Carole Holditch is the founder of Good Habits, a weight-loss programme that encourages people to lead healthier lifestyles. Originally from the UK, Carole set up the company in 1997 and has since counselled thousands of men and women in their quest to shed the infamous "Dubai Stone".
Are you a spender or a saver?
I spend a little and save a lot, which is something I was taught by my family when I was growing up. There wasn't a lot of money around and my two sisters and I received less pocket money than our friends. We understood from an early age that if you wanted something, you had to save to get it.
How would you describe your financial journey so far?
I've never been given anything, so everything I've earned has been through my hard work. I started working at the age of 14 in a toy shop and have always had a job of some sort since then. After school, I joined the hotel and catering industry. I was working long hours for little money, but with customers spending 40 times my hourly wage on a beverage, I saw how much money was out there. I moved into the corporate side of things before relocating to Dubai with my husband in 1996 and later setting up Good Habits.
Why did you set up your own business?
I came here to be a wife and look after my three-year-old daughter, Katy, who is now 18. It was the first time I wasn't working and I hated not having my own money. I felt I had to be careful with what I spent because it wasn't mine. As well as having financial independence, my biggest motivation to set up a business was boredom because I was basically a Jumeirah Jane, which was hard for someone who's always worked and enjoyed it.
What's been your biggest financial challenge so far?
When my daughter was six, my husband and I divorced and he left the country, so I had to find the means to support my daughter and myself if I wanted to stay. It was difficult because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with Katy and the business meant long hours. But money became about survival and even though my husband paid maintenance for Katy, I had to pay all my costs and a year's rent up front. I managed because I am a saver - that's what got me through it and to where I am today.
What is the most valuable financial lesson you've learnt?
Don't trust financial advisers. I have not met a single ethical financial adviser since I've been here. I don't think they consider what your needs are and it's often just about selling the product that will secure the biggest commission. I've lost huge amounts of money as a result of listening to their advice.
Has your attitude to money changed since launching your own business?
Because my business has gone from strength to strength and I've now got other people working for me, I don't physically have to do as much. So, if I need to take time off I can, because I am still earning money. It means I can relax a bit more.
Do you think managing money is similar to managing weight?
The number one thing for both is planning. Weight doesn't just fall off and money doesn't just fall into your pocket. You've got to think how it's going to happen, who's going to support you and where to get the right advice.
Do you believe in planning for the future?
One hundred per cent, yes. My daughter is at university in the UK now and will be dependent on me for another two years and you never know what might happen. Because Katy does not live with me anymore, I have more time for my business.
Is money important to you?
Money is not everything, but it does help. When I was younger, other people's wealth definitely motivated me. That doesn't mean I wanted to be a millionaire, but I wanted to have enough money so that I could always do the things I wanted to do and have choices in life.
What is your idea of financial freedom?
Not having to work without compromising your lifestyle. My dream is to buy a house by the sea, but where I don't know. I already have two properties in the UK and that's been the best thing I ever did because the income from that more than pays the mortgage.
What do you still have to learn about money?
How to save less and spend more, but I'm not going to do that until I'm only responsible for myself.
What financial advice have you given your daughter?
I've told her to start saving 10 per cent of all money that comes to her - advice I wish I'd been given at 18. But I'm very proud of Katy. She's got herself a part-time job at university working 20 hours a week, which has helped her understand the value of money.
What do you enjoy spending money on?
Travel - it's the one thing I won't scrimp on. Obviously, I still try to find the best deal, but I've always had a holiday every year no matter how bad things are because I think it's important to get away and I think you learn so much through travel.