Dubai: At the start of every New Year, many people set out with goals to make the next 365 days of their lives the best they can be. They vow to lose weight, improve their finances or land a better-paying job, but with all the good intentions in the world, only a small fraction is able to stick to their resolutions.
The key to keeping New Year’s resolutions is not just writing them down, but having a specific action plan for each one, and if becoming a millionaire or saving money is at the top of your list, you’ve come to the right place. Financial experts in Dubai have shared sure-fire ways to avoid setting yourself up for failure on the money front and start building your Dh1 million.
Here are the best ways to help you achieve your get-rich goal this year:
Get a better bank account
Perhaps your bank doesn’t pay you any interest at all on your savings deposits or is charging you unnecessary fees? Are you not getting cashback on your purchases or discounts when you use your debit/credit card? If your answer is yes to any of these, it’s high time you shift to another bank account.
“Make sure your bank account is working for you rather than against you,” according to a spokesperson for National Bonds. “This is one of the easiest first steps you can take. If your bank account is charging you unnecessary fees and is not offering you attractive perks or benefits, it’s time to make a change. Choose an account that suits your individual requirements and offers you a competitive interest rate with no minimum balance.”
Consider Shariah-compliant finance and banking tools, as they could provide a rewarding option for individuals looking to save money.
Avoid buying on an impulse
In a country where shopping malls are mushrooming everywhere and bargain offers pop up almost every pay day, people are very inclined to make unplanned purchases. Buying stuff on an impulse is usually an emotionally driven, spur-of-the-moment thing and it can range from small to large amounts. And if you’re not keeping an eye out on your daily or weekly outgoings, you’d be surprise to find one day that you have zero money left in your bank account.
To help control the urge, here’s a three-day rule to keep in mind. “Wait three days before you make a purchase. If you find a product which you want to buy, waiting three days can help you determine if you really need it or not. While taking three days to decide whether or not you want to buy something may seem excessive, it will help you build healthy spending habits in the long run. This is what a financial planner calls sleep on it,” National Bonds suggested.
Record your expenses
To always know how much money is flying out of your wallet, try downloading an app that helps you record and categorise all your expenses, suggested Vijay Valecha, chief market analyst at Century Financial. “This helps people realize what is the major wastage point and thus adds to savings,” he said. “Overspending occurs when people do not realize where they have spent their money, one should download an app that helps them record and categorize all their expenses.”
Pack your lunch
Packing lunches to work can be a very time-consuming affair and if you have a very demanding job and a huge family to juggle, it takes a superhuman feat to cook a meal every single day. But consider how much money you save if you avoid the urge of ordering food every lunch hour. That’s nearly Dh4,000 a year, if you spend an average of Dh16 at your office cafeteria.
If your hands are always full on week days, try preparing your meals in advance, during the weekend. Search online for “quick meal prep” recipes, so that you have your lunches cooked and packed on your day off and you don’t have to worry about cooking on a daily basis. The great thing is that you can bring down the cost of every meal and you know exactly what goes in your packed lunch.
“Most working people aren’t used to carrying lunch to their workplace and end up eating out. One can save a considerable amount of money and calories if they carry their lunch from home,” said Valecha.
Choose the right cards
If you really have to use a credit card, choose your provider wisely. The privileges, discounts and charges on every credit card vary from one bank to another. Keep an eye out for interest rates, cashback offers and benefits. If you choose wisely, you can make your credit card work for you, not your bank, and ultimately, you get to cut down on expenses and save money.
“People do not realize the amount of money that is wasted on having the right credit card for your expenses. There are multiple cards that give higher cashbacks on the kind of individual spends one has,” said Valecha.
Get in the habit of walking
Minimise your dependence on transport and take a hike. If it’s possible to walk to the Metro station, ditch the car, especially if it’s a gas-guzzler. You won’t just save money on fuel, you spare your wallet from paying thousands of dirhams every year on traffic fines, registration, insurance, maintenance and Salik fees. Taking a taxi is not an option, either.
“In today’s extreme technology age, it is great to try to walk short distances rather than looking for an Uber or Careem. It not only improves the wallet for today, but also the medical bills in the future,” said Valecha.
Build a budget, and build it right*
Trying to budget is not always enough, you must budget the right way. Follow four simple steps to make sure your budget is as accurate and beneficial as possible:
1. Total all your monthly income
2. Split all your expenses into two categories: fixed and variable
3. Make room for emergency adjustments
4. Review your budget monthly. For budgeting-beginners, the 50/20/30 rule is a good way to get into the habit of organizing your finances. Start by spending 50 per cent of your income on living expenses (rent and bills), 20 per cent on debt reduction or saving, and 30 per cent on flexible spending. But before that, pay yourself first by putting aside 10 per cent to 15 per cent from your monthly income.
Avoid accumulating new debt*
Sometimes, debt is unavoidable. For example, people take on loans to buy their first home or an unforeseen medical expense has come up and, in situations like these, paying in a lump sum is not a possibility. If you are going to take out a loan, make sure you put as much downpayment as possible against your cost of purchase.
This will help you repay in a shorter time frame and reduce the amount of interest you accumulate. Be conscious of the installment amount you must pay each month and make sure you do not miss payments – this is the easiest way to accumulate new debt. And avoid a loan for your down payment if you can’t even save this then you are not ready to buy a house.
Here's the critical part: Set aside a fixed amount of money each month
So, how do you start saving to make Dh1 million, you ask?
Committing to save and exploring avenues to cut down on expenses is just one part of the plan. The other key to buliding Dh1 million is to decide how much money you want to set aside each month. A financial planner had earlier told Gulf News that it’s possible to make Dh1 million by saving money for seven years, which is the average length of time people stay in the Gulf.
Let’s say you set aside Dh5,000 every month, you can grow that into Dh1 million over time. The key is to take advantage of the power of compound interest.and avoid touching the money for 13 years.
“If a 30-year-old saver was to save Dh5,000 a month for seven years at 5 per cent interest, but left the pot to mature at 6 per cent interest until the age of 50, he/she would have earned Dh1,000,000. Therefore, it is clear to see the benefits of saving earlier but for less time using the power of compound interest,” said Hamzah Shalchi, regional manager of Guardian Wealth Management.
“The idea is to invest a decent amount of savings every month for seven years and then do not touch it for [another] 13 years so that it accumulates interest, which eventually grows the savings pot into Dh1 million,” Shalchi said.