Money & Me: British expat in Abu Dhabi rescued by Mustang Sally

Jacqueline Wood is an Abu Dhabi-based Briton who operates the popular Facebook community page Abu Dhabi Women’s Group (ADWG) and a business, Antique & Vintage Jewellery. Born in southeast England, she left to travel the world for a year in 1992 and never moved back. She and her husband relocated to the Middle East in 1998 after 14 years in Hong Kong. She started ADWG with just 14 ladies at a coffee morning. It has since grown to a Facebook page with more than 14,000, predominantly female, members. Ms Wood, 51, lives in Khalifa City.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

We did not have a lot of spare money when I was growing up, so I learnt to value what I had, plus to save for what I wanted and for my future. Most of my wages from a Saturday supermarket job I had from the age of 16 went into a building society account, along with birthday money.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

I worked for an insurance brokers as a technical accountant in the City of London in 1983 and was paid £3,000 (Dh14,549) per year. I worked off leather- bound ledgers in eight currencies, before everything was computerised.

Are you spender or saver?

A bit of both, to be honest. I try hard to be the latter, but sometimes you just have to indulge.

What is your most cherished purchase?

A pair of stunning emerald and diamond earrings I had made in the UAE. It followed the sale of the family house after the death of my mother. I may no longer have the house, but I have memories and the earrings.

Have you ever had a month where you feared you could you not pay the bills?

No, but I came close. It was a heavy bills month and almost not enough money scenario. It was over 25 years ago.

Where do you save your money?

In bonds and stocks and in a couple of investment properties in the UK. Also a consolidated UK pension, which is invested, although I am not sure this one will do me a lot of good. I invested my pension through a company that cold-called me. They took quite a chunk of my initial deposit for their fees, so I’m not sure how much I’ll get back when it matures.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

Cash. You know exactly where you are with cash. If there is cash in your purse you can buy it; if not, you cannot. That way you do not get horrible surprises with credit card bills at the end of the month. I have only a debit card.

What has been your best investment?

A short-term loan to a UK recycling centre company seeking to expand. I lent them a sizeable amount alongside many other investors for which we were paid interest at 9 per cent for the full year of the loan. It was the recommendation of a financial adviser we have used for the last five-plus years.

What do you most regret spending money on and how much was it?

An old second-hand car in the US when I was travelling. It cost three of us US$600, plus insurance. We got all of 90 miles before it died at the side of the interstate from New York to Cape Cod. We were rescued by a police patrol and towing company as far as the local garage where we re-sold the lemon and hitched a ride to Boston with a fabulous lady in a Mustang.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Plan better. It would enable us to travel more and have more experiences of the world we live in.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?

Invest most of it. But I would buy myself and my husband a present we had always wanted but deemed too extravagant. For my husband, it would be a luxury watch that he’s had his eye on; for myself I’d source and buy some precious gemstones and make myself a very elegant piece of jewellery.

What would you raid your savings account for?

Emergency medical expenses.

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