Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

9 New Year’s resolutions to keep your UAE lifestyle up and costs down

Simple tips to help you break your spending habits and become a more-effective saver

Hundreds of supermarkets, cafes and food warehouses  were found to have breached public health regulations during inspections by Sharjah Municipality. AFP
Hundreds of supermarkets, cafes and food warehouses  were found to have breached public health regulations during inspections by Sharjah Municipality. AFP

The pressure on family budgets in the UAE is lessening with costs such as rent now falling while salaries are hardly changed.

But harder times for the local economy are also an opportunity to review what you spend so that you can save more. It’s all too easy to become a high-spender in a consumer society, and some expensive habits may be nothing more than that.

You may find that lifestyle changes that lower costs will actually deliver more happiness for your dirham.

If nothing else this is guaranteed to boost your bank balance, a better performance than most investments in financial markets recently.

Here are a few radical 2019 New Year resolutions to consider that will keep your lifestyle up but also bring costs down:

1. Declutter your home and move to a smaller unit

Don’t see lower rents as a reason to upgrade. Stop spending on all that unnecessary storage for your unwanted junk. Reduce your rent or mortgage with a smaller home and all your other household bills too, like electricity, cooling and municipality tax. Life without a garden to maintain and a big villa or apartment to clean may be simpler, and therefore happier.

2. Move closer to community facilities or your job

This will help you save on the cost and time spent travelling around the city. Also, get to know your neighbors a bit better. Human relations cost little and are worth a great deal.

3. Meet your friends and colleagues face-to-face

This will help you spend less on mobile phone calls and texts and allow you to downgrade to a low-cost mobile package deal. Also, send more free emails instead of making long phone calls. You will become more efficient in your work and have more time for leisure.

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4. Change how you drink water

Instead of spending $500 a year on bottled water for your family, buy one of the latest filter jugs available online from the US and Europe. You will get almost identical water for a tenth of the cost and you won’t have to break your back carrying heavy bottles around.

5. Give up on restaurants, even with vouchers

Invite your friends around for lunch an dinner, even if you have to pay a maid to assist you. Use the accommodation you have rather than finance a snazzy new restaurant interior with indifferent food and poor service. If you do dine out, be very selective and only choose the best places so that you do enjoy it.

6. Have a serious think about personal transportation

Do you really need two or three vehicles, or that Ferrari? How much joy does an expensive model really bring if you spend most of your time stuck in traffic, or it sits all day gathering dust in a car park? Who does it actually impress apart from the valet, or car washing guy?

7. Try switching to a cheaper supermarket for your weekly shop

My suggestion is Carrefour, unless you have already noticed just how expensive some of its rivals have become and how poor their selection of fresh food. Since taking over the Geant stores, this French supermarket chain has introduced many exclusive lines. It's the place to go for live Norwegian crab, Canadian lobster and fresh oysters, though its own brands are the best-value products. Nobody is suggesting you should starve to save on food bills.

8. Join the online shopping revolution

When you want to buy a larger item just Google it before buying on impulse in a shop. The chances are you can find it cheaper online, and you won’t even need to go to a shop to buy it as delivery is free. Also check local websites against global competitors for the best deal. Delivery from the US is often almost as quick as the local alternative.

9. Book flight tickets out of Europe or India

Booking return flights with UAE airlines when you are overseas can result in substantial savings. You just need to organise your time and travel plans to make it happen. After you have relocated your starting point once, you don’t have to think about this again, and the savings happen every time you use this route.

Bonus tip: Buy air tickets to multiple destinations using the UAE as a stopover

This helps to reduce the cost of your annual holiday. For example, London-Dubai-Maldives. It’s a lot cheaper than buying separate tickets. Luxury holiday breaks on the cheap? Well, you are living in the UAE, so enjoy it.

Peter Cooper has been writing about finance in the Gulf for two decades

Updated: December 30, 2018 12:28 PM

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