Wow! I'm the exact same way when traveling to Jamaica. It's a little scary because I think now for ever U.S dollar over there it's like $80 JA dollars but I cringe at the thought of spending a few hundred JA dollars for cereal.

  3. snafu Says:

    LOL, I have the same reaction when doing contract work in Thailand. Ratio 30B: $1. I know I need to divide by three after all that back & forth bargaining but choke when buying a transit card or something with a standard fee. I sure have 'sticker shock' when I get back home and see retail markups of 2000%.

  4. creditcardfree Says:

    Seems to point to the fact, that whichever currency we grow up with tends to be our point of reference. Have a fun weekend outing!

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