Money & Me: Dubai sports events manager ensures pocket money goes three ways

Angus Russell is a sports events manager for Super Sports Academy in Dubai, which includes electronic timing and management of endurance races. Born and educated in the UK, the Briton, 47, has been an expatriate since the age of three. He has lived in the UAE for nine years and is married with two sons, ages 10 and 15.

Describe your financial journey so far.

I’ve been an expatriate all my life, so it’s how I am, as opposed to a lifestyle choice, and this reflects my financial journey. Every time you seem to get your feet under the table, something comes along and takes the chair from under you. Working in the industry that I do is quite volatile for an expat, and mine is usually one of the first expat positions to go in times of uncertainty. Added to this, I am often in a pre-opening or opening position, or doing consulting work, all of which increase the volatility. I suspect this is the root of my ethos of not spending unless you need to. Salt it away while you can, only spend what you absolutely have to and put the rest aside for a rainy day.


Are you a spender or saver?

Both. I don’t spend indiscriminately, but neither do I save to the exclusion of all else. I won’t buy something just because it’s the latest and greatest – in fact I have an aversion to funding manufacturers’ R&D by being an early adopter. For example, why buy a new car that will depreciate 30 per cent as soon as you drive it out of the dealership? Even if you intend to keep it for five to 10 years, you never know when you might have to sell it. I always buy a car that’s two to four years old; it makes far more sense financially.

What is your philosophy towards money?

Much as I hate to admit it, I believe that money does make the world go round. I wish it didn’t. I take pride in making things last, fixing stuff instead of throwing it away. This is another soapbox of mine, the fact that it is often cheaper to throw something away and replace it, than fix it. To me, that is wrong.

Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?

More than some, less than others. Hopefully I’ve learnt enough to pass on to my children so they can avoid at least some of them. I learnt early as an expatriate, always have a contingency plan and be ready to walk out in a matter of hours. Never borrow what you can’t repay. Always read the small print; there’s a reason it’s so small.

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

Spend some of it, but mostly on other people. Buy a few gifts, and then find a sensible direct investment for it. It’d be a useful boost to university fees; buying a small rental property in a university town should provide a nice return on investment, as well as provide accommodation for the kids once they are at uni.

Do you plan for the future?

To some extent. I take out insurance of various types, I pay into a pension and I make sure I keep myself fit. I try to teach my children what money is worth. For example, their pocket money (including money as gifts) is broken down into three parts. One part they get to spend now, one part goes into a savings account, and one part goes into family tax (eg to pay for family trips to the cinema or the water park). Now that my oldest is 15, he gets a monthly sum out of which he has to pay for his mobile, transport, cinema and mall trips. It’s amazing how quickly they learn the value of money.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

My family. Nothing beats the pleasure a good, well-thought gift gives to the receiver. It’s purely selfish of course, because of the pleasure that brings me. Other than that, I like a good gadget and good food.

ascott@thenational.ae

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