For years now, I’ve always wanted to write something like this. It’s a subject that is close to my heart (something that deals with research, economics, properties, family, and the likes). But for so many conflicting reasons, I’m always getting inclined with flood blogs or staycation features… and these subjects were always put on hold.
But this season, I wanted to start something that I have procrastinated for quite some time. As a #daddyblogger, I also wanted to present a different point of view on subjects that really matters to every family… and to every expat professionals, in general.
Imagine paying a 2 bedroom flat in Doha worth QR5,000? That’s already a cost of paying your own brand new 2-BR condo in any of Manila’s premier commercial districts like Makati or Bonifacio Global City. What about the school expenses for a kindergarten student worth approximately QR13,000/year including tuition fee and transportation? That is almost four times the tuition fee of a regular college student in UST Faculty of Arts and Letters (my university).
While there are many factors to consider in analyzing this cost disparity, we just have to remind ourselves that it was also the very reason why we decided to work abroad – in order to earn four times or more than what we earn back home.
In this feature article, our premise is to find ways to lower our expenses by trying to breakdown its components. While we will not go into details of presenting individual product prices, we will somehow present ideas on how we will be able to save more.
Our approach shouldn’t be to spend based on how much is the present market price, but on how much is our actual budget – thus, taking it on a “different perspective”. What should dictate our expenses should be our available budget in order to avoid resorting to overspending or borrowing money in case of fund shortage.
Let’s check the TOP 5 Expenses of every expat here in Qatar and see how we can save (even a little) on these items:
In the Philippines, financial institutions like banks and Pag-Ibig Fund use the 30-35% credit ratio as a standard pre-qualification in approving a loan application. This simply means that a home buyer will only be allowed to spend a maximum of 30-35% of his monthly income for loan repayment or monthly amortization. Example: A home amortization of P3,333/month will only be allowed/approved for a borrower having a salary of Php10,000/month.
What we are saying here is that it is not rational to pay more for a flat or room that you will never own in the end. And if our gauge for paying monthly amortization for our own home is this much (30-35%), then we might as well use the same budget for our temporary accommodation here, or even less.
With this in mind, we can start by checking if we are spending this much in our present rental fees versus our monthly/family income. Therefore, a combined family income of QR10,000 for example, should only shell out a rental expense not exceeding QR3,000 to QR3,500/month.
And given also that our premise isn’t only to find ways to lower our expenses but to change our mindset, then we can consider several suggestions such as:
- Consider the house location – the farther the distance, the inexpensive the cost (but also consider that cheaper rent may add up to the transportation expenses).
- Don’t go overboard with your rental expenses and consider properties that are just right for our budget, even if it entails a bit of sacrifice (like walking few meters every day or a little inconvenience in space and mobility).
Here are some of the useful links when searching for homes around Qatar:
Especially to those who have children here in Qatar wherein school fees are not part of their salary package, the cost of education usually eats up a big part of their family income.
Here are some suggestions that families may also consider depending on their situation:
- If funds are available, paying in full will usually save you discounts instead of paying monthly or quarterly. Depends on your capacity, paying in advance will also keep you from incurring delays and mental stress due to other emergency expenses.
- Check on ways to cut other expenses like moving in closer to the school to save cost on school transportation for your kids, or using old textbooks from previous batches, and purchasing a school uniform that’s a bit larger than the actual size so it can be used for one more than one year.
While the cost of education here is fixed and there’s no way we can reduce it further, we can somehow find ways to save on other items: tutorial expenses, new school supplies, etc. This even creates more concern for families who are sending more than one student to school. So, necessary adjustments must really be done to save on this category.
Here are some of the schools available for Filipino families in Qatar:
FOOD, GROCERIES and HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
This also constitutes a big part of our expenses, especially as an effect of the gulf crisis in basic commodities that are usually being imported outside Qatar.
Following are some of the basic commodities and their prices:
2 kilos of rice: QR7 (Lulu White Rice); QR16.25 (Sunwhite Calrose Rice)
Eggs: QR18 (Al Waha Eggs Medium 30pcs); QR22.75 (Al Zain White Eggs Large 30pcs)
Cooking oil: QR17.5 (Coroli Sunflower Oil 1.8Litre); QR21 (Mazola Corn Oil 1.8Litre)
Bottled Drinking Water: QR5.5 (Lulu 6 x 1.5Litre); QR8 (Arwa 6 x 1.5Litre)
Frozen Chicken: QR11.5 (Perdix 900g); QR13.25 (Sadia 900g)
Note that these prices are as of this writing, based on LULU HYPERMARKET Online Grocery.
How to save on FOOD, GROCERIES and HOUSEHOLD ITEMS:
- Check your stocks and make a list of priorities.
- Buy in bulk or packs but only buy what you can consume within a short period of time.
- Watch out for promotions and use membership cards for freebies (Have you used some restaurant apps that actually gives you free stuff? If not, try it now!)
- Get creative with the food you prepare and know how to recycle, reuse, and reduce items in the kitchen.
- Stick within the budget. Put a glass container on top of your fridge or in a cabinet of your kitchen and place your monthly budget visible enough to know if there’s still left on it (monthly expenses including daily BAKALA orders). When the container gets emptied, it means that you just have to consume what’s inside the fridge until the next salary.
In a country where mode of transportation is slowly getting more and more convenient with the opening of the DOHA METRO, the cost of transportation and people’s mobility is expected to get better in the years ahead.
And with the advent of ride-sharing apps, including the public transportation company that’s operating around the country, commuters are presented with more economical options to go around the city.
Uber – also available in downloadable apps
Careem – also available in downloadable apps
Karwa – also available in downloadable apps
Doha Metro – also available in downloadable apps
PERSONAL CARE and other RECREATIONAL COSTS
This is where we can save more or we can be more creative in order to lessen the impact on our budget.
This includes medical care, clothing, weekend trips to the mall or restaurants, vacation plans, and other personal care expenses like salon, gym, and other personal gadgets. This is now a vague category that we can easily eliminate when budget is limited. But as always, our idea is to spend within the limit of our set budget… not on what we want to buy.
Here are some of the ways we can effectively allocate funds for these items:
- Watch out for ongoing promotions for clothes and other apparels.
- For airline/hotel prices, book early or cross-check direct rates from airlines and hotels. For seasoned travelers, they always make their schedules flexible according to the prices (don’t travel on peak seasons and make a ready budget for upcoming ticket sales).
- For gadgets, consider trading an old gadget in exchange for a new one or selling the old models to buy the latest equipment (use online platforms to sell pre-loved items).
- Not many may be very familiar or critical about this but by becoming members of privilege clubs, loyalty programs in banks and hotels, and many others that will give you loads of benefits and exciting privileges (like free travel using miles, room upgrades, extra luggage allowance, and many other freebies). Keep a record of it.
- Use discount apps to save you on your dining and recreation activities. Have you tried free apps like Haveez.com and Q-Grabs? They are totally free and you can get amazing discounts on selected items (food and services). These apps work like a deal grabber, reloadable money wallet which allows you to purchase an item at a discounted price and pay it online or cash to Haveez or Qgrab office.
This is not a sponsored post and all products and services mentioned in this article are provided with the sole purpose of giving unbiased and realistic options and information.
Do you know of other ways on how to save on some of our basic necessities here in Qatar? Please feel free to comment down below. Let’s keep it positive and insightful for all our readers.