Located on the southwestern coast of the Persian Gulf is the Kingdom of Bahrain, a small Arab state with a land area only slightly bigger than that of Singapore. Its name comes from the term al-bahrayn, which means means “two seas.”
Unlike its oil-rich neighbours, Bahrain only has small stores of petroleum. Nevertheless, the Kingdom has thrived on processing the crude oil from nearby countries, and was able to establish active financial, commercial, and communications industries. For this reason, many expats, including thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), have decided to live and work in Bahrain.
How to Save Money as an Expat in Bahrain
Historically, the Kingdom of Bahrain is believed to be the site of Dilmun, an ancient civilization. Over the centuries, it has been occupied by different groups. Since the late 18th century, however, it has been ruled by the Khalifa family, which opened the Kingdom’s ports to the naval fleets of other countries. Today, Bahrain is a modern country with a rich cultural heritage, and is also known as a popular destination among tourists in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region.
Of course, if you are an expat who is currently living and working in Bahrain, you are most likely looking for ways to save money, so that you can minimize your expenses and allocate more for savings and remittances. Hence, we have put together the following tips on how you can better manage your finances:
#1. Jot down your expenses.
Using a small notebook or app on your mobile phone, jot down all your expenses, including food, transportation, bills… everything! This way, you can keep track of where your money goes every week, every month, and even each year. The simple act of writing down your expenses allows you to reflect and make adjustments to your weekly and monthly budgets. It enables you to cut down on unnecessary spending, so that you can focus on more important things.
#2 . Pay yourself first.
Instead of saving only what’s left of your budget after spending, why not pay yourself first and consider this as a “regular” expense? Simply allocate around 10 percent (or higher, if possible) to a separate passbook account or to an automatic savings account. This way, you can build your emergency fund — and eventually your savings — slowly but surely! After all, you never know when you’re going to need some extra money!
#3. Save money at home.
Did you know that there are many ways on how you can save money at home? For instance, switching to emergency efficient light bulbs can reduce your electric bills. Similarly, installing an aerator on your water faucets and dual flush buttons on your toilets can help reduce water wastage. Of course, practical things like switching off your electrical appliances when not in use and turning off the water faucet while brushing your teeth can also go a long way toward saving on bills.
#4. Buy groceries in bulk.
This tip applies not only in Bahrain, but other countries as well. When you buy in bulk, you can save on having to take multiple trips to the grocery store. Besides, things like soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, and toilet paper can be stored for a long time. Likewise, bulk-buying rice, flour, beans, and other food that you eat regularly is also a practical move. If you live on your own, consider bulk-buying with your neighbours, so that all of you can save more money!
#5. Prepare your own lunch.
While it seems easier and more convenient to eat out or order takeaway during lunch, it is also more expensive! Why not prepare your own lunch instead? You can easily make sandwiches at home. Another option is to prepare a huge meal during the weekend, freeze them in individual portions, and re-heat in the morning or right before lunch. Easy, right?!
#6. Eat out less; dine at home more.
In addition to making your own lunch, consider eating out less and dining at home more. Not only will you be able save a lot of money (on restaurant bills), you’ll get to improve your cooking skills, too! Besides, don’t you think it’s more rewarding when people appreciate and enjoy your home-cooked specialties? What’s more, you can also control how much salt and seasonings go into your food… resulting in healthier, more personalized meals!
#7. Hail taxis from the street instead of calling them.
Take note that when you call for a taxi, there’s an additional fee. So as much as possible, hail a taxi from the street instead. If you are traveling from a hotel, consider checking out and hailing a taxi from the street, as calling them from the hotel grounds could cost extra as well.
#8. Rent a car instead of joining a tour.
Unless you don’t drive, consider renting a car instead of joining an organized tour when sightseeing around Bahrain. Renting a car is much cheaper; plus, you can take your time enjoying the sights instead of having to adjust to a strict itinerary.
#9. Borrow books instead of buying them.
If you’re a book lover, you don’t have to spend much on buying books. Just head to the Bahrain National Library and enjoy their wide selection of literature for a minimal fee. From time to time, the library also holds free exhibits and movie screenings, not to mention free Internet and telescopes for stargazing. Pretty cool, huh!
#10. Visit Bahrain’s national sites.
There are plenty of national sites (i.e. museums, cultural destinations) around Bahrain that tourists can visit for free or a nominal fee. These include Arad Fort, the Bahrain International Circuit, and the famous Tree of Life. Indeed, it doesn’t take much to enjoy these attractions!
Keeping a budget, saving money at home, eating out less, and borrowing books — these are just some of the things you can do to save money as an expat in Bahrain. Not only are these activities economical; they can help you develop practical skills that could benefit you in the long run. And speaking of saving money, check out this list of free things to do in Bahrain!