Friday, 15 June 2018

Money Diary: A 30 Year Old British Girl In Dubai, In June

Since giving up news (a story for another day), my sole internet reading is Refinery 29's Money Diaries series. I hope they never stop publishing them. I've shared a few of mine in the past and, my goodness, has life changed since I penned my first Dubai money diary.

Here's what a week of spending looks like these days, in short - I now earn less, work fewer hours, have a boyfriend and have a (small but carefully curated) Dubai friendship group. Getting happy has reduced my impulse shopping, my spending on make-up (which I barely wear these days) and my thirst for gin - all of which my bank balance is grateful for.

Here's a week in June, during Ramadan and the hot, hot Dubai summer. All prices converted to GBP.


9am: taxi to work. £3.04

12.30pm: Uber from my office to a cafe near the World Trade Centre. I have a half day off in lieu for working at a few evening events recently. Having more time is worth far more to me than extra $$$ in the bank after years of cancelling social plans and sleep in favour of work. I have an Uber discount code because I take a lot of Ubers... £2.31

1pm: lunch at The Sum of Us - the restaurant is open during the day during Ramadan but the doors are closed and the entrance is screened off. I order a vegan coffee smoothie, a cauliflower rice bowl and write some blog posts on my ancient MacBook. £21.71

4.30pm: Uber home. £7.05

5.45pm: Uber to my boyfriend's place - it's a ten minute walk but the great outdoors feels like an oven so walking isn't happening until September. £4.05

6pm: stay in for the evening making cocktails and popcorn.


7.55am: taxi to work. £3.04

8.05am: iced soy latte from office coffee shop. £3.24

12.30pm: lunch with my team and a colleague who is on maternity leave and her baby. We go to TGI Friday's as the financial district ins't very baby friendly. The menu is mostly deep-fried - I order a so-so salmon salad and a side of fries. A colleague treats.

4.30pm: vegan protein balls from office coffee shop. £2.34

5.05pm: Uber home from work. £6.28

6pm: vinyasa flow yoga class - I paid for a six month unlimited membership at the start of April (£963 - fitness is pricey here) so effectively free in this week's budget.


10.15am: advanced vinyasa flow class - I love the smaller class size and the chance to try some crazy things. Effectively free.

11.30am: pop in to Spinneys (a supermarket which sells own brand and Waitrose food) and buy almond milk, loo paper, frozen blueberries, fresh strawberries and a single-serve back of granola to make a Bali-inspired smoothie bowl. £19.51

1pm: back to the yoga studio (its effectively in my building) for a guided meditation class.

2.45pm: Uber to the mall where I practice looking at things without buying them. £4.07

4pm: dentist appointment - my dentist is in the mall and is about as pleasant as going to the dentist can ever be. It's a follow-up appointment to no charge.

4.45pm: walk home from the mall (the ten minute walk nearly cooks me alive) and pick up an iced green tea and a halloumi bagel from Caribou. £9.98

6.50pm: Uber to my boyfriend's place. £4.07


Blissful day of not going outside and not spending any money. Make avocado and halloumi toast for breakfast and order Wagamama on Deliveroo for dinner (the "rule" is that whoever's place we are at pays).


8.20am: Uber to work. £4.07

10.35am: iced soy latte from office coffee shop - this week I seem to have forgotten that I now know how to use the office coffee machine. £4.07

12.30pm: lunch from a cafe offering a free glass mason jar with an order - can't resist and order avocado on sourdough. £9.89

6.30pm: take an Uber to an Iftar (the meal to break the fast during Ramadan) hosted by a women's network which I am a member of. £7.17

7.10pm: Iftar at a newly opened hotel in the Al Seef district. The Iftar is free but I have a yearly membership of the network (£135 paid a few months back).

9.10pm: catch an Uber home with a fellow attendee who happens to live two minutes from me - her Uber looks to be turning up first so I cancel mine.


6.40am: Uber to physio appointment before work. £8.03

7am: I have mild scoliosis and have just started physio in an attempt to strengthen my back muscles - it's covered by my medical insurance so while I pay £100.77, I'll get reimbursed.

7.50am: Uber to work. £8.48

8.20am: another coffee. £4.07

12.30pm: order lunch from a discounted delivery service which offers a daily choice from two restaurants - today its a vegan superfood salad. £5.07

5.35pm: Uber to mall after work. £5.27

6pm: waxing appointment (every five weeks). The salon I go to has a loyalty points scheme so I cash mine in to get a discount. £37.73 (usual price £49.66)

6.50pm: I spot a new Japanese store in the mall - Miniso. Somewhat guilty fill a basket with flip-flops, a glass water bottle and three Japanese skincare products. Reason that the glass water bottle will help to save the world. £18.59

7.15pm: walk past Pret and end up going inside for a taste of "home", stare at the fridge for ages and settle for a falafel flatbread and a sparkling water. £8.14


6.30am: sunrise yoga class on my membership.

7.55am: Uber to work. £5.79

12.10pm: order lunch from the same cafe as Monday - avocado on toast with a side salad. £9.89

4.30pm: vegan protein balls. £2.34

7.30pm: walk across the road (so humid bleugh) to the Ritz-Carlton for a colleague's leaving drinks. Sneak a G&T onto the bar tab they've set up. My boyfriend joins us. Have two more G&Ts and pass up on free oysters (#Dubai). Boyfriend settles the tab for the drinks we've had - we take it in turns to pay for things so make a mental note to pay for drinks or brunch during the Eid weekend (a long weekend to celebrate the end of Ramadan).

9.25pm: taxi home because its far past my bedtime. Eat a square of dark chocolate in lieu of dinner. £4.07

The damage: £231.12

Over £100 less than my last Dubai week... My budgeting has been a little less strict since getting back from Bali but I'm working on that elusive balance between respecting and not wasting money but also not being hard on myself if I do want a daily coffee or to pick up something not 100% essential. The current weather also takes some blame for the 16 taxi trips taken...

Do you keep track of your spending?


  1. Love these posts. But JESUS how much for yoga???
    That said, if I had to pay for running...

  2. I think you have taken more uber journeys in a week than I have ever!
    I do think I need to track my spending a bit more but I am now trying to minimise the little bits here and there (contactless meant I felt it was OK to spend a few pounds here and there which add up like crazy).

  3. Love these!! I just wrote my first one this week to go up next week and I'm very similar to you in cost - though I think mine is London transport rather than uber! x

  4. I literally can't believe Uber's are so cheap in Dubai!!


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