Budgeting and saving money step by step
Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Some UAE residents Gulf News spoke to said they are spending up to 90 per cent of their monthly income on rent, school fees, food, entertainment and towards their household expenses.

Close on the heels of the UAE announcing on Sunday (August 25), that accommodation and food services contributed to a 4.2 per cent growth in UAE’s GDP in 2018, Gulf News decided to speak to a few residents to see what percentage of their salaries go towards their monthly maintenance. 

According to figures revealed by Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FCSA), accommodation and food services contribution spiked from Dh28.5 billlion in 2016 to Dh31.2 billion in 2017, before hitting Dh32.5 billion last year.

Accommodation and food services contributed Dh32.5 billion in real prices to the UAE’s GDP growth in 2018, marking a 4.2 percent growth on year, revealed the according to the FCSA.

The Authority also said : “The overall improvement in economic performance is driven by the successful diversification policy adopted by the UAE government over the past years and the successive gains made by the manufacturing activities along with the growth in knowledge-based industries, including aviation, space, transportation, logistics, FinTech, renewable energy, tourism, and other shared platforms.”

Residents speak

At Gulf News we decided to do a little survey ourselves by talking to residents of various backgrounds and nationalities to try and understand how much they are spending out of their monthly income towards running the household. While the residents did not share their monthly income details, they however, did give us an insight into their monthly budget and spend.

Take a look at what they said.

Sri Lankan expat, Suresh Gunathilaka, who works in the insurance industry told Gulf News, he spends close to 90 per cent of his income towards maintaining his family. “My monthly percentage-wise break-down of expenses is as follows. Almost 25 per cent of my income goes towards rent, 15 per cent on education for my children, 20 per cent on grocery and 10 per cent on entertainment. I try and save whatever is left,” said Gunathilaka

Gunathilaka said his family comprises his wife Ishani, son – Dihain (9), daughters Aranya (4) and Dhayara (1).

In the case of this Egyptian family too it is the same.

Nermeen Selim (37) said the family-of-four including a baby spend as much as 90 per cent of the family’s income on food, accommodation, rent and entertainment. Sharing a percentage wise break-down of their expenses, Selim said: "If you want to lead a good life in the UAE, you need to spend this much." Giving a break-down of where the money goes, Selim said: "A good 35 per goes towards rent, 10 per cent towards school fees. Another 35 per cent goes towards groceries, electricity and another 10 per cent towards entertainment. We have two young children. They have to be kept entertained,” she said. 

Selim’s husband Khaled Waheed is a soft-ware engineer. Selim too is a qualified software engineer but is currently not working as she is taking care of her 10-month-old son Adam Khaled. Her older son Hamza Khaled is six years of age, attending Grade 1 at a school in Abu Dhabi.

Pakistani expat Khurram Hanif, 39, said he spends as much as half of his salary towards school fees, rent, food and entertainment. Hanif who lives in the UAE with his wife Shoaa Khurram, 37, daughters Safia Khurram Daughter 16 and Shahpara Khurram 7, this is the minimum spend every month. “It can go higher sometimes. We do not compromise on our life-style. We have a domestic help and the spend includes such expenses,” said Hanif who works as an MEP director in Dubai.

For Indian expat Dr. Poonam Sharma (47), who lives in Dubai with her husband Dr. Vivek Sharma (50) and daughter Vinti Sharma (17), the family spends 75 per cent of their monthly income. "Saving amounts to merely 20 to 25 per cent,” said Sharma.

She and her husband Dr. Vivek work as doctors in Dubai. “Twenty per cent of our income goes towards rent, school fees take up ten per cent of our income, groceries another 15 per cent, entertainment and travel another 20 per cent.”

Filipino expat Jimmy Lapingcao said as his family of three with a seven-year-old school going child, the family spends as much as 54 per cent of their income towards running expenses of the house, education, rent etc. Lapingcao’s wife Swendy Lapingcao and son Uzziel Jas Lapingcao live with him here in the UAE. Lapingcao, who works as a senior fire consultant in Abu Dhabi, said: “The rent takes up 18 per cent of my salary, education - seven per cent, another 29 per cent towards groceries, food, water and electricity, entertainment.

British expat Kayleigh Houghton, 31, said: “We spend close to 65 per cent of our income. As a family of four including a baby, our monthly expense breakdown is as follows. Rent is 35 per cent, school fees for a six-year-old child up to five per cent. Groceries, electricity and extras take up another ten per cent. We spend as much as 15 per cent on entertainment," she said. 

Houghton and her husband Gary both work as project managers in the UAE. “We are left with 35 per cent of our income which goes towards saving.”