Getting out of debt is fast becoming a national passion, with UAE residents acknowledging a debt-free life in 2012 as their top resolution, according to a poll conducted by Emirates 24|7.
Whether its mortgage, personal, car or debt on credit cards, majority of people in the UAE (44 per cent) believe that a clean personal balance sheet will help them breathe easy in the New Year.
“With a lot of bad news floating around I really want to get out of debt. I’m trying my best to prepay my loans. This is a difficult thing to do but I seriously want to live up to my resolution this year. I have to make a determined effort to cut back some of my debt this year - I have to start somewhere,” said a respondent.
“I want to get out of debt but this is very difficult as I never have a big amount to pay it off and the banks are giving much better deals now. I just topped my personal loan for a vacation and to do my house,” said another respondent.
The figures released by the Central Bank of the UAE shows that personal loans have increased in the country. In December of 2009 the amount given out as personal loans stood at Dh237.9 billion and in November 2011, this amount stood at Dh253.7 billion.
Real estate mortgage loans stood at Dh28280 million in December 2006. In September 2011, this figure has gone up to Dh160130 million.
Ironically, even as most residents want to get out of debt only a minority (4 per cent) want to get money conscious by flying budget and eating at food courts.
According to the popular Oprah debt diet plan by celebrity Oprah Winfrey, one of the ways to get out of debt is stop spending. “The quickest way to get yourself back on the right path is to stop spending,” she says. Writing checks and paying cash as opposed to credit lines reduces debt burden. She advises not to run up bills that can't be paid in full at the end of the month. Paying credit card bills on time to avoid late fees and making no more than one ATM visit a week can go a long way, she prescribes in her plan.
M.R. Raghu, Senior Vice-President-Research at KuwaitFinancial Centre (Markaz) believes there are four simple and practical ways toreduce debt.
“Eliminating or reducing debt is like reducing weight. Most desirable but most of the times impossible. I would advise the following. [Firstly], augment your income through additional means (you can coach your neighbours' kids in the evenings or freelance for magazines). [Secondly], try and negotiate with banks for restructuring your debt (reducing the interest or extending the term). Most of the institutional borrowers did exactly this during the last three years. [Thirdly], reduce operational expenses to free up cash for quicker repayment and [lastly] remember how hard it is to eliminate the debt the next time you borrow,” he told this website.
After financial health, next on the priority list of the residents in the country is getting their personal health in order. The poll results show that 24 per cent of respondents want to shed extra weight.
Besides health, some respondents (14 per cent) said they want to spend more time with family and friends this year and an equal number of people said they want to enjoy life more after having worked too hard in the past.