Money and me: Spend early in life, then save

Working as an oil broker in the past has helped the Dubai entrepreneur Tobias Young switch from being a spender to a saver thanks to some wise investment choices.
Tobias Young is the chief executive of in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
Tobias Young is the chief executive of in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

Tobias Young is the chief executive of, a company he set up earlier this year as an advisory service for tenants. Before starting his property business, Mr Young, 36, a Briton who moved to Dubai in 2009, was an oil broker in London and Dubai.

Describe your financial journey so far.

Having been a student it took me a number of years to pay off the debt accrued. Once that was out of the way I felt a sense of relief and was able to enjoy my life a little more. As I grew within my past roles, so the salary grew too. This helped in numerous ways. One of the advantages of getting paid better was moving up the property ladder, or at least the rental ladder in Dubai. In fact, it was the trouble I had with a series of landlords that led me to start my own property advisory company. This was mainly to do with rent hikes – there are rules in place to protect the tenant and lots of times the tenants aren’t aware of these rules because up-to-date information is hard to find.

Are you a spender or saver?

I used to be a spender. After all, when you are young there is a certain naiveté about having money in your hand. This has naturally changed over the years. I started my saving just keeping money in my bank account, but lately I’ve moved to a structured saving plan across a number of asset classes. Working in the investment industry has helped me to read the financial press a bit more intelligently. So I try to keep up with what’s going on in terms of making investment choices.

What is your philosophy towards money?

I think this can now be summed up in one quote from Mr Micawber in David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (adapted for my purposes): Annual income Dh20,000, expenditure Dh19,000, result happiness. Annual income Dh20,000, expenditure Dh21,000, result misery.

Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?

I am sure I have, though none that are glaringly obvious now. When planning long-term, the financial mistakes we make are less obvious in the short term. Naturally it is easier to see mistakes as opportunities not taken, of which there are too many to name. I invested in a number of tech companies in 2000 that sadly no longer exist. The mistake was believing in the product, which turned out to be flimsy.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?

I would probably save half (I did say I had changed), but spend the rest (I’ve not changed that much).

What has been your best investment?

Over the years I have been heavily involved in the equities and precious metals markets. Both enabled me to turn a small nest egg into something slightly larger. I would like to claim responsibility for the investment decisions, but I chose certain funds instead. The money that was there has since been used for a deposit on an apartment. My best investment is that I bought a small property in London years ago, but that was more luck than judgment. Over the past few years property in London has only moved, but that may change. I bought the property to live in and then having moved to Dubai realised it was better to keep it as a long-term investment instead of cashing in.

Do you plan for the future?

I think I have reached the age where I need to. Governments no longer provide enough for people in their retirement. It is something you need to start thinking about from an early age. As time goes by, the retirement age in a number of countries is getting pushed further and further back.

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Published: December 19, 2014 04:00 AM


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