Your Finances

Figuring Your Monthly Expenses

You will need money on hand to meet your first month's expenses. We recommend that you use a credit or debit card or travelers checks rather than carry large amounts of cash. 

If you are on the UT Southwestern Medical Center payroll, you will be paid once per month. If you begin employment before the middle of the month, you will probably receive your paycheck on the first working day of the following month. However, if you begin after the middle of the month, you may not receive a paycheck until the second or third week of the following month. Please plan accordingly.

Estimates of Your First Month's Expenses in the U.S.
Transportation       $20–$50 per day
Temporary housing or hotel   $70$200 per day
Food/meals   $25/day per person
Tips for taxi, baggage help...   $1$5
Texas ID or Driver's License    $16 or $25 respectively
Apartment rental and deposit   $1,400–$2,000
Electric service set-up    $200 (varies by company and your credit history)
Telephone service set-up       $75 (varies by company and type of plan)
Automobile purchase   $4,500
Automobile insurance   $200 (average)
Health Insurance   $40–$600
Miscellaneous expenses   $75


There are numerous banks in the Dallas area that offer checking accounts, but only a few offer free checking without a substantial minimum balance. Because account policies are subject to change, please call the bank for updated information.

A few of the larger banks in Dallas include:

To open an account, you will need to present identification such as your passport, immigration documents, offer letter verifying your employment, Social Security number, and Texas driver's license or ID card. Your bank may also want to call the International Affairs Office for employment verification.

If you would like to transfer funds to a Dallas bank prior to your arrival, please contact the bank for specific instructions. 

Any check you bring with you to open a bank account, including a cashier's check, may take at least 10 days to clear through most Dallas banks.

Credit Cards

Buying on credit is a popular way to pay for large purchases in the U.S. Credit enables the user to buy items and extend payment over a period of time. However, in addition to paying back the value of the purchase, you will also be required to pay an interest charge. In some cases, this interest charge can be as high as 18 to 24 percent per year. Be careful not to overextend yourself when buying on credit.

Although in theory anyone can apply for credit cards, major companies like American Express, Mastercard, and Visa only issue them to individuals who are able to provide proof of substantial annual income and a credit history in the U.S. To establish credit, you must first buy something on credit and pay for it over several months. Some banks offer secured credit cards, which allow you to establish credit using your own money as the balance.

Applying for a credit card at the same bank where you have a savings and/or checking account may also be helpful.

Many of our foreign visitors have found it helpful and more convenient to obtain an international credit card in their home country, where they have already established credit.

Learn more about establishing credit in the United States