Making the Most of a Weak AUD - Top Strategies for Australian Expats

Have you ever glanced at the exchange rate and felt a pang of concern seeing the Australian dollar (AUD) on the weaker side? If you're an Australian expat, this might initially seem like bad news. But what if you could turn this situation to your advantage? With the right strategies, a weak AUD can present unique financial opportunities for you. Let's dive in and explore how you can make the most of this situation.

1. Concessional Super Contributions

Firstly, let's talk about your superannuation. You're probably already familiar with the concept of concessional super contributions. Concessional contributions are usually made by Australian expats via a voluntary contribution to superannuation and ensuring that the super fund treats it as a concessional contribution. These contributions are then taxed at a concessional rate of 15%, which is likely lower than your marginal tax rate. By making these contributions, especially when the AUD is weak, you can get more value for your overseas earnings.

Benefits: The primary advantage of making concessional contributions is the tax benefit. Instead of being taxed at your marginal rate as a non-resident of Australia, these contributions are taxed at just 15%. With the current concessional contribution limit set at A$27,500 per year, you could potentially save a significant amount in taxes if you have a positively geared investment property, or realised a capital gain for example.

Case Study: Imagine you're an expat earning a substantial income overseas. By strategically salary sacrificing and utilising the full A$27,500 limit, especially when the AUD is weak, you can boost your super balance considerably. This is because your overseas earnings will convert to more Australian dollars, allowing you to contribute more without reaching the cap.

2. Non-Concessional Super Contributions

Now, let's discuss non-concessional contributions. These are after-tax contributions you make to your super, and they don't come with the same tax benefits as concessional contributions. However, they have their own set of advantages. Unlike concessional contributions, non-concessional contributions come from your after-tax income. Since you've already paid tax on this money, it enters your super fund tax-free. The advantage here is the higher cap, allowing you to bolster your super balance significantly, especially beneficial when the AUD is weak and your foreign currency can buy more AUD.

Benefits: The primary allure here is the higher contribution limit. You can contribute up to A$110,000 per year in non-concessional contributions. This means if you have substantial savings or have come into a windfall, you can quickly bolster your super balance.

Case Study: Consider this – you've sold a property overseas and have a considerable sum at your disposal. With the AUD currently at US$0.64, your US dollars will fetch you more Australian dollars. By making a lump sum non-concessional contribution during this period, you can get more bang for your buck.

3. Investing in ASX Shares

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is a treasure trove of investment opportunities. With the AUD being weak, it could be an excellent time for you to consider investing. When you invest in shares, you're essentially buying a piece of a company. As the company performs well, the value of your shares can increase. Additionally, many companies pay dividends – a share of the profits distributed to shareholders. With a weak AUD, your foreign income can purchase more shares, potentially leading to higher dividends and capital gains.

Benefits: ASX shares offer potential capital growth and dividends. With the AUD's current position, your foreign income can purchase more shares, setting you up for higher returns when the AUD recovers.

Case Study: Picture this – you started investing in ASX shares when the AUD was stronger. Now, with the currency's decline, your dividends and potential capital gains from these shares, when converted to your foreign currency, could be significantly higher.

4. Investing in AUD-Domiciled Assets

AUD-domiciled assets are investments based in Australia but priced in AUD. Think of bonds or certain managed funds. When you invest in these assets during a weak AUD phase, you're essentially getting more assets for your foreign currency. As the AUD strengthens, the value of these assets in foreign currency terms can increase, leading to potential profits when you decide to liquidate or receive pay-outs.

Benefits: These assets can provide stable returns. With the AUD's current rate, you can invest more heavily, and when the AUD strengthens, your returns could amplify.

Case Study: You've always been keen on diversifying your portfolio. Investing in AUD-domiciled assets during this weak AUD phase means you're buying more assets for less. As the AUD strengthens, the value of these assets in your foreign currency could soar.

5. Paying Off Your HECS/HELP Student Loan

Remember that student loan you took out? With the AUD's current position, it might be an opportune time to chip away at it or even clear it off. The HECS/HELP loan system is indexed to inflation, meaning the amount you owe can increase annually. However, with a weak AUD, your foreign earnings can cover more of your debt. By making larger repayments during this period, you can reduce the principal faster, leading to savings on the indexed amount in the long run.

Benefits: By paying off your HECS/HELP loan now, you could save on interest in the long run. Plus, there's the undeniable relief of being free from debt.

Case Study: You've been diligently paying off your student loan with your overseas earnings. With the AUD at US$0.64, your repayments now cover more of the principal, helping you clear your debt faster.

6. Paying Off Australian Mortgage

If you own property in Australia, consider using the weak AUD to your advantage. Mortgages come with interest, which compounds over time. The more you owe, the more interest you pay. By using your foreign earnings during a weak AUD phase to make extra repayments or even pay off the mortgage, you can save on future interest. This not only reduces the overall amount you pay but can also shorten the life of your loan.

Benefits: Making extra repayments or even paying off your mortgage entirely can save you a significant amount in interest. Plus, the psychological boost of being mortgage-free is priceless.

Case Study: You've been renting out your Australian property while living overseas. With the rental income and your earnings, you decide to make a lump sum payment towards your mortgage. Given the current exchange rate, this decision could save you years off your mortgage.

7. Investing in Australian Property

The Australian property market is always buzzing with opportunities. With the AUD's current stance, you could potentially get a property at a relative bargain. The Australian property market is known for its resilience and potential for long-term growth. When you invest in property, you stand to gain from capital appreciation as property values rise over time. Additionally, if you rent out the property, you can earn rental income. With a weak AUD, your foreign currency can get you property at a relative bargain, and as the AUD strengthens, both rental income and property value can offer substantial returns.

Benefits: Apart from potential capital appreciation, there's rental income and tax advantages to consider.

Case Study: You've been eyeing the Australian property market from afar. With the AUD's current rate, you decide to invest. Fast forward a few years, and not only has your property appreciated, but the rental income, when converted to your foreign currency, has also been consistently higher.

8. Additional Strategies for Expats

While the strategies mentioned above are some of the most effective, always be on the lookout for other opportunities. The world of finance is vast, and there are always new strategies and investment vehicles emerging. From exploring alternative investments like cryptocurrency to considering Australian-based startups, the possibilities are endless. The key is to stay informed, continuously educate yourself, and be ready to adapt to the ever-changing financial landscape.


Navigating the financial world as an Australian expat during a weak AUD phase might seem daunting. But with the right strategies, you can turn this situation to your advantage. Remember, it's not about the challenges but how you respond to them. With careful planning and a proactive approach, you can make the most of a weak AUD.

Have you capitalized on the weak AUD in other ways? Share your experiences in the comments below. And if you found this guide helpful, don't forget to share it with your fellow expats. Together, we can navigate the financial seas with confidence.

To Your Financial Success!


Jarrad Brown is an Australian-trained and qualified Fee-Based Financial Planner Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd providing specialist financial advice and portfolio management services to Australian professionals in Singapore. Jarrad Brown is an Authorised Representative of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd - No: 200305462G | MAS License No: FA100035-3

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General Information Only: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision.

*Please note that Jarrad Brown is not a tax agent or accountant and none of the content outlined here should be taken as personal advice. You should consult your tax agent and financial adviser to review your current personal finances and financial goals to consider whether this strategy is appropriate for you.

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