10 top money-saving tips in the Middle East

We ask Ben Crompton, a financial expert, for advice on managing our money wisely

10 top money-saving tips in the Middle East

What are the most important things to consider when looking to save, with a family?
For me, when you are looking to save, you have to consider the impact it will have on your lifestyle. Most people come to the UAE and are able to drastically improve their lifestyle, particularly in terms of eating out and other leisure activities. If you are looking to save as well you’ll need to judge just how much better you want life to be here than it was back home.

Should saving be easy?

If you have moved here for a better life and have taken a commensurately better position, then you should be able to save a significant amount just by living the life you had in your home country. If you start to save straight away then there will be little pain, but if you start to live the UAE lifestyle for a few years and then try and cut back, it will hurt.

How important is it to start saving sooner rather than later?
If you start as soon as you step off the plane it will save a lot of pain later on for sure, but it is never too late to start. Maybe a promotion or pay rise could act as the headroom you need to start putting money away.

Tell us a bit about yourself / background
I was a hedge fund and private equity lawyer in London and then in Abu Dhabi, before deciding to give it all up and start a property company with my brother. He runs the Dubai office and I run Abu Dhabi. I am a huge rugby fan and when I’m not in the office, I still play for the Veterans and run the touch rugby in Zayed Sports City.

Saving Tips

1. Buy a car – It may seem counter-intuitive to spend money to save money, but your finance repayments on your car will be less than the cost of renting it - and you will be paying it off as well.

2. Flash cars – Yes it seems like everyone has a Cayenne or a Jeep, but do you need one? Safety of your family is important of course, but there are plenty of more economical secondhand cars out there that protect the children just as well.

3. Buy a house – Again you might think it’s foolish to spend to save but the same as a car, your bank repayments on a house will be less than your rent and you’ll be paying off equity.

4. Don’t have a spare room – Get a house with the rooms you need.Accommodation is priced very tightly on size in the UAE so avoid that spare room “in case family visits”. Put them up in a hotel, it’ll be cheaper.

5. Don’t give all your children their own ensuite bedroom – We grew up sharing rooms with our brothers and sisters and it didn’t kill us. Don’t break the bank on a huge house so all your kids get their own ensuites. Accommodation is hugely expensive here. Give them an extra holiday instead.

6. Do you need that sea view? – How many times will you sit out on your balcony taking in the beautiful sunset? Not nearly as many as you think you will. Choose your accommodation based on the community facilities your family will use every day like beaches, pool and play areas. Save money on the view which can add 25 percent to your rent.

7. Put money aside on payday – If you’re looking to save don’t wait and see what you have left at the end of the month. Take money out on payday so you don’t have it to -play with.

8. Lunches and breakfasts – The thing I find that really adds up is not the dinners and brunches which you know are expensive, but the breakfasts and lunches particularly on weekends. These are hidden costs which really sneak up on you. Try to have breakfast at home and maybe do a picnic out with the family instead.

9. Flight time – Flights are very expensive so when booking make sure you check the price from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, one may be a lot cheaper and they’re only about an hour apart. Also, see what it will cost to have a short stopover, you may save a lot with Gulf carriers out of Bahrain or Qatar.

10. Understand your phone internet and TV bills – Another hidden cost is your phone, internet and TV. Most people spend thousands on these things and aren’t taking a proper look at what it’s costing them and what they can cut back on.

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