Coronavirus Pandemic

Combating coronavirus: Beat the pandemic with your new normal budget Filed on July 12, 2020 | Last updated on July 12, 2020 at 06.04 am
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In the UAE, job cuts and the decline in company earnings have made the news.

For families around the world, the new normal that emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic was not only about wearing masks, frequent hand-washing and social distancing: Tighter budgets have also been part of almost every household.

In the UAE, job cuts and the decline in company earnings have made the news. Some residents have had to make do with salaries that were reduced from 30 to 50 per cent, while others have to find either a new job or a new source of income. Among the hardest hit were those in the aviation and banking sector, along with other segments of the economy.

The time of Covid-19 was tough - but it certainly wasn't all gloom and doom. In fact, hope came shining through as the country gradually reopened and restarted economic activity. In a show of resiliency, residents - along with the rest of the UAE - adapted to the new normal and soldiered on.

The change in income called for a change in spending habits. For Dubai resident Wind Goma, shopping and food deliveries were the first ones to go.

"I've had to do quite an adjustment, financially speaking, since the Covid-19 crisis happened because the income is less and the payables remain the same - if not higher," Wind said.

To make ends meet, Wind faced the problem squarely. First, she reviewed her usual expenditure and cut it down to a minimum.

She also set a number of Covid budget rules for herself: No takeaway meals. No unnecessary shopping. Limit meet-ups with friends. Avoid going out as much as possible. Stay healthy, inside and out.

Wind had to recreate her kind of 'luxury' at the comfort of her home. "I would make sure I have everything I need in the kitchen and just cook the fancy dishes I would normally crave and get from restaurants. It saves me a lot of money," she said.

Resident Fatema Hunaid has also been adapting to a new lifestyle where spending is controlled.

"This is a difficult time as we resume the new norm while doing damage control. Now, we've adopted the new norm where spending is controlled. So, once things go back to how they were - in terms of payscale - this would be a great opportunity to begin saving again," Hunaid said.

A lot more effort now goes into grocery shopping, she said, as they now evaluate which stores are selling cheaper items.

"For example, the fruit and vegetable market offer fresh produce at lower prices. We also became more sensible in terms of spending on things that weren't necessary. As we stay home, fuel and lunch costs also went down, so it kind of compensated for the tighter budget. Overall, this phase has brought more wisdom to us," Hunaid said.

T.Thomas George and Freda George, an Indian couple based in Sharjah, said their family had to "chalk out" a lifestyle for the new normal so everyone in the household will be able to understand the situation.

"During these challenging times, we were extremely cautious on our spending patterns. We prioritised our necessity and spent accordingly. Extravagant spending was cut off and more discipline was put in place," they said.

But trimming the budget didn't mean forgetting the fun, the couple stressed. "We entertained ourselves with our little home-grown garden and sharpened some cooking skills." 



Sandhya D'Mello

Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Khaleej Times, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.

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