Save money in Abu Dhabi

Need to get your financial affairs in order? Here’s how... Discuss this article

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Let’s face it, in spite of the pretty beaches, cheap taxis and warm weather, the real reason many of us probably moved to Abu Dhabi was to put away some money. But many of us find ourselves frittering away substantial salaries on everything from days in the mall to expensive evenings out.

The trick is to understand how best to manage your money here in the capital, whether it’s through knowing the banking options available to you, managing your own finances properly or making the most of Islamic banking.

Top 10
Tips for managing your money

1 Find out what you’re spending money on
It might sound obvious, but it’s helpful to make a breakdown of where you spend most of your salary – and it may not be where you think. Spend a week making a note of everything you buy, even the small things. Don’t cheat and be more frugal than usual! You might find out that buying coffee a few times a day is where the majority of your spending money is going each week. You’ll end up with a clear picture of your spending habits – which is the best place to start if you’re planning on changing them.

2 Cut out unnecessary expenses
If you realise you’re spending more than a couple of hundred dirhams a week on unnecessary expenses, be ruthless and chop them all out of your routine. This could be anything from cigarettes to after-work drinks, from taking taxis to Dubai to going clothes shopping in your lunch break. If you make a plan to find ways around these spending habits, including both the big and small expenses, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll start saving immediately. As time goes on, you’ll form new habits and no longer feel as though you’re missing out on the treats you were used to.

3 Set a savings target
Once you’ve determined where you could be cutting back you can work out how much of your money you can afford to save each month and transfer it into a separate account. Once it’s out of sight, and out of mind so to speak, you won’t be as tempted to spend it. If you find it difficult to stick to the amount you’ve set yourself, try taking just cash with you on a daily basis. Bring with you only what you’re planning to spend that day and leave the bank card at home. Temptation removed.

4 Work together
If you share rent, meals, bills or other expenses with flatmates, take half an hour to sit down with them and work out where you could all be cutting back, be it on buying cheaper groceries or using less electricity around your home. The same goes for family budgeting, particularly if you have a joint bank account. Make sure you and your partner are aware of what the other is spending and see eye-to-eye on what your saving targets are. You could be saving yourselves some uncomfortable conversations further down the line if you realise your budgeting ideas are very different!

5 Plan for the unexpected
There’s nothing more depressing than, each month, squirreling away money for a house deposit, holiday or new car, just to see it all swallowed up when you have to make an unexpected payment for something far less fun. We’ve all been caught out from time to time with a forgotten bill or house repairs for example, and it can be very demotivating to watch your nest egg dwindle away. So as well as your regular savings, create a separate fund for these occasions, then it will feel like less of a sting when you have to fork out.

6 Make sure you have a target
It’s hard to put away money just ‘for a rainy day’. Instead, focus on what you’ll use your savings for in the future. This could be anything from long-term targets such as your kids’ education to short term treats – forgo 10 trips to Starbuck’s and spend the money you save on a new pair of shoes.

7 Reduce your major annual expenses
Work out what your biggest major expenses are each year and think of ways to avoid them. Many people save up for a holiday each year and spend an inordinate amount on flights and hotel rooms. You might find you have just as much fun staying in Abu Dhabi and treating yourself to some fabulous dinners, days at the beach, boat trips or nights out. You’ll save a fortune even while you feel like you’re treating yourself.

8 Don’t try keeping up with the Joneses
This is a very money-driven city, and displays of wealth that would be considered enormously crass elsewhere can almost seem par for the course in Abu Dhabi. Sporting wildly expensive watches, driving fancy cars or ordering bottles of vintage bubbly aren’t unusual in certain areas of town, and it can feel like there is enormous pressure to keep up with the luxury lifestyle that many in the city enjoy. But if you don’t have the paycheck to suit, don’t feel like you need to invest in the same status symbols. You won’t be doing yourself any favours long-term.

9 Make sure your bank suits your lifestyle
Get stuck into the nitty gritty of what your bank offers you as a customer. If you’re abroad often, make sure there aren’t high charges for taking out money overseas. If you’re using your account for large savings, look into moving the money to a high interest account. Find out if any of their incentives, such as credit card points or discounts in certain stores, will help save you money.

10 Reward yourself
It doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom. If you’ve done well and hit your savings target for the month, buy yourself a small ‘well done’ present, whether it’s a book or a meal out with friends. Giving yourself a pat on the back will motivate you for the month ahead and make you feel like the scrimping and the saving is worth it.

By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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