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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Money & Me: Nursing company founder got early lessons in prudence

The entrepreneur Yasmine Torkamani educates her children on the importance of money management. Her 12-year-old son has an Emirates NBD account and gets paid Dh20 to wash his mother's car.
Yasmine Torkamani likes to teach her children the value of money. Antonie Robertson / The National
Yasmine Torkamani likes to teach her children the value of money. Antonie Robertson / The National

Yasmine Torkamani is the founder and chief executive of Sublime Home Healthcare Centre, an at-home nursing service licensed by the Dubai Health Authority providing post-operative, palliative, maternity and elderly care. The Australian, 47, has been living in the UAE for 13 years and is married with two children. Ms Torkamani has a master’s degree in biological science and a doctorate in medicinal chemistry

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

My mum used to keep my pocket money every week, effectively as my bank teller. I had to ask for money for things, and she would tell me the balance. So I learnt to save from a very young age for the things that I wanted to buy. Back in the ‘80s, life was different, with no internet or gadgets – things kids take for granted these days.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

I worked at the city library in Wollongong City, south of Sydney, when I was 18. I earned A$5 (Dh13.87) an hour organising the shelves and returning the books.

Are you a spender or saver?

I’m more of a saver. I would like to teach my children that money doesn’t grow on trees. I started paying my three-year-old son Dh1 for every time he made his bed and now, at 12, he gets Dh20 to wash my car. He has an Emirates NBD account – he wants to buy his first car when he turns 18. I am trying to establish the same routine with my eight-year-old daughter.

What is your most cherished purchase?

In 2010 we travelled to Oub­ood, the art capital of Bali, and bought four paintings by a very young Balinese artist called Smarra. The one I love the most is an illustration of a lady sitting on a bench with her cat, which is in our TV room. I paid Dh3,000 for it. Smarra has become famous globally for how he portrays hard-working women in his art.

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

In 1989, when I was studying in Sydney for my bachelor’s degree. I was working part-time, studying full-time and paying for my tuition fees. I had three different jobs. On Monday and Wednesday I worked as a library assistant, on Tuesdays and Thursdays as a sales assistant in a news agency and, on the weekends, as a waitress in a local cafe.

Where do you save?

We save both locally, in real estate, and internationally, in corporate bonds in Europe. Around 30-40 per cent of our total earnings go into saving.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

We pay for everything by credit card. My husband and I travel for work regularly and like to collect Skywards points from our credit card, which we use for upgrades on long-haul flights.

What has been your best financial investment?

The 10,000-square-foot house we bought in Jumeirah Islands in Dubai in 2005 – the price has increased by 150 per cent from the Dh4 million we paid.

What do you most regret spending money on?

I have never been in this situation as I always think and research extensively before making a money move. I do not ever take any risks with money.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Enjoy your life fully but only take calculated risks.

Do you have a financial plan for the future?

We set up trust fund accounts for both our children to use when they turn 21.

What would you raid your savings account for?

Around 15 per cent of our savings is in a locked account. I have promised myself I will always have a certain amount that will never be touched. If in tough times a life is somehow threatened, that’s when I would raid that account.

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