Twenties can be an exciting decade of your life – the first years of independence filled with university life, a budding career, a bustling social life, money mistakes and possibly even marriage.

A lot happens in your 20’s – good, bad and ugly. Many of the decisions you take now could make a lasting statement on your bank account in the future.
While your own money mistakes help you grow savvier – What if you could learn from those made by others and protect your bank account from any major dents? We speak to a few UAE residents about the money mistakes they regret making  in their 20’s.

“I indulged in a lot of impulsive shopping”

Dubai resident Ahmed says that he lived off of his credit card during his 20’s. “Be it a smart TV or gaming gadgets – I shopped a lot and spread most of my payments over monthly installments on my credit card. I ended up raising a huge debt. My biggest splurge was buying the FJ Cruiser. I’m still paying for it.”

What’s better?

Create a budget and stick to it. Also, don’t rely heavily on your credit card and try to pay off the entire outstanding amount every month. If you choose to make only the minimum monthly payment you could end up paying off your credit card debt well into your thirties.

[Related: Overspending? Budget like a pro]

“I didn’t negotiate my first salary”

Sharjah resident Pooja says that agreeing to a low salary at the beginning of her career set a low benchmark for the future. “I didn’t attempt to negotiate during my first job and thus set my salary bar too low.”

What’s better?

Research the average salaries for your job profile before you go for an interview. If you’re the right fit for the position, don’t hesitate to negotiate.

“I didn’t plan for emergencies”

Dubai resident Sarah says that while she did budget during her 20’s, she didn’t account for an emergency. “I thought I had it all sorted, saving a small percentage of my salary every month. When the recession hit, I was a casualty. I ended up borrowing from everywhere just to stay afloat!”

What’s better?

Try to set aside at least six months worth of living expenses as a safety net for any contingencies.

[Related: Emergency fund – Are you prepared for the worst?]

“I didn’t invest or buy insurance”

Firoze, living in Bur Dubai regrets not having invested his money or getting insured. “Now that I’m older, insurance is more expensive. Also my risk appetite is lower so my investments have to be more prudent. I have lost out on precious time.”

What’s better?

Start early and make sure you compare investment products thoroughly. Think about long term goals before you shop. For example, if you’re going to get married soon and start a family you would need an education fund for your kids.

“I thought retirement was a long time away”

Adrian who resides in Arabian Ranches, didn’t start a retirement fund during the beginning of his career. “Starting a retirement fund now at 35 years, I think about all the time wasted. Had I thought about this back then, I would’ve been closer to my goal.”

What’s better?

Think about the lifestyle you want to live post retirement. Factor in inflation to calculate how much you would need to save. The earlier you create a retirement fund, the faster you’ll get there.


So go on, get your financial diary out to start planning now. Some of the money decisions you take will pay off, and some won’t. After all, your own mistakes will create the best lessons learnt. And you can afford it – you’re still in your twenties.