So, 2015 is almost here. While you decide on budgets for the celebrations, you can also make financial resolutions for the New Year – and stick to them.
1. Save more in 2015
We’ve seen a 30 percent rise in searches on Souqalmal.com for savings accounts. Why not join in to the trend? Top of your resolutions checklist should be to start saving – or saving more – in the New Year. There are many ways you can save your hard-earned money. You can start with simpler solutions like savings accounts and fixed-deposits and then experiment with keeping separate pots of money for a variety of investments at different liquidity (and therefore risk) levels. Read up on government, corporate bonds and stocks to get returns of up to 10 percent a year. Be sure to compare every product at every stage.
2. Bring down expenses
You’ve decided to save more. How do you do that? It’s time to re-examine the expenses you made in 2014. For starters, get an estimate on what your monthly repayments look like for any loans taken. Can you pay some of your loan(s) off and bring down the installments?
Next, have a look at your monthly spending. A 2013 survey by Standard Life revealed that 97 percent of Western expatriates in the UAE admitted to splashing out on high-end goods. Are there any luxury items you are splurging on? Cut these back and calculate the savings you could make. Even your weekly spending at the supermarket should be analyzed. Did you know, if you switched to the supermarket’s own brands you could save some money? Often supermarkets price their own products more cheaply.
3. What’s your cost of living?
We’ve already covered the supermarket and groceries. Why not also take a look at other essentials – such as air conditioning or electricity bills, medical bills and school fee payments – and work out your total cost of living? Add your debt repayments to this cost of essentials – this gives you an idea of the fixed outgoing per month. Subtract this figure from your monthly salary and other incomes. Now you can aim to save a set amount from the balance figure every month, say 60 percent. You can transfer this money to another account – one to which you do not have easy access to, so you won’t be able to give in to the temptation of dipping back in.
4. Make wiser choices
You’ve set the amount you want to save every month. Now what do you do with the money left? Spend it wisely.
A 2012 study found that, on an average, UAE residents ate out 11 times a week. Are you one of them? Cut out the take-out coffees and reduce the number of times you dine out a week. You could save hundreds of dirhams to put towards investments or repayments of debts instead. That way, you can strive to pay more than the minimum amount due per month on your debt and clear it off quickly.
[Related: Five ways to save AED 1,000 a month]
5. Put your financial plan into action
It’s a bit like going to the gym, isn’t it? When you start seeing the results, it spurs you on to raise the bar. Do ensure that, in your enthusiasm, you don’t end up creating unrealistic targets – which can be demotivating if not achieved. Try the exercise of leaving your credit and debit cards for a week. Why? Because it is easier to rein in temptation when you have to part with cold, hard cash. You can also use your phone to keep track of your expenses with apps like Wally.
[Related: Credit card cash withdrawal fees add up fast]
6. Reward yourself
Choose one big purchase or luxury item you want to indulge yourself with. But, instead of putting it on your credit card, work towards it. Add the purchase to your financial game plan and save a little bit every month for it. At the end of the year, you can reward yourself for being financially responsible all year round.
7. Invest your money
Made some savings? Don’t leave your money sitting idly, earning you nothing. Research and compare options that match your risk profile. Is the solution a fixed deposit or a national bond – or do you think you have the appetite for property investments and trading in stocks? Remember, the higher the returns, the higher the risk.
8. Score with discounts and deals
Hunt for deals for your daily shopping, entertainment and leisure spending. Other than websites like Cobone or Groupon you can get plenty of offers from your credit cards and mobile service providers.
If your loans and credit card bills are scattered across many banks, you could consider putting them all under one roof. This can help lower the rate you pay. But be sure to check any processing fees, early settlement fees or what other caveats are involved in transferring debts from one bank to another. If you do decide to consolidate, set aside one credit card that you can use and pay off fully by the end of the month.
10. Save as a family
Encourage your family members to participate in your financial plans for 2015. Get the kids involved as well and reward them for saving more. This way they will learn to be financially responsible too.