x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Money & Me: For doctor, money is a scoreboard

Jeff Finnigan, the clinic director at the Atlas Spinal Centre in Dubai, says headaches and neck pain can hamper productivity.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES ? Sept 15: Dr Jeff Finnigan, Clinic Director at the Atlas Spinal Center in Healthcare City in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Personal Finance. Story by AlicJeff Finnigan, the clinic director at the Atlas Spinal Centre, says headaches and neck pain can hamper productivity. Pawan Singh / The National
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES ? Sept 15: Dr Jeff Finnigan, Clinic Director at the Atlas Spinal Center in Healthcare City in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Personal Finance. Story by AlicJeff Finnigan, the clinic director at the Atlas Spinal Centre, says headaches and neck pain can hamper productivity. Pawan Singh / The National

Dr Jeff Finnigan is the clinic director of Atlas Spinal Centre in Dubai Healthcare City, which offers non-surgical spinal therapy to treat spinal misalignment and relieve head and neck pain. The American, who moved to Dubai last month to open the new clinic, has been practising for more than 30 years and is the author of Life Beyond Headaches.

Describe your financial journey so far.

I've always been an entrepreneur and have never held a steady job where I worked for somebody else. I started my first business at 17, pressure washing mobile homes and petrol stations. Suddenly, money made more sense to me and had greater value because I was the one leaning into the wind and not taking money from my mother and father, not that they had a lot. My mother was a housewife and my father worked in the civil service for the US Navy. My second business involved painting people's houses and that was how I funded my professional schooling. I took government loans to some degree, but I wanted to pay back as little as possible, so I painted houses. I have since set up several clinics in the US because I wanted to be independent, set my own hours and if I failed, I wanted to fail on my own terms. If I succeeded - the same.

Are you a spender or a saver?

Definitely a saver because I'm married to a spender. To balance it out, I've always invested in municipal bonds to create a nest egg. I'd buy a US$10,000 (Dh36,731) bond when I had $7,000 in hand and the broker would give me a week to come up with the extra $3,000 to pay for it. My wife would then realise she could not go shopping, so our disposable income wasn't being flushed like the rest of America.

What is your philosophy towards money?

Money is an expression of your life energy. You give your time and efforts to somebody, are remunerated and your money demonstrates that you did something of value for somebody else. Money is a scoreboard in a way and something I want to protect.

How are you going to help the people of the UAE?

I am an atlas orthogonist and the atlas bone sits right under the skull. When the atlas is out of position it causes a variety of bodily symptoms including neck pain, headaches, dizziness and fatigue. In the early 80s, a friend had a patient who was a commodities and gas trader who came in for the typical head and neck problems. He came in for six visits, got good results and disappeared. He did this two more times until he came in and said: "Doc, is it possible that when my atlas is out of position I'm not as efficient?" The doctor agreed and the man determined that allowing his problem to become symptomatic hampered his ability to the point where it cost him $20,000 a month in lost deals. So my job is to realign the head and neck and by reconnecting the brainstem and the atlas, everything in the body functions better and you will be able to work more productively as well.

Why are people getting more headaches?

We are not set up to sit at a desk and have our bodies cantilevered over a desk for 12 hours a day; we're not physically designed to use the arm of the couch as a pillow while we watch TV for six hours and we're not built to be in a car collision. We need to be active and if you're not, you know what the consequences of that are.

Have you experienced any financial difficulties along the way?

Of course. Going through university was a challenge both mentally and financially and I came out of that in today's dollars probably $300,000 upside down. More recently, I bought two pieces of real estate in November 2007, while the roller coaster was at the apex and beginning to go on the down slide, and lost three quarters of that. It took me about three years to recover my losses, but during that period of time I would have added $500,000 or $1 million to my net worth. All I have done is go back to the zero point of when I first invested in that real estate.

What do you spend your money on?

Municipal bonds, but I do have a single-engine aircraft and a 1997 Porsche, which I call a garage queen because it doesn't get driven much and only has 30,000 miles on it. I won't be bringing those to Dubai, though. I also enjoy golf, which was another attraction of coming here.

Is money important to you?

Only because it creates opportunities and freedom. I don't necessarily have any great affinity for running my fingers through pieces of paper with American nobles and dead presidents' pictures on them, but the opportunity to do things that I want to do and help people - that's the juice for me.