x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Money & Me: You have to take risks for a happier future

Leaving behind a long career as a PR in the travel industry, this Dubai-based food lover turned her passion into a business.

Samantha Wood says she often takes on PR projects to help fund FooDiva in its start-up phase. Edwina Cottino for The National
Samantha Wood says she often takes on PR projects to help fund FooDiva in its start-up phase. Edwina Cottino for The National

After working as a PR specialist in the travel industry for more than a decade , Samantha Wood quit her corporate communications job last year to follow her life's passion: food. The Dubai-based Ms Wood launched FooDiva, a website that offers impartial restaurant reviews, up-to-date news on the UAE food scene and recipes, in February.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I live within my means, while making the most of life. I work to live. There are phases in your life that you have to spend and other times to save. As I have recently set up a new business, which is all about eating out, I am in a spend phase at the moment. But I was only able to do so thanks to good saving over the past few years.

What did you receive your first paycheque for? And how did it feel?

A summer job while at school as a shop assistant for a clothing retailer. Collecting my first paycheque (and any subsequent paycheques for that matter!) is very liberating. As the years and jobs lead to financial independence, paycheques have become more and more empowering and have allowed me to lead the lifestyle I want, while also giving me the opportunity to set up my own business.

How would you describe your financial journey so far?

Aside from summer jobs at school and university, I started full-time employment as soon as I graduated from uni at 21 - working for different companies - and that's a long time ago! My parents had always instilled a sense of financial responsibility in me, so I like to think I have a good financial head. Last year, I decided to resign from my corporate communications role with a hotel chain - something I had been financially planning for a year. I travelled a little and then decided to set up my own business - a restaurant review website, FooDiva (http://foodiva.net), which I officially launched in February. At the same time, I take on PR/consultancy projects to help fund FooDiva and my lifestyle in its start-up phase. So far, so good.

Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?

Not so far. I realise I have taken a little bit of a gamble by leaving the financial security of the corporate world to set up my own business - but sometimes you have to take risks and follow your intuition for a happier future. This feels very right for me now and even though I am working 24/7, I am loving every minute of my life. Sometimes it's not all about money.

What is the most valuable financial lesson you've learnt?

Demonstrating ROI (return on investment) for every financial decision. And I avidly read case studies and best-practice success stories.

Do you believe in planning for the future?

To an extent, yes. Having a nest egg has allowed me the opportunity to do something I love and to launch FooDiva. But at the same time, to be flexible because an opportunity may come your way, so don't discount it simply because it doesn't fit into your current time line.

Is money important to you?

Yes, of course - and anyone who says money is not important is lying. However, it's certainly not the most important priority in my life. Health and happiness in what I do are far more significant.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

To not be reliant on anyone but yourself for financial security. It's very important to me that I always remain financially independent.

What's your philosophy regarding money?

Always monitor your expenditure against your income. Pay off your credit card every month. Avoid taking out loans - unless it's to offset tax. But don't let financial planning get you down - life's too short, so live it as best as you can.

What is more irritating: wasting time or wasting money?

Most definitely wasting time. This becomes even more paramount when you are running your own business. Life is far too short, so you have to make the most of every minute. Time can never be replaced, whereas money can.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

Food - mostly eating out for FooDiva, but on groceries, too.