How to Save Money For Your Dream Car in the UAE: 8 Tips to Start Saving Now

Find out how to save up money for a car in the UAE through 8 steps, including using a mobile application to speed up and automate the process.

Owning a car in the UAE is one of the greatest practical freedoms a resident can have. No more waiting in line for buses under the hot sun, especially for long commutes between Dubai and Sharjah. No more squeezing onto a crowded Dubai Metro during rush hour. Forget about sharing taxis to save a few dirhams. 

With your own car, you can enjoy the convenience and flexibility of coming and going as you please. While most UAE residents understand the advantages of car ownership, the key question remains: How to save up money for a car in the UAE?

Saving up for a car in the UAE can be a challenge, especially since new cars in the UAE tend to be expensive compared to other regions. On top of the car payment, there are registration fees and mandatory car insurance. 

Additionally, the UAE has a high cost of living, making it difficult to save money, and life here is full of temptation to spend savings elsewhere.

But fear not! With a smart strategy and a touch of self-control, you can turn that dream into a reality. In this article, we'll share eight proven tips on how to save up money for a car. You’ll be driving off into the sunset sooner than you think.

[Start managing money more efficiently and visually track your growth through Maly, the money management app made for the UAE market.]

1. Buying a car in the UAE

There are specific requirements that need to be fulfilled to purchase a car in the United Arab Emirates, mainly:

  • Be at least 18 years old, the legal driving age in the UAE. 
  • Present a valid UAE license or get one by passing the driving test.
  • Provide a copy of your UAE residency visa, passport, and Emirates ID card. 
  • Ensure the emirate on the documents matches the location of the license, registration, and plates.
  • Used cars over three years must pass a roadworthiness inspection at an authorized center before registration.
  • Have valid auto insurance, as driving uninsured in the UAE is illegal.
  • Pay the applicable registration fees, which vary per emirate (e.g., AED 420 in Dubai, AED 400 in Abu Dhabi).
  • Clear any outstanding traffic fines or parking tickets before registering the vehicle.

Complete in-person registration at centers or online via websites like the Ministry of Interior or the emirate's traffic services portals.

Fulfilling these requirements and following procedures allows prospective car owners to purchase and register a car in the UAE legally.

2. How to save money fast for a car

Expenses related to residing in the UAE, particularly in cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, can add up quickly. Monthly expenses like housing, groceries, commuting, and leisurely pursuits require careful financial management. And they require traveling.

In a region like the GCC, having private transportation is much more than a luxury; it’s essential for many residents. With sweltering heat and sometimes long journeys between emirates, a personal vehicle proves extremely convenient and practical.

We've all been there, staring longingly at car listings outside your price range while your savings seem to go nowhere. However, hundreds of others just like you have boosted their balance from nearly zero to purchase-ready in six months or less using these techniques. 

Whether you’re aiming for a car down payment or the whole purchase price upfront, saving requires commitment and sacrifice in the short term––but the freedom and pride of car ownership make it well worth it.

So, if you're tired of relying on public transportation or need an upgrade from your current car, follow our step-by-step personal finance guide below on how to save up money for a car.

1. Set a clear savings goal 

The first step is determining exactly how much money you will need to buy the next car you want—research average purchase prices for different models that suit your needs and budget. Remember to factor in additional costs like registration fees and car insurance. Once you have the total target amount, break it into smaller, monthly milestones to make the goal less daunting and more achievable.

For example, if your cost of the car is AED 50,000, you may set monthly targets of AED 5,000, reaching the total amount in 10 months. Visualizing yourself driving the car you want can help boost motivation when savings are tough. Keeping the end goal in mind will make it easier to resist spending temptations.

2. Create a budget

Take time to analyze your financial situation carefully. Review monthly payments, bank statements, and credit card bills over the past 3-6 months to identify exactly where your money is going. Saqib Ali Shah, an experienced investment and business consultant in Dubai, recommends, “Pan out a proper list of incomes and expenditures so that you can quickly figure out your surplus money every month. That surplus is going to be your investment or savings in the future.” So, note down monthly expenses under fixed categories like rent, bills, and variable spending on groceries, leisure activities, clothes, and more.

how to save up money for a car

Once you have a clear picture of income versus expenses, identify areas where you have flexibility to reduce spending. Mainly focus on cutting down on non-essential costs. Allocate a fixed amount from every paycheck specifically for your car fund that you won't use for anything else. Sticking to a budget makes saving systematically easier. 

3. Explore financing options

While saving up the total amount yourself is ideal, it may take longer than you'd like, depending on current earnings. Save enough money for the down payment, then look into car loan options from banks and individual car dealerships in the UAE. Several prominent dealerships in the UAE provide such services, including:

  • Al-Futtaim Motors is one of the largest automotive distributors in the UAE. It represents brands like Toyota, Lexus, Honda, and Jeep, among others. It has tie-ups with Emirates Investment Bank to assist customers with car loans.
  • Al Tayer Motors: This dealership, which sells Ford, Land Rover, Jaguar, and other luxury brands, can help facilitate car loans through their banking partnerships.
  • Al Nabooda Automobiles: This dealership group represents Audi, Volkswagen, and Porsche and can assist buyers in arranging car loans from their partner banks.

Whatever you choose, remember to compare loan payments, interest rates, loan terms, and conditions to select the most reasonable offer that suits your monthly budget. Knowledge about available financing also gives the flexibility to speed up savings if needed down the line. Additionally, keep in mind that getting an auto loan requires having a good credit score. Otherwise, it might be challenging to get financed by lenders.

4. Increase income

For maximum savings power, consider ways to boost earnings on top of existing income sources in the UAE. Look for options like taking on a part-time job that fits your schedule, whether evenings or weekends. Freelance gigs like teaching private classes, copywriting, or data entry can also generate extra cash.

Bahroz Abbas Hussain, a CFO in the United States, recommends, “Don't start a side hustle just to make money. While earning income is important, you'll be much more successful if your hustle overlaps with an activity you already love. Think about your unique skills, interests, and dreams. How could you turn those into a money-making endeavor? Building a business around your innate passions makes the work feel less like work.”

how to save up money for a car

For employees, request more overtime hours if feasible, or consider project-based bonuses and commissions if available in your profession. Monetizing skills like photography, graphic design, coding, or hobbies like crafts are other avenues for extra money. Every extra dirham earned means progress towards the purchase price of the car.

5. Cut unnecessary expenses

Reducing spending is as important as boosting income. Understand the difference between wants and needs, i.e., you might not necessarily need the thing you intend to splurge on. Go through monthly subscriptions to streaming services, gym memberships, and newspapers/magazines, and cancel if not used regularly.

Follow the 50/30/20 rule for general money management. While saving, avoid non-essential purchases and splurges, which will only delay your planned car-buying timeline. Focus on spending only on housing, transport, food, and healthcare costs. Other wants can wait. Shopping with cash or a multi-card checking account rather than credit cards makes it harder to overspend.

6. Automate savings

One of the most effective ways to consistently save without fail is setting up automatic funds transfer from your salary account to a separate savings account on payday. This mimics the effect of giving yourself a “pay cut” for savings. MALY offers a convenient and automated way to cultivate a consistent saving habit.

With MALY, you can effortlessly put your savings plan on autopilot by seamlessly linking it to your bank account. Simply set your desired round-up limit – whether it's the nearest 1, 5, or 10 dirhams – and watch as those small, often overlooked amounts accumulate over time. Treat your car savings like an obligatory monthly bill that must be paid ahead of discretionary costs. Out of sight and out of reach in a separate account, the money will grow steadily over time.

Don't let spare change slip through the cracks any longer. Download MALY and embrace a more innovative, effortless way to save for your dreams and financial goals.

7. Consider used cars

If you consider all of the above tips and still can’t figure out how to save up money for a car in the UAE, consider going for a used car. The UAE has an extensive used car market, providing car buyers with affordable vehicle options. Purchasing a pre-owned car can be a practical choice both financially and logistically in the UAE. However, this does have both its pros and cons, including:

Pros

  • Cost Savings: Undoubtedly, one of the most significant advantages of opting for a used car is the substantial cost savings compared to purchasing a brand-new vehicle.
  • Variety of Options: The used car market in the UAE offers various choices, catering to different budgets and preferences. From affordable family sedans to luxury sports cars, you'll have a wide selection, no matter the type of car you have in mind, increasing your chances of finding the perfect fit.
  • Slower Depreciation: While new cars come at a premium and tend to depreciate rapidly in the first few years, used cars experience a slower depreciation rate, allowing you to potentially recoup a higher percentage of the car’s value when it's time to sell or trade in for a new car.

Cons

  • Hidden Issues: One of the main concerns with purchasing a used car is the potential for undisclosed issues or underlying problems. Despite thorough inspections, some defects or wear and tear may not be immediately apparent, leading to unexpected repair costs down the line.
  • Limited Warranty Coverage: Unlike new cars that come with comprehensive manufacturer warranties, used vehicles often have limited or no warranty coverage, leaving you responsible for any repair or maintenance costs that may arise.
  • Uncertain Vehicle History: When buying from a private seller or a less reputable dealership, it can be challenging to obtain a full and accurate vehicle history, including accidents, major repairs, or proper maintenance records.

Ultimately, buying a new or old car comes down to personal preferences, budget, and risk tolerance.

8. Stay disciplined yet flexible

While the above tips on how to save up money for a car help save systematically, nothing works better than self-discipline when it comes to staying on track with financial plans. Consistently stick to the budget and savings plan through ups and downs.

However, be prepared to remain flexible and adjust strategies when unexpected major expenses arise. Don't lose hope and criticize yourself too much for minor slip-ups, but get back on the saving wagon immediately. 

Celebrate mini-milestones along the way through inexpensive treats to stay motivated. With perseverance, reaching your car purchase goals will become a reality much faster than expected.

Combining several of the above tips on how to save up money for a car is key to successfully saving large amounts in a short time frame to buy your first car in the UAE. Setting clear savings targets, creating a budget to cut costs, exploring additional monthly income options, automating funds transfers, and, most importantly, maintaining financial discipline are the pillars of fast car savings.

[Do you want to learn how to manage money to buy a car in the UAE? Set up multiple debit cards to allocate money better by connecting Maly to any UAE-based bank account and start tracking your money today.] 

Key Takeaways

  • Break down the financial target into smaller, manageable milestones to make saving money more manageable.
  • While saving the whole purchase price upfront is ideal, financing alternatives like car loans accelerate the car-buying process.
  • Use automated funds transfer systems like MALY to streamline the saving process.
  • Purchasing a used car is a cost-effective alternative to buying a new car at a premium.
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