x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

No luxuries, no credit, no problem

Money & me Marketing executive Bansrelal Goshichand doesn't take much pleasure in owning things, he would rather invest in gold or property.

Bansrelal Goshichand once bought a Dh800 shirt. He still wears the garment but regrets the purchase so much that he rarely wears it.
Bansrelal Goshichand once bought a Dh800 shirt. He still wears the garment but regrets the purchase so much that he rarely wears it.

My family was originally from Afghanistan, and my father migrated to Dubai in 1969. He felt that a war was going to happen between Russia and Afghanistan, so he decided it was time to leave. I have a passport from Afghanistan, but I have never been to the country. I was born and raised in Dubai, so I think of the emirate as my home. My father started his business with one textile shop in Deira, then it expanded, and the family started to grow. I was my parents' fourth child, and was born in 1982. I have five brothers. My dad is 58 years old and my mum is 62.

The textile business was booming at that time, back in the 1970s, and we were well off; my father made a lot of money. He's a self-made man and now has six shops. Life in Dubai in those days was cheap. It was also quite simple - things were not as advanced. Dubai was not just about money, and the boom had not begun. It wasn't important whether you had a Porsche or wore fancy clothes; most people I knew were more inspired by getting a good education.

In 2000 I went to the University of Wollongong in Australia, where I did my bachelor's degree in commerce and marketing. That was the first time I had been abroad. It was quite a change for me, and because it was such a developed and advanced country it changed my life. My father paid for my education with the aim that I would join the family business. But Australia is such an open-minded country, and living there taught me to be independent. The cost of my schooling was about A$35,000 (Dh117,690). Living in Australia was really expensive, so I had to spend my money wisely. For example, a can of coke costs Dh1 here, and it was Dh4 in Australia; other items were similar, in that they were a lot more expensive than they were in Dubai.

When I graduated, in 2004, I came back to Dubai, and my father forced me to go into his business. I worked with him for one month, and then I told him that I wanted do something different and start my own career - just as he had done. So I took a job as an administrative assistant with an interior design company to prove myself. That was a breakthrough for me, even though the salary was just Dh3,000 a month.

After six months there I progressed to a marketing job for a shipping company. Then I worked for the Chalhoub Group of Companies, as a project coordinator, for almost three years. I joined Jones Lang Lasalle last year as a marketing representative, just as the property market was crashing. I live a very simple life; I don't spend a lot of money on extravagant items, and I have never even had a credit card.

There are 17 people in my household. Three of my brothers are married, and among them they have six children. We all - my brothers, my father and I - pitch in on the household expenses, and it's cheaper that way. It also means that I can put as much as Dh8,000 straight into my savings account each month. I've been saving for six years this way; once the UK rejected my visa because they said I had too much money in my account and they couldn't understand why. I applied again recently for a UK visa, and this time it went through. I explained that I had been saving money for the past six years.

Next year I'm going to start to invest, mostly in gold and property. I believe that gold is a safer investment; at the end of the day, you can always sell gold, but you might not be able to sell your property. Working in the real estate environment, I am confident that prices are going to drop further. So next year I want to buy in Dubai, in the Downtown area or The Greens. It all depends on which area has stabilised. I'll then rent the property out.

My father will likely support me in this endeavour; he'll lend me the money and I'll pay him interest, rather than paying a bank. I'm realistic about money. There are times when you need it, but there are times when you don't, and I'm always careful about how I spend it. After paying for the basic necessities of life - such as utilities, food, housing and internet ? I save the remaining amount, so in times of need I can be secure. The one luxurious item I bought recently was a Paul Smith shirt, which cost me Dh800. It took me three months to decide whether I should buy it or not. Do I really need it? I loved the shirt - the brand, the quality of the material, but after I bought it the pleasure lasted 48 hours.

I barely wear that shirt anymore. I look at it now and it's just an ordinary shirt. I spent the money because I had it in my pocket. It's the brand power. I could have bought eight shirts with that amount of money. There are many people here who have gone back to their home countries and have debt problems. This happened because of poor judgement. You need to be very wise with your money. When you spend it on luxurious goods you need to make smart decisions. I would rather be safe than sorry; if you can't afford to pay for something, you shouldn't buy it. When I buy a property next year I will ask a financial analyst to advise me. If it's not a safe investment, I'll wait. There's too much money involved.

I'm thinking of spending about Dh500,000 on the property. I can see that some people in Dubai are obsessed with cars or clothes. At the end of the day, this is too materialistic. These things will come and go, but life will not come and go. Life comes only once; it does not come back again. Yes, money is one of the tools that makes the world move, but there are other more important factors in your life - such as family.

* As told to Rebecca Bundhun rbundhun@thenational.ae