Why is Saving Money So Hard in the UAE? 10 Challenges And How to Overcome Them

Why is saving money hard in the UAE? We'll list the top 10 challenges we face and provide expert money-saving tips to overcome them, including new tools to help us.

No matter where you live in the world, you must have asked yourself at least once in your life, "Why is saving money hard?"

This is particularly true if you live in Dubai, a big spender’s paradise where money seems to have the ability to disappear like a magician's rabbit!

A high cost of living, the temptation to spend, and a consumerist culture mean that it’s tough for many Dubai residents to achieve financial independence. The city consistently ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the world for expats and recently made it into a list of the top 20 priciest places to live.

If you constantly struggle to save anything in your bank account, then you’re not alone.

Expats living in the UAE face many challenges when it comes to saving money and the lack of funding options like employer-sponsored saving plans doesn’t help.

To make saving easier for you, we've put together 10 of the most workable money-saving tips so you can finally start building your savings.

We're going to cover the following challenges and explain how you can overcome each one of them simply and efficiently:

[Make saving a regular habit and visually track the growth of your savings through MALY, the money-saving mobile application made for the UAE market.]

Why is saving money hard? Top tips to overcome the top 10 challenges

Challenge #1: The high cost of living

It’s no secret that the cost of living in the UAE is steep. Rent, utilities, gas, and groceries come with a hefty price tag, especially in the UAE’s most expensive cities.

For many expats who are used to lower costs back home, this increase in living expenses can be a significant barrier to saving money.

In the end, when so much of your income goes towards necessities, it leaves little to contribute to savings goals. This is by far one of the biggest obstacles to saving that we must learn to overcome.

Challenge #2: Keeping up appearances

Why is saving money hard in the UAE, especially in the country's largest city? Well, Dubai is well-known for its glamorous, materialistic culture. Many feel pressure to maintain a particular lifestyle and standard of living to fit in. Whether its designer clothes, luxury cars, five-star brunches, or first-class holidays, keeping up appearances often prevents people from saving.

This desire to “keep up with the Joneses” leaves little income to stash away each month.

The end result: Prioritizing status symbols over savings goals keeps your bank account empty.

Money saving tips

The urge to keep up appearances is common when moving to Dubai. Yet, according to experts, we should avoid the trap of spending just to impress others.

To quote Dave Ramsey, a personal finance expert and host of The Dave Ramsey Show with 13 million weekly listeners, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”

In other words, define what actually matters to you. Redirect money towards those values rather than what society expects.

why is saving money hard

Here are some tips based on Dave Ramsey’s advice:

  1. Pack lunch instead of eating out.
  1. Shop second-hand or discount stores for clothes.
  1. Find the cheapest supermarkets in Dubai for essential items.
  1. Take public transport instead of buying a car (possibly financed by an expensive car loan).
  1. You don’t need designer items to enjoy life here. Focus less on maintaining a particular image and more on creating financial security.

Challenge #3: Easy access to credit

Finance is easy to access in the UAE thanks to abundant credit card offers and lenient lending policies. When you can buy now and pay later, it’s also tempting to splurge on wants rather than needs.

Then, you get stuck repaying debt rather than saving money.

High-interest rates on loans and credit cards derail many UAE residents’ savings efforts. Relying on credit to fund purchases is a big reason why it’s so hard to save money for some.

Challenge #4: Online shopping convenience

Between noon.com, Amazon, Namshi, and many others, online shopping makes buying things way too convenient in the UAE if you’re trying to save money.

Sayed Imran Qamar, Head of Fintech at Paycaps, notes, “Today, you are one search away from your favorite commodities and services. All you have to do is type the keywords of your required services in the search bar, and that’s it!”

The instant gratification from purchasing products from your phone makes it harder to resist impulse purchases.

money saving tips

Mindless online shopping has become a budget killer for many in the UAE. “One-click” checkouts don’t give your brain time to think twice about unnecessary items crowding your cart.

Shihan Sheriff, a UAE-based Amazon self-published author, also recommends, “Before spending on expensive items, it’s worth comparing the prices across a minimum of two or more vendors.”

why is saving money hard

Challenge #5: An abundance of options

From world-class malls to endless brunches, life in the UAE offers unlimited possibilities to burn through cash.

With so many shopping, dining, and entertainment options everywhere you turn, FOMO often sets in if you say ‘no’ to a plan.

It’s hard to resist trying to do everything.

However, this desire to take advantage of everything the UAE offers may mean there won’t be enough money left to put towards your monthly savings if you overindulge. An abundance of options can lead to overspending.

Challenge #6: Living from one paycheck to the next

If you’re asking yourself “why is saving money hard?”, then it may be because you’re living from one paycheck to the next.

It’s easy to overspend the first couple weeks after payday, leaving you short on cash by month’s end. Many UAE residents run out of money before the next paycheck comes. This financial situation drives them to rely on credit cards or loans to bridge the gap.

When your money runs out before the month does, you end up borrowing from the next month’s income rather than saving any current income. This paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle is a major barrier to building savings.

Wondering how to save money in such circumstances? Our next expert tips answer thoroughly.

Challenge #7: Lack of future planning

Many expats move to the UAE focused on the short-term rather than the long-term and prioritize their current lifestyle over future savings.

With no clarity on future goals, spending every dirham earned is easy.

However, this short-sightedness means they leave the UAE without the financial means to maintain their lifestyle back home. A lack of future planning leads to underfunded retirement accounts and savings.

why is saving money so hard in uae

Challenge #8: No savings account separation

Many UAE residents keep all their money in a single checking account for everyday spending. Without separating funds, any leftover cash at month end tends to get spent instead of saved.

No barriers between spending and savings accounts mean it’s tempting to “dip into” money set aside for the future. Keeping it all in one pot makes it too easy to spend.

Challenge #9: Lack of savings strategy

It’s common for UAE residents to put leftover scraps of income towards savings – if anything is left over. Yet this unintentional approach yields fewer results than having an intentional savings strategy.

With the recent decrease in disposable income, a YouGov survey showed that many UAE residents prioritize increased savings and investing to manage their finances long-term better. Still, saving random amounts of money without clear goals often leads to throwing insignificant cash crumbs into savings.

money saving tips

Challenge #10: Not enough income

Sometimes a simple lack of income makes it challenging to build more savings. That might sound hopeless, but increasing your income is within your control.

When your paycheck doesn’t let you put money away, believing that more income is possible can be challenging. However, in reality, your capacity to earn extra cash is limitless. So, next time you ask yourself why saving money is hard, consider starting a side hustle to make more money.

Reading the above 10 challenges, you probably know by now why saving money is hard in the UAE. However, we've saved a solution for the end.

Saving money in the UAE using a mobile application

Using mobile apps can be a great way to save money in the UAE. While some apps offer price comparisons, others offer cashback and discounts and allow users to track their spending.

Yet with many apps available on the market, it’s important to choose the right app according to your needs and financial status.

MALY is a new money-saving app that is specifically designed for the UAE market. It allows users to set up automatic savings plans, save by rounding up their daily purchases to the nearest dirham, and track their progress toward their financial goals.

MALY also offers a free Visa debit card that can be used to spend saved money. It's a convenient, transparent, secure, and free way to save money and build better financial habits.

People also ask

What is the hardest part about saving money?

The hardest part of saving money is resisting overspending on unnecessary purchases. With easy access to credit and shopping in the UAE, creating financial discipline is challenging. Sticking to a savings strategy takes practice and conscious effort.

What are the five main reasons why it’s difficult to save money in the UAE?

We believe these are the top culprits:

  1. High cost of living
  1. Pressure to keep up appearances and lifestyle
  1. Easy access to loans and credit cards
  1. Convenience of online shopping
  1. An abundance of entertainment and dining options

Do people struggle with saving money?

Yes, many people struggle to save money, especially those living in the higher cost UAE cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Challenges include the consumerist culture, the short-term mindset of expats, and the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. However, setting clear financial goals and an intentional savings strategy can help overcome these struggles.

[Looking to set up a weekly or monthly savings plan or automate savings from your daily purchases. Simply connect MALY to any UAE-based bank and start tracking your savings as they grow.]

Takeaways

  • The high cost of living in the UAE, including expenses like rent, utilities, gas, and groceries, can make it challenging to save money.
  • Easy access to credit cards and loans in the UAE can encourage impulsive spending that prevents saving.
  • Many UAE residents struggle with a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, often running out of money before the end of the month, which hinders savings.
  • The convenience of online shopping platforms makes it easy to overspend, as instant gratification can lead to impulse purchases.
  • MALY is a mobile money-saving application designed for the UAE market that helps users meet target-based saving goals.
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