Cut costs in 2015 with our ultimate guide to saving money as a family...
1. “Keep your eyes on social media for special offers. Subscribe to email lists and Facebook groups that are relevant and you won’t miss out on a deal’ Kellie from Mama Knows Dubai.
2. Always ask if entertainment venues offer residency rates. For example, Ski Dubai and Aquaventure at Atlantis both offer generous discounts.
3. “Try not to get caught in the culture of buying expensive gifts for every birthday party. Handcrafted items are usually far more appreciated.” Aimee Collett from Paddington Nursery.
4. Forget expensive birthday parties. Host your own with a home-baked cake, traditional games, and homemade playdoh as favours.
5. Make the most of free days out. Arabia’s Wildlife Centre in Sharjah and Posh Paws in Dubai are free for kids, whilst Al Ain Zoo costs just Dhs5 for kids under 12.
6. Check for special offers at kids’ play areas. For example, Fun City outlets across UAE offer free play with spends of Dhs100, 150 and 200.
7. Most family brunches offer complimentary dining to kids under a certain age, so check details before you book.
8. Collect loyalty cards. Shop around for cards that offer the points system most relevant to you and your family.
9. If you have more than one child, always ask whether facilities offer a sibling discount.
10. Make the most of the great outdoors during cooler months. You can’t beat a day on the beach or at the park.
11. Arrange a weekly play date with friends, rotating around your houses and giving the kids dinner when it is your turn to host.
12. Take out membership at a public library to save buying expensive books, such as The Old Library in Dubai and The Corniche Library in Abu Dhabi.
13. Sometimes the journey can be the adventure – and kids will love a trip on the cheap-as-chips Dubai Water Taxi.
14. When it comes to family dining, explore the older parts of town for culture, exotic cuisine, and big savings.
15. Shop for clothing at budget stores like Carrefour, Centre Point, and Splash.
16. Shop during big sales, such as Dubai Shopping Festival between January 1 and February 1.
17. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with the spending of visitors. Suggest affordable activities or home-cooked meals when you want to join them.
18. Look carefully at nursery and school fees before you apply for your kids; you will find it hard to turn down the place once offered. For nurseries, the Time Out Kids Nursery guide is a great starting point.
19. Shopping can often be cheaper overseas, so register for a Shop & Ship account – but make sure you work out delivery costs before ordering.
20.“Check what offers your credit card offers – many in the UAE offer buy-one-get-one free deals for cinemas, restaurants, or gyms.” Jenny and Laura, founders of Mum’s The World.
21. Stop sending SMS messages and download a free instant messaging service.
22. There are generally better rates for landlines, so use your home phone to chat.
23. Don’t leave electronic devices on standby as it eats up electricity.
24. Never spend more than 25 percent of your income on rent. If it exceeds this, consider downsizing or moving to a more affordable area.
25. Work out how much your family spends on car maintenance, petrol and taxis – and consider using public transport instead.
26. “According to DEWA, turning that temperature dial up by even one degree with help you save on your cooling costs by 9 percent. Try setting your AC to the recommended 23’C.” Ambareen Musa, founder and CEO of souqalmal.com
27. Instead of keeping your air conditioning on at night during winter, swap to a thin duvet or sheet.
28. Invest in energy-efficient LED light bulbs
29. Never water your garden in the heat of the day, when most of the water will evaporate; stick to early morning or late evening to see your bills drop.
30. Use a sprinkler system for your garden and adjust it each season to keep water usage down.
31. Buy plants and garden supplies from local garden shops, rather than big superstores. They are supplied by the same people, but are much cheaper.
32. Teach your kids to be green, turning off lights and air conditioning when necessary.
33. If your children have got older and started school, ask yourself whether you still need full-time help at home. You can always use an agency when you need a babysitter.
34. On the flip-side, if you have young children and are relying more and more on agencies, hiring full-time help could be a wise investment.
35. Consider cancelling your TV subscription service and streaming shows over the internet instead.
36. It sounds obvious, but washing and ironing clothes in your own machine will save a fortune on dry cleaning bills.
Food and drink
37. Use what is in your fridge before you restock it. Input the ingredients you have into website www.supercook.com and it will suggest suitable meals.
38. Buy store brand items rather than fancy brands; they almost always taste just as good.
39. “Buy local, organic products where possible, especially vegetables and fruit. It is not only 30-40 percent cheaper than buying imported, but also fresher.” Renu Ojha, founder of Blue Planet Green People. (www.blueplanetgreenpeople.com)
40. Write a shopping list before you leave the house – and stick to it.
41. Never shop when you are hungry to avoid impulsive and unnecessary buys.
42. Take a packed breakfast and lunch to work with you every day.
43. Find out if your local supermarket has a discount market day - and if so, do the shopping on this day.
44. Download app Sallety at www.sallety.ae. Created by the Department of Economic Development, it compares the cost of products at supermarkets nationwide.
45. Take up cookery lessons and you will feel less inclined to order takeaways.
46. Go vegetarian once or twice a week to cut down on meat costs.
47. If your kids like to help themselves at the supermarket, go shopping alone.
48. Ingredients work out cheaper per meal when bought in bulk, so batch cook and freeze in portions.
49. Make coffee at home and carry it in a thermos to work.
50. If you can’t resist the odd barista-made coffee, purchase with brands that offer a loyalty card, such as Costa Coffee.
51. Create a family budget to identify exactly what you’re spending and what you’re spending it on. It will also allow you to make cuts if need be.
52. “If you have a personal loan, initiate a conversation with your lender to see if the monthly or annual fee can be waived or reduced. Banks are often open to the idea of renegotiating lending fees, so it won’t do you any harm to ask the question.” James Thomas, Independent Financial Advice. (www.acuma.ae)
53. To avoid racking up charges, always clear the debt on credit cards at the end of each month and never use them to draw out cash from an ATM.
54. Make sure you have adequate insurance. Hefty medical bills could get your family into serious financial trouble if you fell ill.
55. Save your small change in a large jar and you will quickly build a sizable amount.
56. Monthly standing orders can cost money, so search for alternative payment methods.
57. If you are heading to the mall to browse, take cash rather than cards – if you have a physical spending limit, you are more likely to stick to it.
58. Try doing the weekly shop online with companies like LeBazar.ae, which allows you to plan meals and avoid impulse buys.
59. The cost of veterinary care for animals can be very high, so make sure pets are insured.
60. Browse for lower interest rates on credit cards at www.moneyshop.ae
61. Have a clear out of unwanted household goods and sell on Dubizzle or through neighborhood Facebook groups.
62. Take out a table at Dubai Flea Market and sell everything in one go.
63. If you have items relating to babies and children, take out a table at the monthly Baby Bazaar event.
64. Limit trips overseas to once per year to avoid the cost of flights. If you need another break, book a staycation.
65. Sign up to newsletters from airlines that fly in and out of the region, so you are the first to know about flight sales.
66. Register for an Airmiles card, which earns you miles whenever you shop at specified retailers in the UAE.
67. Consider swapping to a credit card that collects you air miles as you spend, such as ADCB Etihad Guest.
68. Use www.skyscanner.net to compare flight prices and find the cheapest deal.
69. The cheapest time to book flights is generally considered to be eight weeks before departure.
70. In terms of days to travel, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally the cheapest.
71. “Public transport systems in the UAE are clean, reliable and cheap. You will soon see the dirhams stack up if you replace your taxi journeys with a trip on the metro, buses or tram,” Jessica Cook, Financial Advisor. (www.financial-advice-dubai.com)
72. Don’t discount walking to your destination during cooler months.
73. Enquire about special offers or happy hours before choosing your venue.
74. Buy The Entertainer to snap up 2-for-1 deals all over the country. For best value, buy the book in January.
75. Keep your eyes peeled for Time Out Dubai and Time Out Kid’s Voucher Issues, which are full of brilliant offers.
76. Register for a Time Out City Card for discounts across the UAE. Sign up at timeoutdubai/citycard.
77. “If you are organising a dinner or brunch for a large group, ask the restaurant manager if you can get a discount. This works best at newer venues that are keen for customers.” Karen Bobker at Holborn Assets. (www.holbornassets.com)
78. Arrange nights out with girlfriends on Ladies Nights to drink for free.
Health & Fitness
79. “Always look for deals when it comes to fitness classes. Buying packages of classes almost always includes a saving”, Catherine Williams, co-founder of Pure Fitness. (www.purefitnessuae.com)
80. Forget gym membership and join a running club. Dubai Road Runners and Abu Dhabi Striders both offer free sessions.
81. If running solo is your thing, make use of the numerous running tracks in parks and beaches in the UAE.
82. Swimming is one of the best cardio fitness exercises out there – and it costs nothing if you have access to a pool.
83. If you don’t have childcare, don’t discount working out at home in the evenings. The 30-Day Shred is available freely on YouTube and promises rapid results.