Money advice for Dubai women

We meet the city's 'wealth commentator' Janelle Malone

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Dubai is a city designed to make you want to spend money – and few people know that better than blogger Janelle Malone. A former retail employee, Malone is well versed in the tricks of the trade, such as the nuances of mall design and seemingly bargain offers that draw you into stores and encourage you to spend, spend, spend.

This summer, Malone launched her first money club event, exclusively for women. She drew on the skills she learned from her blog, called ‘Women, Money & Style’, where four female characters relay their experiences with money, spending and saving.

The idea of the club is to get more women interested in managing their finances, and taking advantage of the benefits of living in a country where they aren’t taxed on their earnings or savings. Today’s reality is that most of us are looking at a retirement age of 70, not 60, so if we want to retire earlier, we need to get smarter about saving – now.

Each money club participant gets a guide book with an introduction explaining what they’ll learn, including the benefits of saving and the power of compound interest – a tricky little scheme that could help to explain why your credit card bill is often so much larger than you expect. There are also sections to help you address your spending weaknesses, be it clothes, food shopping or socialising, and a section looking at where you can cut back and add to your savings instead, without leaving you feeling deprived.

Malone is quick to emphasise that people who earn less are better savers than those who are very wealthy, and her scheme is designed to assist even those on relatively low salaries. The key is to acquire a goal, which is where Malone’s ten-years-from-now line of questioning comes in.

When I meet Malone, she asks me about my own finances, from how much I earn, to how much I owe on credit cards, and if I have any loans. As I’m still in my twenties, she explains that by starting to save now, I’d be putting myself in a very good position, even if I have no idea exactly where I see myself in ten years – which I don’t. My only goal is to get on the property ladder before then. As I also don’t have a pension, Malone explains I should be thinking about that too.

This is where she recommends the three-tiered approach to saving. Tier one is a cash basket: a sum that you work towards having in your current account to tide you over if you’re made redundant or plan to take time out to have a baby. Tier two is a security basket, which protects you and your family in the event of a medical emergency, serious illness or death. Finally, tier three is your retirement basket: the savings plan that will allow you to maintain the lifestyle you want in later life.

When we look at my own finances, Malone calculates that once rent, bills, shopping, grooming, eating and socialising are all accounted for, I’m usually left with about Dhs1,100 in my bank account at the end of each month. To set myself up in a good position, I need to look at what changes I can make so that I end up with Dhs1,800 a month to put into a number of different moderate-risk investment savings schemes. After that, she suggests that I should also start working towards never having less than Dhs30,000 in my account.

It will take months to get there, but this would become my ‘tier one’ cash basket. I have a long way to go to get anywhere near my house deposit, but by making small savings each month, I will be an awful lot closer to my target in just five years. And with that in mind, I’ll certainly be looking at those sales with a different eye the next time I find myself in a mall.
To book a place at the next money club on Wednesday August 8 (Dhs350 per person) or to arrange a one-on-one consultation, contact Janelle Malone on Janelle@womenmoneyandstyle.com or visit
www.womenmoneyandstyle.com.

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