Friday, August 8, 2014

Abu Dhabi on a Budget!

I always thought that people came to the Gulf to earn their fortunes, and while that may have been true for many in the past, and for some still today, I have found that saving money is quite difficult as life is actually quite expensive here.

Now to put this post in context- we are a young family living off of one salary, it's most definitely not one of those 30k a month salaries that you may hear about that turn your eyes into giant saucers. Still, we are blessed to have what we have and we try to never forget it!

With all that being said, here are a few ways to stretch those precious Dirhams and stay out of debt.
  • Buy second hand. Some people may squirm at the thought of second hand anything, but I most certainly do not. I've always loved flea market and yard sales. Knowing that I could find some treasure if I just dug around a bit was a thrill and ooh that feeling I got knowing I paid peanuts for it-- priceless.
    • is a great place to find pre-owned cars, clothes, baby items, shoes, accessories, basically anyting you can think of...probably even the kitchen sink.
    •  Facebook groups for online flea markets have also been set up for certain communities like Al Raha, and Al Reef Abu Dhabi Marketplace and Abu Dhabi Closet are other facebook groups to look into. 
    • Actual flea markets (mostly in Dubai), Baby Bazaar are great options as well. People are always moving away and in need of getting rid of things quick! 
  • .Buy the Entertainer book at the beginning of each year! It costs around 300 aed (but hey, maybe you could get a cheaper one on one of the online flea market groups!) and they're filled with "buy one get one free" vouchers to ALL kinds of cafes and restaurants. Even the fancy ones! It's also got "buy one get one" vouchers for Yas waterworld, and Ferrari World. An accompanying book offers the same type deal for hotel stays. Definitely a great purchase to make. (spa one available too)
  • Free/cheap entertainment. We've attended some great concerts with international acts like Ceelo Green, Missy Elliot and Wyclef Jean for free! These concerts were part of "beats on the beach" held yearly at the Corniche. Entrance is free and it's on the beach...awesome! Other free/cheap things to do: parks, free beach access at the corniche, playing basketball at the courts in the parks, Global Village, Heritage Village, Emirates park zoo, exhibitions. 
  • Competitions. I can't even begin to tell you how awesome some of the prizes we've won are. Many competitions are free, but prizes can be worth thousands of dirhams. Go on and try your luck! Abu Dhabi Week magazine constantly has great prizes up for grabs on their competitions page.

  • Create a budget and stick to it. It can be easy to get swept up in upgrading everything, getting a fancier phone, tv, car, etc. Put away savings at the beginning of each month and live off the rest!

  • Loyalty cards. Sign up for one and earn points with each purchase you make. Points can later be redeemed for products. Or get cards that allow you to buy a certain number of coffees and get one for free.

  • Consider purchasing your electronics at GITEX or other similar exhibitions. You can get great deals when you bundle your items, and you even ask what they can offer you to sweeten the deal should you purchase from them. Many times they will throw in extra items like cameras, headphones, accessories etc.

  • Utilities. Sometimes the little things add up! Run the AC less, conserve some water, consider using a gas stove.

  • Shop where you can haggle! Malls offer the glitz and glam, but sometimes the best deals can be found at smaller shops around the city.
  • Staycation. Consider staying in the UAE for your next holiday and spend it at one of the many beautiful resorts here. We've stayed in a couple of resorts in Fujairah and loved it, Atlantis the Palm was great too!

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