How to save money in the UAE Image Credit: GN

  • Bottled water
  • Wasted food
  • Television 
  • Your coffee habit


In 2019 many people's resolutions include saving money and becoming more conscious about our spending.

Here are some ways we can make small changes that will save some money.

1. Bottled Water

The five-gallon water bottle is difficult to lift for some with health issues as well as the elderly and women. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Stop buying bottles of water. It is bad for the environment and bad for your wallet. The most cost effective way to drink clean water is to invest in a filter that attaches itself to the tap. Your tap water will be clean enough for you to drink. You can also fill up bottles at home and take them out with you wherever you go. If you’re lucky enough to work at an office with a watercooler, then that saves you lots of money as well. If you are not comfortable using a filter, then opt for those 5 gallon bottles. Over time, this will save you a lot of money and they are recyclable.

2. Bank fees

You need to take your time shopping around for the perfect cards and track down offers. Make sure you get as many freebies as possible. Choose a credit card without any yearly fees. Make sure the interest is low too! Also pay your bills on time! You don’t want to be charged any late fees. Consider setting up an automated payment online so everything is always paid off at once. Only withdraw cash from machines that belong to your bank. That Dh2.50 service fee will add up over the year. 

3. Wasted food

According to a survey done by Keepeat, an average person in the UAE wastes about 2.7 kilograms of food every day. People in the UAE waste nearly Dh15 billion worth of food every year. Cafes and restaurants are responsible for 35 per cent of that number. One of the best ways to avoid food wastage is to plan your meals ahead of time. Just think about how much money you lose every year wasting the food you buy and don't eat from the super market. If you stick to a list, you won’t buy things you don’t need. You also have to be realistic with yourself. Will you eat these vegetables? Or is it wishful thinking? Lastly make sure you stock your fridge in a way that everything is visible, so you don’t forget you bought it.

4. TV you don’t watch

Ask yourself when you actually have time to watch TV? Most of us pay an average of Dh250 a month to our cable provider and we often don’t take full advantage of the service. Instead, get yourself a TV show streaming account, which will cost you Dh30 a month instead. That’s over Dh200 worth of savings a month. Connect your lap top to your TV if you prefer a big screen.

5. Buying lunch every day

Eating out can add up quickly. Especially if you order to your office. Preparing food at home is a great way to save money. Packing your own lunch is also a better way to stay healthy, since you know exactly what goes into your food. Ordering food or eating out regularly should be a big thing to give up, if you want to really hit some financial targets this year. Pack your lunch as much as you can.

6. Pre-sliced food

Sometimes you pay for the convenience. But pre-sliced food is actually more expensive. Cheeses, veggies and cured meats are much cheaper if you buy them and slice on your own. Might take more time, but the savings will be evident.

7. Brand-name products

If you’re in a grocery store, try going for their generic and local brands, which cost less than imported items. It’s an easy way to save money over time, since store brands cost around 30 per cent less than international brands. Of course not everything should be generic, just decide on what you are willing to sacrifice. You should also consider buying generic medicine, rather than brand names as well. Generic medicines are generally cheaper than their branded counterparts by more than 60 per cent. Make the switch, but read the lable to make sure it is exactly the drug that you need. 

8. Daily coffee

Your daily Dh12 latte can brighten up your morning, but it does very little for your budget. Consider buying your own coffee maker like a French press so you can brew your favourite coffee at home and take with you during your commute. A bottle of coffee granules or tea bags, which you can use with hot water while at work, is a great alternative.

Craving cappuccino? All you need is a Dh4 coffee beater from Ikea. It is smaller and thinner than your hair brush - so carry it to work, froth up some instant coffee and milk for some 'office-made' cappuccino.

9. An expensive mobile plan

Do not be pressured to sign up for 12 or 24-month contract to always be online or ready to make calls. Du, Etisalat and virgin mobile offers different daily, weekly and monthly bundles so you can be active on social media, surf the web and make calls both locally and internationally. take your time shopping around and picking what is right for you. 

10. Start using internet coupons

It is possible to dine out and experience activities with your family without paying full price when you live in the UAE. Whether it's Groupon, Entertainer or Beam, get familiar with apps that help you save money, while shopping in the UAE. 

11. Don’t buy everything new

There is a vibrant online community in the UAE selling pre-loved, good quality things. Whether you want new clothes, firniture, electronics and even a new car! Buying used not only saves serious money, it also happens to be one of the best ways to be environmentally friendly.