Dubai can be an expensive city to live in and if you aren't careful you might end up with less than what you came here with.
The allure of our city sometimes tempts the will power of even the strongest among us; whether it's a few dirhams on that skirt you've been eyeing, or just being lazy and ordering out every night. Here are our top tips:
Begin at the beginning
The start of the month (or whenever is pay day) is usually the most crucial to save, as it can make or break your financial sanity for that month. If you do not have a separate bank account in Dubai, send that money home or deposit in a bank account here, no matter how small the amount.
Initially you may be tempted to use that money, but once you see the significant collection you've made, you will not only be proud but can soon make it a healthy habit. Do not wait for the end of the month to save money, so make smart choices.
Spending nights differently
While it is nice to have a fun night out, it doesn't always mean that you need to spend a small fortune every time you step out. Make smart decisions on where you are going. Find places with weekend deals or a hotel with ladies nights. Choose alternatives like a potluck at a friend's house or game night rather than a sweaty and expensive club with no room to move. Change the way you think about night outs or weekends as a time to unwind and relax. Are your Instagram pictures worth the fortune spent in money and time?
Sell, sell, and sell
A great and easy way to make some extra cash to save for later is to sell junk around your house you don't use. We have a guide on the best outlets to sell your used but not abused stuff online for money.
Also, groups on Facebook have people looking for everything from books to clothes and furniture to baby items. Sell clothes that no longer fit you or you never really liked. Book a table at the local flea market, by logging onto the Dubai Flea Market website or even one of the Ripe markets. You could also share a stall with a friend and make a fun evening out of it. You will not only be making money on the weekend instead of spending it but also have fun doing it.
Draw some boundaries
Just like children, sometimes we need boundaries too. So, if you know a trip to Dubai Mall is going to lead to unnecessary expenditure, avoid it. Do not push yourself too much in one month as this may lead to you ending up binging the next month. Make conscious efforts to avoid expenses that only provide a temporary high.
If you've been craving to buy something, do it, but remember that's your treat for the month and choose wisely. Allow yourself some leeway. Choose less expensive options, for example, if all your friends are going for that one sold-out concert, you can opt for a cooking class or meet another friend to spend some quality time, rather than shoot half your month's salary in one night.
Voice your opinion
More often than not, one has friends who do make a significantly higher amount of money. There is no obligation to follow all their plans, because at the end of the month it is only you who has to face the financial crunch. Voice your suggestions beforehand on places to go and the budget you’re ready to spend.
If their weekend plans seem too pricey for you, work out a budget you are willing to spend on weekends and other luxuries, and stick to it. Let your close friends know that you wouldn't enjoy spending the money or simply make an excuse and sit that one out.
Throw away credit cards
However much we would like to believe in that 'magic' card where we can buy everything our heart desires, and deal with it later, reality strikes when the bills pile on.
Use a debit card or an ATM anytime you need cash, at least this way you are only spending the money you possess and have no impending bills or debts waiting for you.
Avoid borrowing or lending money
It is often said that it isn’t safe or nice to lend or borrow money between family and friends, but sometimes we can't help circumstances. We may borrow money from a friend, who probably feels too guilty to say no to you. This could not only lead to unhealthy habits, but will also strain relationships.
If you don't have the money, it is a good lesson to learn to save rather than going to a friend. In a scenario that you absolutely need to borrow, make sure you pay it back first before any other expenses. Similarly, if you have someone who borrows money from you constantly, make excuses and avoid lending them any; they will soon get the hint and start making smarter choices.
Most of us here are expats away from our home and families for the primary goal to work hard and make money to save for our future and families back home. Start small, but keep at it and you will be proud a few months down the line with how much you’ve saved.
- Sanobar Mistry is a freelance journalist living and working in the UAE