From the recently introduced municipality fee in Abu Dhabi to rising petrol prices and the upcoming value added tax, the cost of living is on the rise in the UAE.
So finding new ways to trim your spending is becoming ever more important. Michael Routledge, founder of savememoney.ae, which offers advice on paying off debt as well as money saving tips, says he notices a big difference in costs between here and his native UK. “At supermarkets here, you pay £6 (Dh27) or £7 for something that costs £1 at home.”
He has found a number of ways to save, which he shares on his website. Other UAE sites offering tips to help residents become more frugal include Britishmums.com and wiseuae.com, a non-profit community helping residents invest their wealth.
Here are the experts’ favourite saving hacks:
Mr Routledge says buying clothes from his favourite UK brands online is a big saver. “We really like the baby clothes from Next, but the shop here and the one in the UK have two totally different prices,” he says. “Then we looked online and there was an .ae site, where the prices are in dirhams but they are the UK prices. If you spend more than Dh120 it is free delivery as well.”
Selfridges, a high-end department store in the UK, offers unlimited deliveries to the UAE for just £30 a year, says Jemma Schilbach, founder of British Mums. John Lewis has a flat £10 delivery fee, while other brands like Boden and The White Company also deliver here, she says.
It can be expensive flying out of the UAE, but there are ways to save on tickets.
“Simple tricks to apply include clearing your cookies from your browser,” says Ms Schilbach.
“If you repeatedly look at the same flight the website knows that, and if you return to that same flight without clearing your cookies you will find the price slowly increases. Clear your cookies and you will find that the price goes back down.”
People should also book regional flights separately and consider travelling to their destination via Qatar as it is often more cost-effective, she says, adding that another hack is starting your journey in your home country as it can work out cheaper. And if you get organised and use the UAE as a stopover, you can include an annual holiday into the booking. “It’s almost like getting a holiday flight for free,” adds Ms Schilbach.
Tenancy contract renewals
Estate agents often charge high fees to process tenancy renewals, but doing it yourself is a big saver, says Mr Routledge.
“The real estate company which manages our apartment wanted Dh1,500 for our renewal, including processing the Ejari. I said ‘I am not paying you for a renewal’, so just bring me the contract and I will sign it. When I went to do Ejari myself, it cost Dh215. From Dh1,500, it ended up at Dh215.”
Make your money go further
Review your expenses by tracking your day-to-day spending to find areas where you can save, says Steve Cronin, founder of Wise.
“Come up with five to 10 categories of expenses and track them every day. Some people like to count every last dirham – if that’s not your style make a note of everything over Dh100 or Dh500,” he says. “Tracker apps like Mint or PocketGuard make it very easy to track and budget.”
He says we should all pay particular attention to big- ticket items like cars, furniture and rent as savings on these have a bigger effect.
“Expats are always arriving and leaving the UAE, so there is a high-quality second-hand market for cars, furniture, home cinemas.
“Cars typically lose around 11 per cent in value the moment you drive them home and a total of 27 per cent over the first year. Buying a car that is one to two years old will get you a great car at a huge discount,” he adds.
Always look for a discount
“Whether you’re out for a meal, going to your favourite shop or doing an activity, there are many ways to save,” says Ms Schilbach, who plans to launch a savings app in May. “Also check for deals on the social media pages of the companies you’re looking to spend with first.”
Two-for-one deals are accessible through The Entertainer series or voucher websites such as Groupon.ae, says Mr Routledge.
And don’t forget the value of haggling as everything has a better price, Ms Schilbach adds. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
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