Thrifty habits will help to nav­i­gate your way through these trou­bled times

The National - News - - MONEY BUSINESS - ZACH HOLZ

I’ve been spend­ing a lot of time in Dubai’s malls over the past few weeks. Not to go shop­ping though, but to walk.

I’ve taken on a walk­ing chal­lenge that started at 15,000 steps a day, and re­cently in­creased to 25,000 steps a day. With tem­per­a­tures so high at the mo­ment, it seemed sen­si­ble to do the walk­ing in malls, where it’s air con­di­tioned. Plenty of oth­ers are also vis­it­ing the malls while I’m do­ing my daily march, but un­like me they are loaded down with shop­ping bags.

I’m sure that the stores are very happy to have cus­tomers back. But this con­spic­u­ous con­sump­tion also has me cu­ri­ous and a lit­tle wor­ried. Are these peo­ple laden with fancy bags full of shiny pur­chases mak­ing good eco­nomic de­ci­sions? Or are they spend­ing their way to ruin in a global econ­omy that is still reel­ing from the ef­fects of Covid-19?

In un­cer­tain eco­nomic sit­u­a­tions, it is vi­tal you pri­ori­tise your spend­ing to­wards your needs, and not your wants.

This can feel like oner­ous belt-tight­en­ing. But, I prom­ise that your fu­ture self will thank your cur­rent re­straint when you make it through the other side of this sit­u­a­tion.

So if friv­o­lous spend­ing is to be dis­cour­aged, where ex­actly should your money be di­rected? This should be to your needs and specif­i­cally five key ar­eas:


First make sure you have enough to pay your rent or your mort­gage. This may be a great time to move as rents are drop­ping. It’s also a great time to down­size, as this can fur­ther re­duce this ex­pense. Imag­ine how low your elec­tric­ity and wa­ter bills would be if you had a smaller place.

House­hold bills

Make sure you pay all your house­hold bills on time, such as your util­i­ties and in­ter­net charges. Now is a great time to re­duce those ex­penses as well. Let your AC sit at a higher tem­per­a­ture and turn it off when you leave the house.

Make sure there are no leaks in your wa­ter sys­tem caus­ing wa­ter to be wasted with­out your knowl­edge. Also try to re­duce your phone bill by us­ing less data when you’re not on Wi-Fi, or switch­ing to a cheaper provider.

School fees

Schools will hope­fully be open once again at the end of Au­gust, and your chil­dren need a place to learn and so­cialise. Make sure the money is there for them to at­tend.

Schools are scram­bling for stu­dents, so it might be a good time to ne­go­ti­ate lower fees.


You have to eat, but you can also eat less ex­pen­sive prod­ucts and cook more ef­fi­ciently. Have you tried batch cook­ing large por­tions and eat­ing them over a few days?

Make sure you are eat­ing things that boost your im­mune sys­tem such as fruit and veg­gies. But don’t for­get rice, beans, lentils, oats and other sta­ples.


Can you switch to a cheaper model or af­ford to clear your can loan if you lose your job? These are fac­tors to con­sider in these eco­nom­i­cally un­cer­tain times. Could your fam­ily sell a car and sur­vive with just one ve­hi­cle to cut costs? Ei­ther way, you need to trans­port your­self to work, so find­ing a wal­let-friendly so­lu­tion is key.

Be­yond these five key cat­e­gories, it’s also im­por­tant to cut back on your spend­ing and pri­ori­tise your needs over your wants. Re­mem­ber, this is only tem­po­rary. We will over­come this, and then we can re­turn to a more nor­mal life. But for now, be safe and save.

Dubai school­teacher Zach Holz (@Hap­pi­estTeach) doc­u­ments his jour­ney to­wards fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence on his per­sonal fi­nance blog The Hap­pi­est Teacher

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