Illustration by Gary Clement for The National
Illustration by Gary Clement for The National

It’s time to rethink the big, bad budget word



Budget. What is it about that word that can send so many of us into downward spirals of denial, fear, resistance, and downright stupidity.
The B word explodes with emotion. The consequences can disable for life.
Here's what it means to so many: cheap; less expensive; not good quality; can't afford better.
Here's what it should mean: a way to know what we're doing with our money. A plan to help us live within our means. A guide to achieving goals.
From what I have read in many places, but haven't been able to verify the original source, the word budget was first used as an adjective to mean "inexpensive; suitable for someone of limited means" in 1958. And boy have we clung onto it.
The numerous adverts and branding linking "less money" with the word "budget" do little to help dispel the very emotional myth that to budget for something means that you cannot possibly afford to do that thing, or that you cannot buy that product. If you could, you wouldn't be budgeting for it.
People: to budget and to be well-off is not a contradiction in terms.
The problem is that there are massive emotional blocks associated with the B word. It's time for us to sort this out.
Here's an example of the mess we can get in. An immensely intelligent person believes he really did "budget" for a recent major purchase. He has no cash cushion, is permanently caught short and is not in a good place with his financial life.
He insists that he knows how to budget and has been doing so "forever" – both in a personal capacity and in the way of running a business.
From what I can glean, he means that he is great at adding up sums and making future projections. For him it's about income and expenses matching up. Monies not yet collected are included in spreadsheets as a given, and he is always paying for this month from next month's earnings.
He "knows" how to "budget".
He doesn't want to sit, look at what he spends where, and cut his cloth accordingly.
I wonder how it all started, what is triggered inside him when he is asked about money, being accountable and planning?
This is an example of someone being cerebrally intelligent, but emotionally not – not when it comes to money. "I can't afford", "I'm short", "just this month", are stock phrases that seem to somehow be part of who he is. For now.
An alternative extreme is someone who once budgeted to spend only Dh5 a day – for months on end – to save enough cash to buy his first professional camera. And he hasn't looked back.
He owns a thriving media business in the UAE. The Dh5 was after rent, utilities, and transport. This person went to one of the more expensive boarding schools in the UK and is due a windfall of an inheritance some day and so has access to money should he need it. But it was important for him that he get a lump sum together as soon as possible and start his own business, without handouts or getting into financial strife.
He comes from money. I don't know if the previous person I mention also had a comfortable life. But it's not about that. It's about what money comes to signify for us.
When we talk budget, the focus is on handling money and priorities. But that's not the real issue. It's actually about our emotional relationship with ourselves, which includes baggage we have taken on from others – such as family. It's very personal and can be very painful. And so when we talk budget, it boils down to what money means to us, along with a myriad of unacknowledged feelings, fears and phobias associated with it.
A bit of history now: it turns out that the origin of 'budget' is a Latin word for little pouch. It evolved from referring to the thing carrying objects, the bag, to the content of that bag, be it papers or arrows, for example. Its first connection with finances was in 1733 in "The Budget Opened" – a letter attacking Sir Robert Walpole – regarded as the first prime minister of Great Britain – over a taxation scheme he had proposed.
From what I read, "budget" started being used as a verb meaning planning expenditure in the 1880s. Then, as I mentioned at the start, became an adjective associated with 'inexpensive' in 1958.
I'm proposing we re-programme our brain to think positively about loaded money-words that can fill with dread.
So think this: budget equals: balance, benefit and bliss.
What does the word mean to you? And I don't mean just the money soup side of things – dig deeper and share. My email address is below.
Nima Abu Wardeh is the founder of the personal finance website cashy.me. You can reach her at nima@cashy.me
Follow us on Twitter @TheNationalPF

Recipe

Garlicky shrimp in olive oil
Gambas Al Ajillo

Preparation time: 5 to 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

180ml extra virgin olive oil; 4 to 5 large cloves of garlic, minced or pureed (or 3 to 4 garlic scapes, roughly chopped); 1 or 2 small hot red chillies, dried (or ¼ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes); 400g raw prawns, deveined, heads removed and tails left intact; a generous splash of sweet chilli vinegar; sea salt flakes for seasoning; a small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Method

Heat the oil in a terracotta dish or frying pan. Once the oil is sizzling hot, add the garlic and chilli, stirring continuously for about 10 seconds until golden and aromatic.

Add a splash of sweet chilli vinegar and as it vigorously simmers, releasing perfumed aromas, add the prawns and cook, stirring a few times.

Once the prawns turn pink, after 1 or 2 minutes of cooking, remove from the heat and season with sea salt flakes.

Once the prawns are cool enough to eat, scatter with parsley and serve with small forks or toothpicks as the perfect sharing starter. Finish off with crusty bread to soak up all that flavour-infused olive oil.

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

Cinco in numbers

Dh3.7 million

The estimated cost of Victoria Swarovski’s gem-encrusted Michael Cinco wedding gown

46

The number, in kilograms, that Swarovski’s wedding gown weighed.

1,000

The hours it took to create Cinco’s vermillion petal gown, as seen in his atelier [note, is the one he’s playing with in the corner of a room]

50

How many looks Cinco has created in a new collection to celebrate Ballet Philippines’ 50th birthday

3,000

The hours needed to create the butterfly gown worn by Aishwarya Rai to the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

1.1 million

The number of followers that Michael Cinco’s Instagram account has garnered.

Specs

Power train: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and synchronous electric motor
Max power: 800hp
Max torque: 950Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Battery: 25.7kWh lithium-ion
0-100km/h: 3.4sec
0-200km/h: 11.4sec
Top speed: 312km/h
Max electric-only range: 60km (claimed)
On sale: Q3
Price: From Dh1.2m (estimate)

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

The Last White Man

Author: Mohsin Hamid 

192 pages 

Published by: Hamish Hamilton (UK), Riverhead Books (US)

Release date: out now in the US, August 11 (UK)

The biog

Name: Sari Al Zubaidi

Occupation: co-founder of Cafe di Rosati

Age: 42

Marital status: single

Favourite drink: drip coffee V60

Favourite destination: Bali, Indonesia 

Favourite book: 100 Years of Solitude 

In-demand jobs and monthly salaries
  • Technology expert in robotics and automation: Dh20,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Energy engineer: Dh25,000 to Dh30,000 
  • Production engineer: Dh30,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Data-driven supply chain management professional: Dh30,000 to Dh50,000 
  • HR leader: Dh40,000 to Dh60,000 
  • Engineering leader: Dh30,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Project manager: Dh55,000 to Dh65,000 
  • Senior reservoir engineer: Dh40,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Senior drilling engineer: Dh38,000 to Dh46,000 
  • Senior process engineer: Dh28,000 to Dh38,000 
  • Senior maintenance engineer: Dh22,000 to Dh34,000 
  • Field engineer: Dh6,500 to Dh7,500
  • Field supervisor: Dh9,000 to Dh12,000
  • Field operator: Dh5,000 to Dh7,000
Scream VI

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett

Stars: Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Jack Champion, Dermot Mulroney, Jenna Ortega, Hayden Panettiere and Courteney Cox

Rating: 3/5

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

UAE SQUAD

 

Goalkeepers: Ali Khaseif, Fahad Al Dhanhani, Mohammed Al Shamsi, Adel Al Hosani

Defenders: Bandar Al Ahbabi, Shaheen Abdulrahman, Walid Abbas, Mahmoud Khamis, Mohammed Barghash, Khalifa Al Hammadi, Hassan Al Mahrami, Yousef Jaber, Mohammed Al Attas

Midfielders: Ali Salmeen, Abdullah Ramadan, Abdullah Al Naqbi, Majed Hassan, Abdullah Hamad, Khalfan Mubarak, Khalil Al Hammadi, Tahnoun Al Zaabi, Harib Abdallah, Mohammed Jumah

Forwards: Fabio De Lima, Caio Canedo, Ali Saleh, Ali Mabkhout, Sebastian Tagliabue

Jawan

Director: Atlee

Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Nayanthara, Vijay Sethupathi

Rating: 4/5

Oscars in the UAE

The 90th Academy Awards will be aired in the UAE from 3.30am on Monday, March 5 on OSN, with the ceremony starting at 5am

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid

When: April 25, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Allianz Arena, Munich
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 1, Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre supercharged V6

Power: 416hp at 7,000rpm

Torque: 410Nm at 3,500rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Fuel consumption: 10.2 l/100km

Price: Dh375,000 

On sale: now 

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

Book Details

Three Centuries of Travel Writing by Muslim Women
Editors: Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Daniel Majchrowicz, Sunil Sharma
Publisher: Indiana University Press; 532 pages

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets