The UAE is a great place for career-minded expats with high salaries and quality accommodation, but utility and household-running costs are a worry. The survey findings from HSBC’s Expat Explorer Report 2014 made headlines and were discussed at dinner parties around the country last month.
The UAE is emerging as one of the costlier expat destinations with more than half of those surveyed saying they would leave because it is too expensive, particularly as a result of fast-rising rents. Here are some tips to end the month with cash in hand.
Move your money from a current account to an esaver account, after keeping the bare minimum for monthly expenses. Emirates Islamic offers up to 2 per cent a year expected profit on esavings accounts. Maintaining as little as Dh5,000 could earn you Dh100 extra annually, while staying liquid.
If you’re racking up large bills on your mobile, it’s time to rethink your usage. Switch to a per-second plan or check out the options offered by Etisalat or Du, which include a favourite number or making international calls during off-peak hours.
Get paid for paying your bills. Emirates Islamic’s cashback card offers 10 per cent cashback on telecom, internet and TV subscription spends up to Dh1,000 at Etisalat and du. Better still, the card is free for the first year. Mashreq offers a 5 per cent cashback on utility bills while Standard Chartered offers up to 10 per cent cashback. Minimum spends may apply.
UAE restaurants offer a great choice of cuisines, but midweek lunches and weekend dinners can rack up your monthly expenses. The Entertainer offers two-for-one vouchers at hotels, restaurants, spas and gyms.
Grocery bills are another large household expense and buying organic can be expensive. The Organic Foods & Café offers 20 per cent off on groceries every third weekend of the month, while local cooperatives such as Union Co-op also offer great organic produce. Most supermarkets also offer loyalty programmes and points with co-branded cards that reward you for every purchase. When buying household items such as tissues, opt for supermarket-branded products for better value.
Impulse saving anyone? Emirates NBD allows customers to shake n’ save via a mobile app. The idea is to make the act of saving fun anywhere as you don’t need to log into your bank account. Saving smaller amounts — i.e. Dh50-Dh2,000 — more frequently with a 2 per cent interest adds up to a chunky balance without impacting your spending.
Take a break from your expensive gym membership and enjoy the weather by working out outdoors. The Beach at JBR has free fixed exercise equipment including an ab-crunching machine, dip bars, lateral pull-down machine and more.
Cinemas also offer great deals on movie tickets. Du offers customers two tickets for the price of one every Tuesday. Emirates NBD Go4it Platinum or Gold credit-card holders get a Dh30 discount on two Vox tickets. HSBC Premier, Platinum and Advance Credit cards also offer a two-for-one deal.
Shop online to save on time, driving and parking. Several stores, such as those owned by the Landmark Group, have web-exclusive offers, while meal delivery websites such as Foodonclick.com offer exclusive discounts from many restaurants.
Make your savings work harder through one of the many programmes that combines them with rewards. For just Dh100, you can invest in National Bonds to earn annual profits and the chance to win any of 525,684 rewards annually. Emirates Islamic’s Kunooz programme offers three daily cash prizes of Dh5,000 each and a monthly prize draw of either Dh1 million, an apartment or a car, as well as annual profits based on a minimum balance. A minimum balance in Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank’s Millionaire Destiny Savings Account offers customers the chance to win Dh1 million monthly or one of ten Dh10,000 prizes, in addition to profits.
According to Dewa, turning the temperature dial up by even one degree can help cut 9 per cent off air conditioning bills. Make the most of the cool weather and set your AC to
the recommended 23°C. Better yet, switch it off entirely — research shows that living
in an AC envelope isn’t beneficial to your health.