Tax-free incomes are definitely a massive plus for everyone living in Dubai but between sales and high rental costs, you might see your bank account looking a little depleted come the end of the month. Seven in ten UAE residents are unsure of the steps needed to achieve their financial goals, according to a recent poll by National Bonds. Don’t let yourself be part of that statistic by following these budgeting tips and tricks.
Also read: How to budget as a teen in the UAE
Step #1: Track your expenses
Tracking your income allows you to observe exactly how your money moves. This lets you understand what expenses are unnecessary and what expenses aren’t, allowing you to improve your relationship with money.
“The creation of a budget is nothing more than having an account of your income and what you are going to spend and plan for it,” says Rohit Garg, Head of Business Banking, Mortgages, Liabilities and Remittances at Mashreq.
“All you need to know is, how much is my inflow and my essential outflows, and if I were to spend more or spend less, what is it going to result in in terms of saving or debt? How you balance all that is what a budget is,” he said to Gulf News.
Step #2: Create a budget
Now that you have a general idea of your income inflows and outflows, you can create a budget. The most important part of budgeting is being realistic—an unreasonable budget, whether it’s overly lax or restrictive, is something you’re not likely to stick to. Particularly if you’re in a lower income bracket, you’re probably going to spend most of your money on essential utilities and services, so don’t set a budget that doesn’t work for you.
Step #3: Save up
The most fundamental aspect of budgeting is to create a rainy day fund. Whether you’re saving up for short-term expenses (a car, education) or long-term expenses (retirement), “Save first and then spend whatever you have left,” says Hamzah Shalchi, Regional Manager of Guardian Wealth Management. Having funds set aside for emergencies prevents additional expenses and future debt, so make sure you’re saving up!
“Spend on your bills. Spend on your mortgage, and your car and whatever else you have. From your surplus income, make sure you make the saving you have committed to and then spend on whatever you have left at the end of it. Save first and spend later,” Shalchi says to Gulf News. You can ask your bank to take out a certain percentage (say, 10%) of your income to put towards savings.
Step #4: Know what’s reasonable, and what isn’t
DEWA estimates that around 40% of your income should be going towards rent and utilities. If you’re paying any more than this, you might want to reconsider your living situation. Additionally, according to Gulf News, you shouldn’t be spending more than 10% of your income on transport arrangements. Public transport is a cost-effective way to get around, and doesn’t come with gas costs or maintenance fees so consider making the switch if you’re really looking to save money.