Everyone starts a New Year with a resolution to get a better handle on their finances. Unfortunately, the majority find that, one month in, saving money and increasing wealth is more difficult than it appears.
By the end of February, a large number of people give up on the idea altogether - simply resigning themselves to the fact that they're going to have to muddle on for a little longer with a less than satisfactory financial situation.
The thing is, it doesn't need to be this way. Saving money can be done, even in a city as expensive as Dubai, without changing your lifestyle too much. Of course, if you're really in bad financial shape, things get a little more difficult - and you should seek professional advice. But if you're simply looking to get a better handle on your finances and grow your wealth, you just need a little discipline.
We're now two months into the New Year, and many UAE residents may, by this point, be worrying that it's too difficult to keep on track with their savings goals. If that sounds like you, try these simple tips that'll save you money and help you to stick to your financial resolutions.
1. Try the 'no-spend month' challenge
The idea behind this challenge is about only paying for the essentials. Bills still have to be paid and there should still be food in your fridge. Technically, you'll be spending money during the no-spend month, but your money will only be going towards the things you need. That means no dining out, no clothes shopping and no trips out during the weekend. This savings tactic is intense but effective.
2. Use a spend-tracking app
There are a ton of smartphone apps available that offer handy tips and tricks to help you manage your money better. One of my favourites is Spending Tracker. Available on iOS and Android for free, the app lets you track your money weekly, monthly or yearly, depending on how much help you need with money managing. It produces reports with graphs and charts to help you visualise where your money goes. There is a 'budget mode' so you can set a fixed budget amount to help you meet your spending targets. Once you can see your main areas of spending then you can easily adapt your spending habits.
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3. Think about moving house
If you live in Dubai, you'll have noticed that rental rates have fallen pretty dramatically over the past 18 months. Unfortunately, according to a survey that we carried out last year, a lot of long-term residents in Dubai aren't actually seeing the benefits of this. Long-time landlords often carry on at the same price, and it isn't until you move to a new house with a new landlord that you can take advantage of lower rents. But given that rates are so low in some areas, there's a real case to be made for moving now. Do a quick search and you'll be amazed at what you can get for your money if you're willing to relocate to a new area.
4. Think about debt consolidation
Debt consolidation, or re-financing as most banks like to call it, is a loan you take out in order to pay off several other loans - even if they are from different banks. You can combine multiple debts into a single, larger debt usually with more favourable pay-off terms like a lower interest rate, or lower monthly installments. The theory behind consolidating all your debt is that one monthly payment for everything is easier to manage. Plenty of banks in the UAE offer debt consolidation loans, so if you find that you're struggling to pay off multiple debts, it may worth investigating this route.
5. Use a comparison site
There are comparison sites for everything these days. Whether you're looking at school fees, car insurance policies, or telecoms packages, you'll find a local site that'll allow you to compare products. Use these sites to your advantage when you're looking at making a big expenditure, or signing on to a new contract. By doing this, you'll get a better understanding of what's available in the market, and you'll be more likely to find the product that's right for you - and at the right price.
By Jon Richards
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