Money and me: It all adds up with mum as personal financial adviser
Ashwin Gedam is the vice president of global marketing for Xpress Money, one of the largest remittance networks in the industry. The 42-year-old from India, who moved to Dubai a year ago, grew up with an entrepreneur as a father and a mother who managed the family savings.
Describe your financial journey so far.
I realised early on that money had to be managed well. I come from the great Indian middle class and saw my dad open his own business when he could have easily laid back on his job, which he had been holding for 23 years. Even then I knew that he was working very hard to balance his role as the sole provider for the family and as a business owner who needed cash flow. My parents sent me to a private engineering college in the early 1990s when it was extremely expensive, so when I decided to pursue an MBA I tried not to burden them with my postgraduate education fees. Between my engineering degree and the MBA, I had a job and used that money to pay for my MBA. My mum was my personal financial adviser; she told me to put away money from my salary as savings. The real consciousness of managing money came when I joined a financial services organisation. I consciously started building up my investment portfolio to invest in mutual funds, to buy a house, to get adequate insurance to cover my loans and liabilities. I started planning for my year ahead and how much I needed to invest.
Are you a spender or a saver?
Actually, I am a bit of both but I think of myself more as a manager because I try to balance my savings and my spend. Every January for the last 10 years I’ve worked out my entire budget for the year depending on my inflows and what I would like to invest in. Just as I manage my marketing budget for the year for my organisation, I do the same with my own money.
What is your philosophy towards money?
Money is a great enabler, which allows me to provide every possible comfort for my family, setting aside something for the future. I would not think of myself as a penny pincher, but I do believe that every kind of saving is important and I also believe that money needs to planned and tracked.
Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?
Yes, I have made a few but thankfully nothing major. When I got my first job, I got myself a credit card and took cash advances against my card. After a while, I realised that credit card cash advances were expensive in terms of the interest that you pay. That was one mistake I made very early on but I wised up.
If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?
I bought a house back in India and my biggest worry is paying off that loan. I know that I will be able to pay it off over a period of time but if I win this kind of money the first thing I would do is pay off the mortgage and have a loan-free life.
What has been your best investment?
My mutual fund portfolio that I have been holding for the past 11 or 12 years and have been investing in regularly. I held on to it even through the tough recession times of 2008 and 2009 when it actually depreciated and wasn’t giving me returns. Today I am at a level where it is actually giving me fantastic returns and I am extremely proud of that. I researched the funds myself and invested myself.
What do you enjoy spending your money on?
I have two daughters. One is nine and one is three and I enjoy pampering them. They are actually not very demanding. They enjoy the simple things in life like reading so I buy them a lot of books. As a parent, I also like to take them to a lot of countries.
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Published: December 5, 2014 04:00 AM