Breaking the taboo of personal debt will take time, but awareness is key to curbing reckless spending
Cut your coat according to your cloth
Many expatriates who came to the region prior to the 2008 worldwide financial crisis were able to benefit from the exceptional economic growth of the UAE and lead a lavish lifestyle, one they would not or could not have sustained back home. Times have changed, however, and years of stagnant economies and flat wage growth have changed the global outlook. Some who now come to the UAE dreaming of a better future may come unstuck along the way.
The bewildering variety of financial services and facilities on offer in the UAE and the ease of getting a loan or credit card approval are often blamed for the high levels of personal indebtedness. Though stronger policies and greater clarity about loans and credit cards are now beginning to keep borrowing in check, a broad lack of awareness when it comes to over-borrowing and over-spending is clearly the big part of the problem.
Responsibility does not fall on one party without the other and education through constructive awareness campaigns, similar to the Debt Panel launched by The National, is core to putting an end to the stigma of personal indebtedness. Another example is that of broadcaster KV Shamsuddin, as The National reported yesterday, who has been advising radio listeners throughout the GCC about the importance of systematic savings.
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Living the good life comes at a hefty price, and spending all you have and a lot of what you don’t have will rupture the dreams you once had. But there is always a way out, and few situations are hopeless.
The best advice financial advice - and practice - when it comes to personal finance and debt management can, perhaps, be sourced from the famous Middle Eastern proverb: “Aala qadr bisatak mid rijlaik”. In other words, cut your coat according to your cloth. All of us are familiar with these words, although some of us often don't properly heed their meaning.
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