If you never have any money left in your bank account at the end of the month, you may want to examine exactly how you spend your income. From unnecessary expenditure on fuel, credit cards and food, sometimes it is the little things in life that can add up and ensure you are left with empty pockets. Here are 10 savings tips that each have the potential to put Dh500 back into your hand.
1. Exchange your holiday money
When we return from a foreign trip, any leftover foreign currency often gets stuffed in a drawer or jar for safekeeping. Gather all those currencies together and head to your nearest exchange and you'll be amazed by how many dirhams you walk away with. A reputable exchange house may not accept every currency, but a couple of US dollars here and some Sri Lankan rupees and Omani riyals later and you could have a tidy sum to play with.
2. Stay safe on the road
Driving above the speed limit, no matter how good you think you are at slowing down for the cameras, will nearly always lead to a fine. And a handful of speeding fines will quickly lead to a very sizeable bill. Talking on your mobile phone and driving dangerously will also incur fines. Also, keep your car clean; if you are stopped by police with a dirty car, you could be fined up to Dh500.
3. Turn off the lights
Electricity and water bills are not renowned for being the cheapest in the UAE. By turning lights and the air conditioning off when you leave a room and ensuring all non-essential appliances are switched off when not in use, you will quickly reap the rewards. Other cost-cutting tips include energy-saving light bulbs, watering the garden for shorter periods of time and reducing the time you spend in the shower.
4. Change your credit card
If you're paying annual fees on your credit card, switch to a free option. There are plenty of cards out there that don't charge a dirham and still dish out handsome rewards, such as discounts at restaurants, access to airport lounges and free travel insurance. Similarly, if you have credit-card debts and can't clear the balance every month, you will be paying a hefty interest rate. Pay them off or take out a low-cost loan where the interest rate will be significantly less.
5. Switch your supermarket
It's no secret that the UAE's supermarkets vary in price, sometimes by a margin of Dh20 or more on the same item. By switching from your favourite, and probably more costly, supermarket you will quickly notice big savings.
6. Consider a pay-as-you go mobile
Unless you have to update your Twitter and Facebook status every few minutes, having a phone package nearly always costs more. A pay-as-you-go mobile that lets you tap into the Wi-Fi at home or at work is probably all you need considering most of us spend the majority of our time in those places.
7. Join a library
An avid book reader can plough their way through two books or more a week. Buy each of those books new or on a Kindle and your hobby will quickly add up. By joining a library - typical fees are Dh200 a year plus Dh50 for registration - you will save hundreds of dirhams and probably read more.
8. Sell, sell, sell
Look inside any cupboard or drawer in your home and there are probably plenty of unwanted clothes, shoes, furniture and electrical appliances. Whether you sell them online at dubizzle.com or at one of the UAE's flea markets that take place during the cooler months, it's an easy way to cash in.
9. Update your insurance
Whether it's travel, contents, car or life insurance, the first thing you should do as the renewal date looms is ask yourself if you have the best deal. Shop around before signing on the dotted line - there are always cheaper options out there.
10. Book flights early
Planning ahead ensures you get your pick of the deals as only a few seats on each flight are sold at bargain prices. Once they are sold, the prices rise. Similarly, those wanting to cash in air miles only have a few seats to choose from for each flight, so booking early ensures you get the free flight at minimum mileage rather than paying for more miles or even the full flight cost.