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Cost of Living is pretty higher in Abu Dhabi compared to the other Emirates. One of the major reasons, most of us left our home countries and are living our Expat life is for the purpose of earning a living, support our families back home and taking back some money home for the rest of our lives. And when we are here living our life as a Family, the expenses get heavier.
I have always been a moderate shopaholic. I wasn’t good with the idea of spending heavy amounts for our everyday lives. Neither have I ever been that stingy lady comparing the prices of every products found on a Department Store shelf. But as life gets tougher with one more little member who was added to our family two years ago and the expenses of everyday living increasing rapidly, there were those times that got me thinking how to save a little more for my little piggy bank that I have been saving up for a lovely vacation.
It has got me thinking, and yes after discussing this with few of the home makers of Abu Dhabi, I was surprised to hear many of those little but definitely helpful techniques they have been using to save money on an everyday basis. So I also started making those little changes and I can see that reflecting over at my little Piggy bank already 🙂 Here are a few of the Tips from my own five years of living in Abu Dhabi and the ones I see our Family friends employ in their lives. I am sure every Family has a little secret to save money off their grocery bills and yes! Once you are done reading please do share them with me as well and I would love to add up those points to this list 🙂
How to Save Money on Grocery Shopping in Abu Dhabi?
All these Tips are valid in all of UAE too, though I titled it as Abu Dhabi. Most of it is based on my experience of living for the past 5 years in Abu Dhabi, other Emirates could have even better Money Saving Options too that I am not really aware of 🙂 Please do share them with me 🙂
1. Schedule your Shopping on a Weekly Basis
We were earlier living at Mussaffah just close to Fresh N More Hypermarket. And having a Department store so close-by meant shopping every evening! I never bothered to schedule my shopping and we later on realized we had no control over what and when we were buying our grocery. This also meant we were not really aware of how much we were spending on a weekly/monthly basis on our grocery. Now we have moved our home and we live in a villa where we have no department or grocery stores at a walking distance. This means no everyday shopping and we had to write down our stuffs and schedule them for our weekend shopping when we got to visit the Department Stores. And guess what. This has really started to make a difference to us. Now we have a Weekly shopping budget and we know exactly how much we spend on an average every week.
2. Weekends means DEALS
Weekends are the time most of the stores run a SALE, DEALS and SAVERS. As I mentioned above, when we changed to weekend shopping, this also means we get to avail these weekend DEALS and SAVERS.
It would also be a good idea to Follow your preferred Department Stores through their Social Media channels like Facebook so that you can easily watch out for their special offers and promotions.
3. Make your Shopping List
When you make it a point to do the shopping only during weekends, the chances of missing out many important items are very common. Not having a list of items to shop also can lead to shopping for many unplanned items too. Now most of us are busy. And who has that time to make a list? Here’s what I have started doing recently. I keep a Sticky notes pad and a pen on the top of my Fridge and it being easily accessible from my pantry, I always note down the items that are almost about to finish. And when its time for the shopping, I simply take out the sheet containing the list and head off to my shopping.
4. Buy In Bulk
For the consumable items like Detergent, Floor cleaner etc which doesn’t expire for longer periods and are needed at home always, I go for buying them at CLEARANCE/DEALS. Most of the department stores run very good whole sale offers for such products like Buy 2 get 1 FREE etc. As for the Detergents, I always go for the 6 KG offers that can last me for almost 4 months.
5. Go For In-House Brands
Bigger Department stores like Lulu, Carrefour always have products with their own label. These products are always cheaper than the very Popular Brands. Well, there are often products cheaper than in house brands too. But I usually go for these in-house brands because they always have a good quality and are well priced. As they cannot compromise on their reputation, you can always find that products with their labels comply with all the required standards.
6. Mobile Apps for comparison
As for me, I have two LuLu Outlets and Carrefour as the Department Stores nearby that we usually do our grocery shopping from. Same stores run different kinds of promotions at different outlets. As for LuLu, you can download their App available on Android and I-phone and you can always have a go through with their various promotions running at their different outlets prior to going on your shopping for the weekend. It’s not really practical to go to each outlet to get the lower priced items from each store. But you could see the majority of the items that has promotion and that you require and choose your store for the week accordingly. Carrefour also has a similar App where you can get their latest promotion brochures.
There is also an App named UAE offers on Android. This App has all the latest promotions. Below is a screenshot of the this App and you can choose the store you want to check for their latest offers and brochures. All in one place. 🙂
There is also this website, Sallety.ae of the Dubai Government. You can compare the prices of various products in different stores through them.
7. Beam Wallet
Though this Mobile App Beam Wallet has been there for some time, it is recently that it has started to become popular among everyone. As for myself, it was through a few Facebook Groups that I realised how helpful this App is in getting to know about your nearby promotions as well as in getting you on the spot discounts and offers. I just started using Beam after hearing many reviews from friends and I shall write a detailed post soon on how to make maximum use of this fabulous App for your shopping in UAE.
8. Online Shopping
If you have kids at home, you know how fast your expenses as a Family increases. From Diapers to wipes to Bathing items and many more, you find yourself totally immersed in Baby Bills. Until your kids are potty trained, Diapers and wipes are bound to be one of the show stoppers on your grocery bills. It was then that I realized online shopping can really give you Huge Discounts when it comes to these products and when you buy them in a bit of BULK which you really need anyway. Souq.com has really great offers on their Baby section and I have become a great fan of it. Just watch out for their best offers and order them in a little advance. It takes upto 5 working days to get it delivered and sometimes you can get them as fast as in 1 or 2 days too.
Also you can keep watching their DEALS of the DAY page for everyday offers on different everyday products.
9. Go to the Local Markets
This is something we do not do any more. While we stayed in Abu Dhabi City, we used to visit the Central Market for Fish as well as vegetables. These markets usually offer veggies at a very reasonable rates. One of my aunt always go weekly shopping at the Central Market with two of her friends. They pick up veggies in a Carton especially tomatoes etc. which always have a good whole sale deal and they divide it among themselves. This way they get their Fresh veggies for the week at really reasonable rates.
As for buying Fish from Central Market, I have always had my bad experiences. I would say, if you are not an expert at finding the Fresh Fish, don’t try to venture as you can easily be cheated. I haven’t had luck buying Fish from the Bigger Department stores either. It could be just me. I want the Fish to be as Fresh as possible. Thank god I was able to find a few smaller Fish shops in Mussaffah. They have always been reliable as we are their regular customers and they do not want to break the trust we have in them.
10. Use Loyalty Cards
All most all stores have their Loyalty card system. You could always make use of them and redeem their rewards whenever they are due. I always miss to take along those cards and luckily now most stores have their loyalty card coming as a Key chain. Now we out all those cards on our Key chain which is very much convenient for us without filling up our wallet which already has a large number of Cards!!
11. A few More Points
- Take your own water bottle: We always end up thirsty and buying water during our shopping. If you could carry a small handy bottle along in your bag, you wouldn’t have to buy those extra bottles (Plus you could save some plastic wastage)
- We all have those really busy lives out there. Many of ous tend to buy those pre-cut Veg and Fruit Salads. If you could spare a little more time you can cut them yourself at home. (Well, depends on how much time you could make yourself. Plus cutting them yourself ensures they are well washed and you know how fresh they are.)
- Go Paper Free in your Kitchen. Instead of wasting those paper towels in the kitchen, You can simply opt to using reusable rugs and clothes for kitchen purposes.
- Plan your meals in advance for a week and shop accordingly. This can also save you from last minute confusions and eat -outs. Stay Healthy 🙂
- Never cook your meals in excess. This is a practice I have started with recently. This not only prevents food wastage and money, but also saves me from eating more. In case you feel a little unsatisfied and hungry after a meal, you can always have some fruits handy to fill you up. That would be a healthier option too.
- Don’t go shopping when you are hungry. We tend to buy more items as well as snacks and eatables during shopping.
- Go shopping without kids if possible. For me its Far from reality. If you have someone to take care of kids at home, it would be a good idea to do the grocery shopping without them. In our case, one of us is always busy running behind our little prankster, while the other is busy filling up the shopping cart 🙂
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