Time flies when procrastinating about saving
Find ways to start saving in small ways. (Shutterstock)
When it comes to saving, so many of us are guilty of thinking "it's okay; I'll start tomorrow". But before you know it, another year has gone by and you still haven't put your saving plan into action. Having financial goals is very important, especially when living in a country where pensions and social benefits don't exist.
Dreaming about where you would like to be in five, 10 or even 30 years' time is one thing, but like with anything you want to achieve in life, you have to take positive steps to make saving happen. Create a spreadsheet or download an app to your smartphone if you think it will help, but make saving a habit, a routine, a part of your life. While it might feel like a chore now - and you may have to miss a brunch here or there, or not upgrade your Apple product as soon as the latest model is released - think about the long term and don't deviate from your goal.
If you haven't started saving yet don't beat yourself up about it or start to panic; you are far from alone. A survey carried out earlier this year by HSBC found that saving for retirement was not a priority for 87 per cent of people in the UAE. Meanwhile, another survey by National Bonds Corporation revealed 77 per cent of those people who are saving in the UAE don't think the amount of money they are setting aside will be enough to see them through retirement.
Be realistic in your saving plan. Don't try and fix your situation quickly, as you'll likely end up breaking and going on a spending spree. Instead, do it in small steps by aiming to save anything from 10-30 per cent of your monthly salary. One of the many wonderful things about living in the UAE is the tax-free salary; if you were working in your home country where money would be deducted from your salary, think of it in the same way. Set up a direct debit so a fixed amount leaves your main bank account and goes into a savings account every month.
While it hasn't always been an option, savers in the UAE can now earn higher returns for their money. In February, for example, Mashreq announced a new saving product that offers four per cent interest, which is currently the highest in the market. The majority of UAE banks, however, are now also offering attractive savings and fixed-deposit accounts and at compareit4me.com we've seen a noticeable increase in the amount of consumers searching for these products.
Interest/profit rates for savings accounts vary from 0.5 per cent up to four per cent, while a fixed-rate deposit account could see a saver gaining from 0.55-2.5 per cent on an investment, depending on the bank and the term period. As with any financial product, anyone looking to take a savings account should ensure they compare all of the options available and select the one which will allow them to reach their goal most efficiently.
Another big factor to take into consideration when comparing bank accounts is future location. If the consumer doesn't foresee a lengthy stay in the UAE, a portable bank account would be the best option.
Portable bank accounts are available in the UAE; both Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and HSBC are among those banks offering accounts which are still accessible if the consumer decides to relocate.
For this same reason, offshore banking is still increasingly popular in the region. Expats are continuing to choose to invest their money in accounts they can access when they return to their home country.
In fact, a recent survey carried out by compareit4me.com found that while 65.5 per cent of the respondents claimed to be saving between 10 and 50 per cent of their salary every month, the money is going to offshore accounts, as opposed to a UAE account - even more reason for UAE banks to continue in their push to offer competitive interest rates.
Saving takes some serious discipline, but just small amounts saved regularly will add up over time. And whether used to purchase your dream home, as a contribution to your pension, school fees or an unlikely rainy day in the UAE, savings make these things a bit easier.
By Jon Richards
The writer is the chief executive officer of compareit4me.com. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.
- Time flies when you're freezing? Jordan to switch to winter clocks as snow arrives
- Financial planning: Take time now, save money later
- 3-day door to door vaccination to save children from polio gets a flying start
- Flying doctors save the day in Gaza
- 8-year-old Yemeni child dies at hands of 40-year-old husband on wedding night