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Phil Stevens says having worked several low-paid jobs in the past gives him a mental grounding and appreciation for money. Jake Badger for The National
Phil Stevens says having worked several low-paid jobs in the past gives him a mental grounding and appreciation for money. Jake Badger for The National

A family man's lessons pay off

Money and me: Phil Stevens, an energy lawyer, tells of how working in menial jobs during his youth, taught him the value of money.

Phil Stevens is an energy lawyer at an international law firm. He tells of how working in menial jobs, such as delivering newspapers and serving hot dogs at Chelsea Football Club's stadium in London during his youth, gave him an appreciation for the value of money. Now he feels he can finally enjoy the fruits of the lessons learnt in the UAE.

 

How would you describe your financial journey so far?

Turbulent. Being a student and incurring the levels of debt we're all asked to isn't the best way to start your adult life. After I went to university I worked in a series of low-paid or unpaid jobs and moved to various different countries, and found it difficult to establish any basis for savings. I'd like to think that the turbulent journey has come to some point of stability.

 

Are you a spender or a saver?

Both, actually. That's the luxury of being in the UAE - you're not necessarily forced into making uncomfortable financial decisions. I can set aside an amount per month as savings and I don't feel that undermines my spending power. I wouldn't see it as either/or, though if I had to pick one or the other I'd pick a saver.

 

What is your philosophy regarding money?

The first thing, and an important point, is to realise the worth of money. There are some people who are so accustomed to having a lot of money that they forget its importance and forget what it's like not to have any. Having had a background in low-paid menial jobs gives you a certain grounding and appreciation for the value of money. I worked at the hot dog stand at Stamford Bridge. One person put onions on to the hot dogs before another person put on the ketchup. It was division of labour at its best. But I'm very open to taking risks and I think that I'm quite drawn to the idea that one must speculate to accumulate.

 

Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?

As a student, there were a series of financial decisions that perhaps on reflection weren't the best. But it was a constant flow of reckless spending, not one big decision.

 

Do you believe in planning for the future?

Absolutely, and I think that here in the UAE we have a fantastic opportunity to acquire a lot of money in a relatively short space of time. It's important that we use that. Most of us aren't going to be here for ever and it's important that we use the time wisely.

 

Is money important to you?

Yes, but it's not the be all and end all.

 

What do you enjoy spending money on?

I just bought a new car, a red Chevrolet Camaro. But I also like looking after my family - it's nice to be able to take them out for dinner or buy them presents. They've done enough for me.

 

ghunter@thenational.ae

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