x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Money&Me: Husband's death forces widow to learn financial ropes

Hatty Pedder moved to the UAE 17 years ago. Now with two children, her husband lost his battle with cancer eight months ago, leaving her to handle the family's finances for the first time.

Hatty Pedder says the death of her husband meant she had to rethink her financial priorities to support their children. Jaime Puebla / The National
Hatty Pedder says the death of her husband meant she had to rethink her financial priorities to support their children. Jaime Puebla / The National

Hatty Pedder is a Dubai-based illustrator and photographer who moved to the UAE 17 years ago with her husband and daughter, Poppy, who was just 18 months old at the time. Now with two children, her husband lost his battle with cancer eight months ago, leaving her to handle the family's finances for the first time.

Describe your financial journey so far.

I have to confess that I was not very good with finances in the past and used to leave everything to my husband. When you are young and live a good life supported by a great husband, you don't really think about finances. At least I didn't. But losing my husband to cancer last year forced me to take responsibility for our finances and it's certainly been a challenging and, at times, deeply stressful journey. In the beginning, I didn't know when I would be able to pay the rent or my daughter's school fees. I have had to learn about finances quickly, to prioritise "must dos" and "must haves" and look long and hard at what we didn't truly need. I feel today fully empowered by my decisions and I know my husband would be very proud of me. Standing up to the challenge of being a young widow with a teenager and a young child has been incredibly rewarding for me.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I don't think it is about one or the other now. It is about practising moderation. Was I a spender? Oh, yes! Am I proud of it? Looking back, maybe not, but I had a lot of fun enjoying what life had on offer. Was I responsible towards money? I never gave it a second thought. Have I had to learn fast? Absolutely!

What do you enjoy spending money on?

My change in circumstance has also brought with it a change in priorities and focus. I spend a lot less on frivolous things now. I have always believed in the concept of tithing and I continue to do this as a priority. And while I might not spend what I used to, I do still love the odd pair of fabulous shoes.

What's your philosophy regarding money?

Live life modestly, give 10 per cent (or more) of your earnings to charity and work hard. And have faith that the universe will take care of you when you do good and move your feet.

How hard is it to make a living out of being an illustrator and artist?

I have been involved in my industry for a long time, but only recently had to fully support my family, so have really had to dive in. I am now represented by Magnet as an illustrator and The Studio as a photographer. Being a freelancer means actively working out how to position my work and approaching potential clients directly - something that can be quite challenging. Today's attitude of art and lifestyle merging together combined with a growing love for all things bespoke, has created much more of a demand for illustration and personalised unique products.

What has been your biggest financial challenge?

The biggest challenge for me was when my husband died during a financial crisis. The girls and I were left with very little and I had to rise to the challenge of supporting my family and girls very quickly. We were very fortunate that we had an amazing network of friends and supporters who came to help and to hold us through this period. I am in awe of how people just want to be of service to others when things go not quite as planned. My young daughter's school principal and teachers helped us immediately on all levels and this brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.

What has been your most valuable financial lesson?

Taking responsibility for our money - a lesson I have not really had any choice about learning, but am grateful for nevertheless. It is empowering to know exactly how much money we have, what our expenses are and what I need to earn. I have a much better understanding, which has helped me gain confidence in all spheres of my life.

Do you believe in planning for the future?

I live my life now by a simple rule: "You harvest what you plant." The seeds I am planting are of love, kindness, prosperity, abundance, success and friendship. I want to teach my girls this, too. We are truly responsible for what we create.