Laura Buckwell is a TV news anchor at City7TV and an event MC. The 36-year-old, from the UK, moved to Dubai to become a business reporter after working in broadcasting for more than a decade in London, Sydney and Tokyo. Ms Buckwell is married to a Dutch entrepreneur and has a two-year-old son.
How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?
I grew up as a Royal Dutch Shell oil company expatriate kid, living in Malaysia, Nigeria and Holland until I was sent to boarding school at 11. Growing up, we had a very comfortable lifestyle. Life was full of activities and social gatherings with other expat families, and money was never talked about or brought up as an issue. As a family we always discussed what we would do when we grew up, so the focus was on career and experiences rather than cash. This has definitely instilled a culture of discretion in me when it comes to money. Living as a university student after boarding school was most certainly an eye-opener though, as it was the first time I properly earned extra spending money on a weekly basis. It was only through first-hand work experiences that I managed to get a proper grip on the value of money.
How much did you get paid for your first job?
I got my first job when I was a student as a waitress at a high-end pizza restaurant and was paid £4.50 (Dh23) an hour.
Are you spender or saver?
I’m a little of both, but more of a spender. Dubai is full of enticing activities such as food and retail that it can be hard to hold back. I wouldn’t say that I was extravagant, but I tend to spend on lots of small things that add up.
Most cherished purchase?
My most cherished purchase has got to be The Luxury World Key, which gives exclusive access to 12 five-star hotels and their facilities in Dubai, including the kids’ clubs. We decided to splash out, as the card means we can enjoy many days out as a family, including sports and discounts on food and beverages. The Key also offers a 24-hour concierge service from booking holidays and party planning, to finding the nearest entertainment for kids. We paid Dh20,000 for a couple plus kids for a year.
Have you ever had a month where you feared you could you not pay the bills?
It was my first year as a new tenant in London, fresh out of university and the first time paying rent. I shared a house with two friends in Clapham and there were many times that I feared I couldn’t pay the bills but I somehow managed. It was a good learning curve. My job at the time was as a runner on big-budget TV entertainment shows at Endemol and the BBC, which came with a basic salary.
What has been your best investment
Our family car, which is a Hummer. It’s like being inside a tank and nothing beats the feeling of being safe on the roads here in Dubai, especially with kids.
What do you most regret spending money on?
I’m ashamed to say that I was a smoker for years. I gave up three years ago when I became pregnant with my son. So the biggest regret has to be all the money I’ve spent on cigarettes. I started smoking at the age of 18, and that’s 15 years of smoking half a packet (on average) a day. In the UK at the time they were the equivalent of about Dh35 a pack. You do the maths.
Do you have a plan for the future?
My husband is an entrepreneur and his line of work doesn’t come with any monthly guarantees. One month can be a huge income injection while the next three could be very basic, so as a family we need to plan quite carefully. My husband is very clever when it comes to investments though, and we have property in Holland to fall back on. My husband also has amazing ideas on what will make money in the long term, whereas I’m the one that thinks more about saving in the short term.
If you won Dh1m, what would you do with it?
My son’s education, stocks and shares, property and travel.
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