How to save money on a limited budget

Krysia McKechnie Krysia McKechnie 7th Jan 2019

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The start of a new year is a great time to review your finances. Living and working in Dubai means many people have more disposable income than they did in their home countries and if you’re disciplined, this can translate into a healthy savings pot. However, it’s easy to lose track and end up saving nothing at all. Lots of people begin with good intentions, only to find themselves in a muddle halfway through the year. Follow our savings tips below and start on the path to financial stability.

Budget

Break down all your outgoings line by line. Rent/housing, bills, food, transportation, family support etc. Write an amount next to each one and then add it up. Hopefully this is less than your total salary. From what’s left, work out reasonably what you can afford to save.

Track expenses

Those using the NOW Money app can easily track all of their spending in one place as all transactions are recorded. However, for cash spending you can just use pencil and paper. Jot down every time you make a purchase. If you can see what you’re spending, it’s easier to see where you can make savings. Take out or restaurant food is a lot more expensive than buying food and cooking at home. Similarly, taking taxis can deplete your cash reserves a lot faster than the metro.

Set money aside

When you’ve worked out your budget and how much you can save, plan to set this amount aside each month. This should ideally be a minimum of 10% of your salary. The phrase ‘pay yourself first’ is a good one to remember. Essentially it means paying your savings first and then spending what’s leftover, rather than saving what’s left after you’ve finished spending.

Decide where to save

It’s important to work out where you will deposit your nest egg. Cash is not the best option as it’s too easy to dip into if you’re running a bit short one month. Also, if you live in shared accommodation, cash is a temptation to thieves. A good place to store your money is in a UAE savings account, however there are usually minimum salary requirements, which can exclude a lot of low-income people.  Another option would be to open a savings account in your home country although beware, some of your savings will be lost in foreign exchange fees. Those using NOW Money can keep their savings secure in their UAE-based account, which has no minimum salary requirements.

If you earn over AED 1,000 a month, you can also invest in UAE Bonds from as little as AED 100. Whilst you won’t earn interest, you will be eligible for cash prizes of up to AED 1 million!

Be disciplined about spending

In Dubai there are lots of temptations to spend. Trips to the mall, going to a restaurant or buying take away food as well as days out can all seriously dent your savings. If you’re targeting a certain number for your savings pot, keep spending to a minimum and be strict about what you buy. Your future self will thank you, even if it’s tough going without the fun stuff for a while.

Say no to family demands

This is the hardest part of saving for yourself. Families often perceive those working abroad as having a lot of money and expect to receive money either as regular payment or when you go home for a visit. Whilst you shouldn’t feel you need to cut family off completely, especially if they are the reason you’re in the UAE, it might be worth reminding them you also need to save for your own future.

Not everyone can save as much as they would like to but with hard work and discipline, you should be able to at least put something by. No one wants to leave Dubai without any savings and the best way to ensure that happens is to start today and make this the year that you build your financial future.

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