Tips on Saving Money in Dubai

We all have read (some of us even managed to notice) prices in Dubai going up while salaries staying the same. Yes, at the same time, the articles that the leading magazines and newspapers publish claim that the salaries are expected to rise next year, but who knows whether it will happen. And why wait till next year in order to change your life and start saving?

According to finance comparison website compareit4me, 30 percent of UAE residents don’t have any savings whatsoever. Nothing! I would like to stress out that the famous “living the lifestyle” can easily co-exist with allocating a certain amount of your income to savings, as no one wants to leave Dubai even more broke than when they arrived! It’s a pity to leave the place with nothing but the photos to show for the years you have spent here.  Expats living and working in Dubai, it seems, prefer life in the fast and luxurious lane. However, despite the salaries and expenses packages that lured them to this 21st century metropolis, they all way too often find themselves spending more than they earn.

As a result, we often see miserable social media posts about how banks are now hunting them down for just a few hundred thousand dirhams loan! You might have met those people, they party hard and complain even harder if something happens to their company and they are left with lots of debt. UncoverDubai collected some reasonable tips and tricks that will help you save money, while still enjoying life in Dubai and some good money during your life after Dubai (believe me or not, life after Dubai does exist!)


1. Know your expenses.

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Sometimes spending just 50 dirham here and there, or buying coffee from Starbucks twice a day, seems like an innocent expense, but often, by the end of the month, you might find yourself broke not knowing where all the money went. The solution is easy. Create a weekly or monthly budget, and don’t allow the famous Dubai glitz and luxury cause you lose sight of your long-term financial goals. If collecting all your bills and writing down all your daily expenses seems like something unachievable and way too boring, there is still a solution to that. Just download a budget app, there are plenty of those these days, and note down everything you spend each day.

At the end of the month, the results might come as a shock to you, since you probably didn’t have any idea that you used to spend that much money on mundane things like snacks and coffee. Remember: your plan on saving money begins with knowing what you spend money on. If you don’t know what you did, how will you ever know what to do next?


2. Plan your budget and stick to it.

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Now that you know your expenses, create a monthly budget and stick to it. Remember that rent and DEWA bills might take between 25-35% of your monthly income. It is rather easy to not take these into consideration here in Dubai, where the rent should be paid in just one or two checks in advance.  Add your car or two and sometimes a personal loan and these fixed expenses could easily exceed 50% of your income. We have about 50% to budget then. Don’t focus on an actual sum that you want to save; rather think of the percentage of your monthly income that you waste. What could it be: 15% or maybe 30%?

There are plenty of couples here who manage to save almost 50% of their combined monthly incomes, yet they still manage to have nice cars and don’t have any trouble going out to nice restaurants every other week. Of course, 50% might be a bit too much in your first years, when you have those initial expenses needed to be paid in advance, like cars, furniture and appliances, but if you plan to stay in Dubai for more than two years, once those are paid off, you can easily increase the percentage of your savings.

Saving money needs a solid plan, but nothing complicated. Start with an easy goal, like putting away at least 10% of your income every month and by the end of your stay in Dubai you will have a hefty sum of money on your account.


3. Shop around.

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We all like to shop in Waitrose and Spinneys, but if you want to save money, maybe it’s time to switch the focus.  Try shopping there just for your favorites from back home you can’t get anywhere else and plan your regular shopping journeys to Carrefour or Union Co-op.  You can get 90% of your regular weekly shopping items at any Carrefour at a considerably lower price than in Waitrose and Spinneys, and the New Zealand and Australian meat selection is as good in Carrefour as it is in Spinneys.  Sign up with Carrefour loyalty card, it helps accumulate points, which turn into 50 dhs voucher.

Do some research on local food. It’s cheaper and fresher and you might even discover and fall in love with some new flavors (thumbs up for manakeesh and hummus!).

Buy your fish from the fish markets in Dubai ports: it comes straight off the boats and for some extra money you can get your fish cleaned for you on the spot. In fact, seafood in Dubai is surprisingly good and affordable, and digests better than heavy meat in this weather.

Buying clothes and electronics

Clothes in Dubai can be more expensive than anywhere else in the world, but no need to wear your old outfits all year round. Subscribe to Shop and Ship,  shop your heart out on US or UK Amazon and clothing stores, and have it delivered here. Of course always check prices before ordering on Amazon as surprisingly some things are cheaper here in Dubai, especially when on sale.

Buy electronics and other big items during Ramadan, as many things go on sale. And watch out for sales.
Saving money in Dubai is not that easy with all the temptations around, but it’s definitely achievable with just a little planning. If you need more information, there are lots of books you can read. This budgeting book would be a good start.

And what are your tips and tricks on saving money in Dubai? Do you manage to save anything at all? Share your thoughts with us in your comments!

To be continued…

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