KT for good: Manage your spending habits to sail through Covid-19 crisis
Many had to say good bye to their old lifestyle and spending habits and instead become more frugal.
With pay cuts becoming the new normal, UAE residents are now adjusting to shrinking income amid the uncertainties triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many had to say good bye to their old lifestyle and spending habits and instead become more frugal.
While a few resented the disruptions, many accepted and adjusted well. Khaleej Times spoke to two families - one in Sharjah and other in Dubai - to find out how they are getting attuned to the new crunch in family budgets.
Stopped eating out, started shopping online
Pakistani couple Rahila Shafiq Shaikh and Muhammad Shoaib reside in Dubai with their two kids and like any other family, had to make a few radical changes during the outbreak of Covid-19. Shaikh adapted to the new normal by keeping kids busy and moving to online shopping while adhering to the social distancing norms.
Shaikh earns Dh15,000 and manages a family of four as her husband is also on a salary cut. She said the onset of Covid-19 helped the family save on normal weekend activities like eating out, cinemas and kids' entertainment. The family used to spend more than Dh200 every month when they took kids out for the weekend.
"We used to regularly order out. That has completely stopped now," said the mother.
"Eating out at restaurants at least twice a month was a norm and that used to cost us Dh300. We had to cut down on that too to save up on the budget."
She said impulsive shopping when they are out in the malls was another major drain on the budget. "I always used to buy clothes or toys for the kids when I am out shopping. Likewise, there is a café near my house and I would often go there and buy a coffee or snack and casually spend anything between Dh30 and 50. When I stopped these small luxuries, that made a significant difference to our expenses," said Shaikh.
She said Covid-19 also helped unleash her creativity in keeping her children entertained.
"I built a jumping castle at home. I also ordered books and toys online and bought a mini pool, which kept the children busy at home."
Normally, Shaikh would visit Carrefour twice a week, which she has replaced by online shopping.
"I write down a list of things that we need unlike the old practice of loading the trolley spontaneously. I also look for special offers and buy in bulk to cut down on grocery expenses. It is a difficult phase. But I am living in the hope that this too shall pass."
Save for the rainy day
African resident Benjamin Katungo lives in Sharjah with his wife and three kids and the family adapted to new spending habits to stay afloat during these challenging times.
The Katungos said they are extremely cautious while managing their expenses during the Covid-19 phase. Katungo earns around Dh10,000 and has to shell out Dh3,500 for rent every month. They also have to keep aside Dh2,500 for monthly grocery. Katungo's niece who is stranded in the UAE due to lockdown in Africa is also dependent on him.
"Managing my expenses is not easy as tips and incentives have come down. But we are trying to manage. It is impossible to save even a small amount like before," said Katungo, who came to the UAE in 2008. Katungo said he used to save each penny where ever possible. He does not have a loan right now and seldom uses credit card and his advice is that it is better to be financially prudent and save for the rainy day. The family adapted children-centric activities to keep the kids occupied as they are aged between five and eight years. "The kids were studying online, so it was my duty to assist them while studying," said Katungo.
Katungo's grocery buying was a walk across the road to Carrefour during pre-Covid days, but that changed to online buying ever since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Keep a check on your spending
Here are a few tips to manage your expenses and adjust to the new normal.
1-Prioritise your purchases: Instead of filling your trolley with whatever you find interesting, buy only what you really need. While going out for grocery shopping, it's better to keep a list of the things you need to buy. Make sure you stick to the list and avoid impulsive shopping.
2-Go shopping online: Many leading hypermarkets in the UAE have special offers for online shoppers. And it's more recommended for those shoppers who just buy the things they find attractive in the shopping shelves.
3-Save every dirham: During these tough times, every single dirham in your wallet is valuable. So, when you go shopping, look for an alternative brand that come at a smaller price without compromising on quality than your regular one.
4-Hunt for offers: Almost all the major hypermarkets have weekly offers on certain goods and you can save some money by choosing from those. But make sure that you purchase only necessary things. You may find that new mobile phone or some other gadget you love to own at an offer price. But think before you buy that. Do you really need that now? If the answer is no, look for the things you really need.
5-Keep an account on your spending: You can do it the smart way on the conventional way. There are many apps available on both iOS and android that help you track your expenses. It would better help you control where you spend those extra bucks on.