Money & Me: Abu Dhabi doctor shuns temptation of luxury

Anselma Ferrao, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, is the medical director of Brightport Royal Women’s Hospital in Abu Dhabi. From India, Dr Ferrao is married to a neonatologist at Corniche Hospital Abu Dhabi and the couple have a grown-up son.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I come from a rather well-to-do family and never had any financial difficulties in childhood. My father paid for my education. Choosing to become a doctor was a career decision, rather than a decision about money. I wanted to work in a hospital – I like medicine, I like working with patients. I never thought about finances, and didn’t think about starting my own business or my own hospital chain.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

It was my internship in Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, India. You don’t get paid much, it was around 600 rupees per month – you’re supposed to learn. It’s a stipend. I was living at home with my parents, so this was extra pocket money to me because I didn’t have to pay for housing or clothes or food. So I was comfortable.

Are you a spender or saver?

I save about 80 to 90 per cent of my money, but that’s because I don’t pay for my household expenses. I get my housing and expenses through my husband. I spend whatever I need to, but don’t go after luxury goods or aim to have a luxury car. I want a comfortable life, but I wouldn’t take a loan to buy things that are not necessary. Whenever I go on holiday, however, I do spend.

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

No. I got married as a student; my father and my in-law’s family were both, not extremely rich, but reasonably well to-do. I never had financial problems, there was always someone there to support me.

Where do you save your money?

My husband and I have a financial consultant, and he advises us on how to save. We meet him once a month to discuss which stock market is doing well as we invest in stocks and bonds.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

By credit card, because it saves the trouble of carrying money around, but I always pay 100 per cent of my outstanding balance each month. I don’t owe any money to the bank, don’t have any debts and have given standing instructions to the bank to clear my balance every month.

What has been your best investment?

A property we bought in Bangalore. We bought land, with the aim of building a house on it. Then the developer decided to build a series of apartment blocks on top of it instead, which was very good, because we earned money from four houses built on it instead of just one. We got lucky – not every developer decides to increase the size of their project like that.

What do you most regret spending money on?

Kitchen gadgets – you buy them and then they don’t work as they should and they end up in the cupboard. Sometimes we buy clothes that look good in the shop – but then we never get around to wear them. But those are things that happen to everybody. I have no major regrets. Some amount of money is meant to be wasted on small things.

Do you have a plan for the future?

We have made financial investments to give us, once we retire, enough to maintain the same standard of living as we have now. We have also taken out insurance plans. As long as you are working, you have health insurance from your employer. But as you get older, that’s when you get sick – you start to get chronic and critical illnesses. That is a good investment – to have a good health insurance plan. I also plan to travel more.

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

I’d go on more holidays, but I wouldn’t give up my job. However, I don’t think I’d win Dh1 million. I’m not a lucky person. I once bought a ticket in the Dubai Duty Free because somebody encouraged me to buy one. I didn’t win.

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