x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Managing finances with style

Janelle Malone, the Dubai-based publisher of the website Women, Money and Style, talks about her financial journey and why it is important for women to take control of their finances.

Janelle Malone says planning for the future is vital because it gives you more choices, such as allowing you to set up a business. Jaime Puebla / The National
Janelle Malone says planning for the future is vital because it gives you more choices, such as allowing you to set up a business. Jaime Puebla / The National

Janelle Malone is the Dubai-based publisher of a website and blog called Women, Money and Style (www.womenmoneyandstyle.com). The Australian, who arrived in the UAE nearly five years ago to work on the Yas Mall development, says the next decade will be fuelled by the 'She-conomy' - but it is important for women to protect their financial futures and become money wise.

How would you describe your financial journey so far?

For many years, I considered myself financially savvy. I bought a property at 21, which in many respects set me up. I then moved to the UAE and started to develop a taste for the nicer things in life. That was perfectly fine as I had a career, which fuelled these tastes. Then I met my husband and together we had a son - an experience that gave me a new appreciation for the true cost of life.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I have learnt that limited thinking leads to having less, while reckless spending can cause major problems in your life. I pay myself first, meaning that our saving takes priority each month. After that, we calculate the amount that can be spent on luxuries. It may mean that I have to wait until the following month to get my perfect pair of shoes or something for my son. But in the end, I would rather have peace of mind over a purchase.

What's your philosophy regarding money?

In my 20s, one of my first boyfriends taught me a lot about property and the importance of regular savings. Then in my 30s, I enjoyed the freedom and independence that comes with a decent wage and a career that can show you the world. Now as a mother and wife, managing money is about teamwork. Emotionally and financially, there's no point in me walking around in Dior shoes if my son can't enjoy his childhood. So today, I am learning how to balance my money and family life, wealth creation and the biggie - self-protection.

What concerns you about women and money?

This next financial decade will be fuelled by women, which many experts now refer to as the "She-conomy". While this news is flattering, the reality is that we have to be smart and money-wise. There will be someone around every turn targeting us for a piece of our money pie. Many career women are so busy making money for their employers that they fail to look after themselves and their own financial plans.

Is this what prompted you to launch Women, Money and Style?

Yes. For some reason, the life changes I experienced brought about a real desire to put them into words. Perhaps it was the hormones after the birth of my son, but it led me to a whole new way of thinking and the launch of Women, Money and Style.

Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?

Mistakes, no. But lessons, yes. I have learnt many financial lessons, mainly in the business side of finance. I think that anyone considering going into business needs to know their market and craft. But that alone is not enough. All the elements need to be in place to get paid. Otherwise, you'll be out of business very quickly.

Do you believe in planning for the future?

Absolutely. Planning for the future has opened up a world of choice for me - the choice not to take a job that I didn't want; the choice to take time out and create my own new business, learn some lessons and have a go again. I believe that anyone who plans for the future achieves his or her goals so much quicker.

Is money important to you?

Money is money. Having money is not as important as the experiences in life that it has enabled me to experience or the places that I have been able to visit. Money is a currency for exchange and when you view it as that, it becomes a lot easier to give and receive.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

The day I truly felt financially free was when I realised that if anything happened to my husband, I would be OK financially. But it's more than just that. If I had to narrow it down, financial freedom to me is about working at a job that I enjoy. It's about having time to spend with my family and it's about feeling safe and secure. Most of all, it's about enjoying and celebrating what I choose to spend my money on, rather than feeling guilty about what I buy.