Some expat teachers say it is impossible to save while teaching in the Middle East and Asia. However, I disagree, even though I can completely understand why some don’t save a lot, with the amazing social life here. Here are 7 things I do in my daily life that have allowed me:
- To travel practically every school holiday the last 8 years (Cuba, China, Tanzania, Greece, America, Sri Lanka, Peru, Thailand, Oman, Iran, etc.)
- To pay for my family to come out to see me in Qatar and Dubai
- To buy a 4-bedroom house in Ireland 4 years ago and a 3-bedroom apartment in Spain last year (both are fully paid off)
- To do my MA in London 3 years ago
Remember everything extra (no matter how little) you save each month soon builds up over 12 months X 2 years. See if any of these will help you save 1,000 AED/ QR this month…
1) SAVE MONEY ON YOUR PHONE BILL!
How much do you spend on your mobile phone bill every month? On average in the UAE, people pay 200 AED to 300 AED for 5GB to 10GB of data per month. That is a lot of money when we convert it to euros or GBP! In Qatar, mobile data was much more reasonable- I remember paying 100 AED/ month for unlimited data. So when I arrived to Dubai in September, I couldn’t believe it! For the first 2 years, I used Etisalat Unlimited Social Plan, which is 49 AED/ month for unlimited access to Whassap, Facebook (including FB Messenger), Twitter, LinkedIn, and BBM. This year, I have signed up to Virgin Mobile as it is the best value plan I have found so far in the UAE. Moreover, if you use my Promo Code: SORCH81356 both you and I will get 1 GB extra free for 3 months! Read more here about how I transferred to Virgin Mobile.
SAVING= AT LEAST 150 AED/ MONTH
2) SAVE MONEY ON YOUR TV BILL!
Some expat teachers pay to have the British channels included in their TV package which can be quite expensive or they pay a monthly VPN or for Netflix. A friend introduced me to this wonderful legal and FREE website, which allows you to watch the UK channels live. They have BBC1/2/ 3, ITV 1/ 2/ 3/ 4, Channel 4, E4, Channel 5, and tonnes more. You can also record up to an hour’s programming for free: Filmon.com
SAVING= AT LEAST 100 AED/ MONTH
3) SAVE MONEY ON YOUR TREATS!
Before you buy a massage/ get nails done/ have a hotel beach & pool day, always check Groupon (UAE) or Qgrabs (Qatar) for any offers. The Entertainer app is also wonderful for saving you money on eating out, theme parks, etc., especially when you have visitors over!
SAVING= AT LEAST 70 to 100 AED/ MONTH
4) SAVE MONEY ON BANK FEES!
Check your bank account- what freebies do you get? Most credit cards in the Middle East offer great bonuses (such as cash back or air miles for every AED/ QR you spend). Not all charge an annual fee either, so do your research by asking a few banks about what they offer. Don’t just go with the bank your school uses. Read more in my article, “Why you should choose your bank very carefully as an expat teacher.”
Expat teachers in the UAE, use Souqalmal to compare credit cards to find the best deal for you. This is only if you feel confident that you can pay back your card in full every month because it is too easy to get into debt here.
SAVING= 165 AED / MONTH (no annual credit card fee saves 500 AED/ year + free airport lounge access saves 990 AED/ year + enough air miles for a short flight saves 600 AED)
5) SAVE MONEY ON BUYING PHONES, LAPTOPS, ETC.
For big purchases such as mobile phones, TVs, laptops, etc., wait until the sales and shopping festivals take place. There are always sales for the month of January and during Ramadan and Eid. In Dubai, these regularly happen throughout the year. Google to see when the main sales are on in your city. Then when the sales are on, check 4 or 5 shops, their offers, and choose the best one!
SAVING= AT LEAST 500 AED
6) KNOW WHAT DISCOUNTS ARE OUT THERE!
At every shop, restaurant, hotel, etc., ask them if there are discounts for teachers, government employees (if you work at a government school), your school group, or with your credit/ debit card. It takes one minute and costs you nothing to find out! Then pass on any good news to your friends!
You can also download the UAE Offers app, which shows you the main offers in the stores in the UAE. Essentially, it is a quick way to look at the front page of those leaflets supermarkets have each week, but very helpful!
7) SAVE MONEY WHEN YOU BUY A MAC BOOK!
If you want an Apple Mac, ask your student friends to buy it for you as they get a great discount!
SAVING= 15% of the price of the Mac model
BONUS TIP (FOR IRISH TEACHERS!): We pay an annual government tax (I think it is called stamp duty?) on our Irish debit and credit cards, but did you know that if we change our address on our online banking account to anywhere outside Ireland, we are exempt from paying it? There is at least a 50 Euro saving there!
Join our supportive Empowering Expat Teachers FB group here where I share tips and resources to help you become a personally, professionally and financially empowered expat teacher!
If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy “7 Ways to Earn More Money This Year” or “Why expat teachers need to prioritise saving over socialising”
I’d love to hear what you think of these tips or if you have any advice on saving, please leave a comment below- I love hearing your feedback!