It is extremely important for all women – be it married, single, separated, widowed or divorced to be financially independent. It’s always wise to have a realistic financial strategy; whether you’re making great strides on your five-year plan or taking it a day at a time trying to hold on to your job,
There are so many investment opportunities to take advantage of in the Middle East, but make sure you’ve covered the basics and are being smart with your finances before you go all in, so make the most of your hard-earned money with these essential tips.
 
Create an emergency fund today 
Most experts will recommend that each of us has somewhere between three to six months worth of everyday living expenses (rent, essential bills, school fees, groceries, etc.) covered in their ’emergency fund’. Ideally, this amount should be independent of your partner, but both are encouraged to set this up – this also means double the savings, should the unforeseen arise.
 
Stick to saving 20% each month
The 50/30/20 rule of budgeting is well-known for a reason: 50% for all things essential, 30% for Luxury items, and 20% for savings or financial goals. If you can adjust that further to see more savings, even better, but don’t aim for lower than 20%. Many women find themselves hitting their savings target with relative ease with focused efforts so, if you’re one of them, start saving more.
 
Shop responsibly 
Never, ever impulse buy if you’re looking to purchase something expensive. Wait for at least a couple of days and, more often than not, you’ll find that you’ve completely forgotten about it – this should make you wonder just how essential it is. Avoid going to the mall to stay away from temptation and be mindful of inflated sale prices as they can be clever marketing ploys. If you like something, compare prices across different sites to make an informed decision.
 
Don’t live off your credit cards.
Credit cards can be great when used wisely. Aside from the obvious such as paying off credit card balances as soon as possible and only using it for essentials, shop around to see what’s out there as many banks offer welcome perks such as cashback and travel-related points. Just remember to question how and when interest is calculated along with all related fees and potential year-on-year changes.
 
Think about retirement early
While it’s not easy to think about, it’s necessary. As expatriates living in the United Arab Emirates and other countries in the Gulf region, the gratuity payout at the end of your tenure is usually attractive enough to keep you at ease, but consider setting up a private pension in your home country (for ease of access) early on. For women who are self-employed or reliant on their partners, this is even more important.
 
Stick to cold, hard cash
If you find yourself stretched by the end of the month and don’t know where all your money has gone, consider hiding your cards and only using cash. Today’s tap and go trend makes mindless spending far too easy. You’d be surprised by how much more aware you’ll be about spending money when you have to count and hand over individual notes with every transaction.
 
Accept change will come.
When it comes to budgets and planning, even the best can fail. It’s also worth acknowledging that your priorities can change with time. For example, more and more women are thinking about giving up toxic work environments, looking for part-time roles so they can care for their children, or are keen to start their own business. Whatever your situation, financial independence is always worth striving for, so make it a priority.
 
Invest only when you’re ready
Once you’re in a stable financial position, consider long-term investing. This can seem overwhelming with new developments daily like cryptocurrency, but a little knowledge goes a long way. Start by signing up for introductory workshops and reading related books –Clever Girl Finance: Learn How Investing Works, Grow Your Money by Bola Sokunbi is a great choice – before reaching out to trusted professional advisors so you’ll be more confident in conversations and can take charge of your own financial future.

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