21 days to change a habit…

Not too long ago …ooh about 21 days ago I stood up and confirmed, like I was at SA (Spending Anonymous), that I love spending money but I hoped this would change. If it takes 21 days to change a habit then I think I am officially fixed 😊

For a very long time I have tracked every penny incoming and outgoing from my bank account, I’m my bank’s most active customer logging in on a daily basis …sometimes twice, heck sometimes thrice! Since we’ve been in Dubai I have been keeping a spending tracker (I know, how exciting) but moving to a different country, my husband still getting paid in the UK, me not getting paid at all, a property rented out in the UK and a food shop costing three times as much as home means we are currently in a bit of a transition period.

Rewind to 21+ days ago and I could often be heard saying the following:

  1. I’ve wanted this for ages, and now it has 20% off, I must buy it …and one in every colour available (aka the Power-Buy, my husband taught me about this years ago!)
  2. I need this for …the house …the gym …my wardrobe …my sweet-tooth …my make-up bag …to make my whole entire life complete and fulfilled
  3. I deserve a treat because …I’ve had a hard week …its nearly my birthday …its nearly Christmas …its nearly Tuesday
  4. Next pay day is nearly upon us and I haven’t yet spent all of last months!!
  5. All of the above

I also loved online sale shopping, I must have countless online baskets overflowing with jeans and tops and shoes and well researched life-changing face creams with huge discounts and offers piled on top just waiting patiently* for me to return.

*not all so patiently, every time check my emails there is a new subject line “Kimberley, you forgot something” “Kimberley, come back and we’ll give you free delivery” marketing-geniuses!

Back to today, they say it takes 21 days to break a habit and today is our 22nd day in post so let’s take a look at the results:

Last 21 days in the UK vs First 21 days in Dubai

Take-out / sit-in coffee

UK: 2-3 visits per week, husband and I like a visit to a coffee shop, despite having a very fancy Nespresso machine at home. That said, it became a bit of a hobby …rather than going to the pub or a bar we would go for coffee. At £2.80 (ish) for a flat white or a cappuccino not the most expensive hobby but £5.60 for us a few times a week amounts to approx. £875 a year! £875 is the price of return flights DXB-LHR for a visit home for the weekend, certainly puts that flat white into perspective.

DXB: It’s too hot for coffee out here and 2-3 times MORE expensive than back home, which to me just isn’t worth it for a coffee. Iced coffee? Just as expensive if not more, I’ve seen some the equivalent of £7 …that’s £14 for the two of us. But we love iced coffee so make our own; 4 teaspoons of coffee, 4 sweeteners, 1 litre of hot water chilled overnight in the fridge, add milk and serve! Delicious and costs just pennies …or FILS.

Clothes / cosmetics

UK: Oh goodness I used “E) all of the above” for the last few weeks in the UK; flip flops, tan wedges to replace some old ones, Calvin Klein pyjamas that I had to have, Biba pyjamas that were discounted 30%, a denim dress full price at £75 but its denim and natural material so good for hot weather, a light pink t-shirt with a ‘happy days’ slogan on still full price at £35 but I wanted to treat myself as I’d had a good day, litres of Clinique 3-step toner, exfoliator, moisturiser in case it was more expensive in Dubai, Marc Jacobs Daisy Kiss (beautiful scent!) and some new Tom Ford for Dan as we were running low. Bikini’s bikini’s bikini’s.  

DXB: Zilch, zero, nada! I would feel very uncomfortable spending money on clothes and make up and perfume when a) my suitcases were bulging with the stuff and b) I’m not yet working and earning (although a lady I met at brunch thought I was mad and said she’d be at the Mall every day spending her husband’s money).

I never thought I’d say this but the Malls here are SO big, they are just TOO big, overwhelmingly gigantic. I’ve been the Dubai Mall once and I can’t face going back until I’m desperate for something, whatever happened to a few shops and restaurants under one roof (Centre MK I love ya!), over here the Malls are a family day out with cinemas and rollercoasters and aquariums, Mall of the Emirates even has a ski slope and penguins …just too much!

Things for the house

UK: We kept nearly all of our wedding gifts boxed up to come to Dubai with us but we just had to buy some additions to make our new house a home… luxurious 600 count Egyptian cotton bedsheets, hi-ball drinking tumblers, new champagne flutes …and red and white wine glasses to match of course, are all currently winging their way to us in our shipping container of goodies!

DXB: To date we’ve spent £90 in Ikea on some non-essentials; placemats, lampshades, candles to make our hotel-like apartment start to feel a little homelier. I think my husband would agree it was a small price to pay to dry my homesick tears.


UK: I bought Personal Trainer sessions in the run up to our move out here, which I loved and was worth every penny …but other than the gym my hobbies were limited.

DXB: Last weekend we went Stand-up Paddle-boarding which was SO much fun! Out on the calm warm water at Jumeriah beach paddling around catching the sun was definitely something I would do again, but once we are past the heat of summer, it was 10am and too hot to be outside!

Once we have a car (and the weather cools down) we would like to join a local running club and I’m desperate to do some horse-riding! Until then we have a fantastic FREE gym in the apartment complex …which is lucky as gyms out here are expensive, no £15.99 contract-less deals around in this town. Even the smaller more basic gyms are well over £100 a month …and that doesn’t actually buy you the “beach body”!

Dinners & Drinks

UK: The last 21 days in country may not be a fair reflection as our social calendars were buzzing, we were out for dinner 2-3 times per week seeing and saying goodbye/see you later to our friends and family. I like eating out and I like ordering in and whilst both compliment an evening with friends, food plated up or boxed up are good for neither the waist line or purse strings!

DXB: So far we’ve only been out for dinner during our first week before we had done a food shop, and whilst the food was good since then we have eaten at home, my husband is a pretty good cook and we have something pretty life changing in our new apartment A DISHWASHER! Wow, its changed our whole evenings, we use all the pots and pans and just chuck them into the magic cleaning box. Honestly, I hope to never live anywhere without a dishwasher ever again. We decided yesterday that we need to go out more, Groupon and the Entertainer are huge out here for discounts and 2for1 deals so we’ll sign up for both and see where we end up on date night.


Full disclosure: my circumstances changed massively whilst I attempted to change my spending habit, if I was still at home and earning this may never have happened but feels a good place to start once I do finally start working. Maybe my spending will be a little less than it was before, hopefully I’ve broken the habit.

And I can proudly say, that 42nd pair of jeans has definitely not been purchased or even added to my online basket.

What do you love spending money on?

What are your top tips for saving?

Any habits you would like to change?

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