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Managing personal finance: how to manage your money

Debt and money worries cause stress and poor mental health. Conversely, when people can manage their money, they are more resilient and better able to support their families and communities. To help you master your personal finances, we’ve come up with some tips on five areas of money management.

Budgeting

To budget, start by listing your most important monthly expenses. Put them into three categories:

1. ‘needs’: what you have to pay for – rent, debt payments and bills

2. ‘essentials’ like food and toiletries

3. ‘discretionary’ items that you’d like but don’t need.

Then look at the income you’re expecting to receive in the month.

Deduct your expenses from your income to get a ‘balance’. If the expenses are higher than the income, reconsider costs in the discretionary list or choose less expensive essentials.

You might try the 50-30-20 budget to help you save:

  • 50% towards essential items and needs
  • 30% towards your wants
  • 20% towards savings and repayments.

If you have debts, plan to pay them off as quickly as possible. Talk to your bank about a restructuring loan and set realistic and achievable repayment goals to make sure you stay on track.

Finally, keep receipts and a record of your transactions so you can review your budget each month. This will help you monitor your income and expenses, so that you can check your finances are going to plan.

Spending

Always prioritise your ‘needs’, such as groceries, over your ‘wants’ – luxury items like iPhones, jewellery or designer handbags. Your needs and wants will change throughout your life, according to your lifestyle, whether you start a family, and what you can afford.

Watch out for hidden charges, especially when shopping online. These could be currency exchange fees, import taxes or other added costs. Pause at the online checkout and look carefully at the total price before making your payment.

If you have a credit card, use it wisely. Aim to pay at least the minimum amount each month, including interest, to avoid charges and high interest rates, as well as paying off some of what you’ve borrowed. This will also help keep your credit card debt under control.

Saving

Once you’ve got used to budgeting, you’ll find it easier to start saving.

Life is unpredictable, so aim to save at least 10% of your monthly income for any unforeseen economic surprises or expenses in the future.

When you get into the habit of saving, you’ll be able to build up funds for more expensive purchases – such as holidays, a deposit on a home, and securing your family’s future needs.

Investing

If you’re interested in investing your money, you need to consider how much you can afford to invest. This is called your ‘risk appetite’. Be aware that your attitude to risk will change according to your age and what stage of life you’re at.

You should always diversify your wealth between cash, assets and investment products.

And always get your financial information from a reliable source, such as official newspapers and government announcements.

Banking

In the UAE, we have an excellent choice of different banking services to suit every preference.

You can go to your local bank branch, get money from a cashpoint machine (or ATM). Or you might prefer internet banking, phone banking or using mobile apps.

If you’re opening a bank account, take time to discuss these options with the bank representative. Think about your financial needs, and don’t be afraid to ask the bank representative questions, to make sure you choose the right products for your circumstances.

Before you sign any banking documents, make sure you:

  • have read all the documents, including the small print
  • fully understand your obligations and what you’re committing yourself to
  • are aware of any charges you’ll be paying for services or transactions.

If anything’s unclear, ask the bank representative to explain it.

Check your current account and credit card transactions regularly – either online or by reviewing paper statements. If there’s anything unusual, report it immediately to your bank.

This will also help you decide whether you need to adjust your budget or restructure your finances.

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