Money and Me: Spend until 30, save after that says Creneau Middle East boss

Dutch executive Dirk van de Haar reevaluated his tendency to spend rather than save when he turned 30 two years ago.
Dirk van de Haar spent his 20s buying things and memories, but then got disciplined about saving at 30. Lee Hoagland / The National
Dirk van de Haar spent his 20s buying things and memories, but then got disciplined about saving at 30. Lee Hoagland / The National

Dirk van de Haar is the managing director of Creneau Middle East, an international design and fit-out company. The Dutchman, 32, who started his career in the hospitality industry, moved to the UAE seven years ago.

Describe your financial journey so far.

My financial journey started at a very young age. I have been working since I was 14, which was quite early in comparison to my peers at that age. I had money to spend and I was very good in my spending habits, always thinking carefully and calculating what was worth the cost of how many hours of work it took to earn my savings. Over the last couple of years I have become more aware that putting thought into saving for the future at an early age is extremely important, so in the last two years I have changed my habits from spending to saving.

Are you a spender or saver?

I have been a spender my entire life, but as soon as I turned 30 I sat down and re-evaluated my spending and saving habits. When I was 21 I said to myself that I will live my life to the fullest and spend my hard-earned money on things and experiences that I enjoy and will create memories until I am 30 and post this will start saving and looking into the future. Luckily this has worked out well for me thus far.

What is your philosophy towards money?

How much we earn, what we do with it, how much we save, our spending habits, individual views and preferences on investing money in different areas are all important elements related to money and each individual has a different viewpoint on these things. I firmly believe that the decisions we make can prove to be a game-changer in our lives in the long run. I’m not saying that a lot of money makes you happier, a lot of people have a lot of money but don’t always make the best decision to use or invest it. I feel it is a vital tool that helps you in different aspects of your life, for now and for the future. We all work very hard for the money we earn, hence to make smart decisions about this hard- earned money is key.

Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?

I wouldn’t say mistake, but perhaps a little lack of awareness. Today when I look back I feel as though I maybe should have saved a little bit when I was younger. That being said, my experiences and life journey are what I value most, so when I look back I am thankful.

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

I’ve always been interested in real estate in Dubai, so I would definitely look into the property market and seek professional advice to ensure a stable and sound investment.

What has been your best investment?

Our apartment in Amsterdam, most definitely. Owning property in the country I am from and always having a reason to visit home.

Do you plan for the future?

Now that I have started to plan ahead, yes. My plan is to stay in Dubai for a long time and enjoy the tax-free benefits. In the near future I’m hoping I will be able to invest in real estate either in Dubai or in Europe so that home can serve as my pension.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

Being in the food and beverage industry for so long it goes without saying that eating out, trying new places, cuisines and restaurants is my passion by default. I love going for dinner and drinks, there are new places opening in this region almost every day. I’m also a fan of weekend getaways, there are some amazing hotels in Dubai and other emirates that have beautiful rooms, views and facilities that serve as a perfect mini staycation, hence I also spend a lot to go to nice hotels.

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Published: December 12, 2014 04:00 AM


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