5 Tips to be Frugal in Dubai

Confession: I’m a cheapskate. Some use the term “frugal” to make it sound more positive and less embarrassing but I am ok with the word cheapskate. And I can be a real cheapskate if needed.

We are fairly frugal – we have shirts that have holes in them (newsflash: old clothes feel nice and cozy), most of our furniture are pre-loved and I only buy new clothes when they’re on sale.

Here are some tips I can share on how to live frugally in Dubai although it may seem to be a very expensive place to live. Actually, it is not if you learn how to separate the things you really need and just ‘want’.

1. Look for used first – Dubai/UAE is a transient place where people come and go. You’ll be surprised there are so many expats leaving after just less than a year of living here and they advertise white goods and furniture that’s still in perfect condition at a price much, much cheaper than when you buy new at the stores. You can check out the classified ads at the expatwoman.com website or in Gulf News and the most popular, Dubizzle.com.

2. Eat out less/eat out frugally – With so many restaurants and cuisines available in Dubai, it is very hard not to splurge on eating out. It is no doubt that it’s cheaper to buy your own groceries and cook your own food. If you have to eat out but have already committed to live frugally, at least do it less often and carefully choose restaurants that are not overrated in terms of price.

3. Check your bank accounts regularly – some banks charge a fee for “dormant” accounts – accounts that don’t have activity for a certain period of time. If you own multiple accounts, be sure to close accounts you are not using anymore or check maintaining balances to avoid unnecessary fees. Also, monitor your account regularly so you don’t accidentally spend more than you have.

4. Find free entertainment – Be alert on free entertainment offered especially during shopping festivals in Dubai which happens twice a year plus lots of other festivals in between. You will be amazed how many there is! Check Dubai Calendar. Go to the beach, stay home and watch DVD’s or read a book or play with your children, go to the park.

5. Plan ahead – One of the best quotes I’ve read and try to live by is: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Sure, ‘plan ahead’ is easy to say but hard to implement. But if you make it a habit to think ahead to things that are coming up in your life, you can save a lot of money. For example, if you think about where you’re going to get your meals when you go out to do errands, you can pack a lunch or dinner instead of eating out. Or you can even eat at home first so you don’t have to eat out.

These are just some few tips at the top of my head right now on how to maximize your tax-free status while living in the UAE. Please feel free to share your frugal tips in the comments!

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