Money & Me: ‘Coffins don’t have pockets’

Self-proclaimed spender Mustafa Masood does not believe in saving money. Instead he prefers investments that have a purpose.
Mustafa Masood believes one should start working for themselves when young instead of applying for jobs. Victor Besa for The National
Mustafa Masood believes one should start working for themselves when young instead of applying for jobs. Victor Besa for The National

Mustafa Masood is a financial controller and director at oil and gas firm Petrofac. The 32-year-old, from Pakistan, says he does not consider himself an accountant, but “a magician of the numbers”. Mr Masood, who moved to Dubai in 2009, has worked for major banks, insurance companies and mutual funds in countries such as Pakistan, the Cayman Islands and the UAE. He is also the father of a five-year-old daughter.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

My father worked in a government organisation and we lived in a very small town in Pakistan. He gave us a very good education and a sense of budgeting, planning, responsibility and organisation. In my family I am a bit of a spoilt brat as I somehow have a careless attitude towards money and financial management. My wife needs to take over this responsibility soon, because she can control me and my strange desire to spend and travel. I think, “don’t stop spending, but increase your earnings” – only this way you will have a push to earn more and progress.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

I joined an audit firm in 2001 and was paid US$15 for my first month of work. But $10 of that fell out of my pocket. I only had $5 for the entire month for food and transport. Thank God it was Pakistan, if this situation was in Dubai, I’d spend $5 on a single meal.

Are you a spender or saver?

I’ve never seen a coffin with pockets in it, therefore I believe in living life to the fullest and spending, but in a useful and reasonable way. For my children, I want to give them a good education and sense of culture, religion and business rather than lots of money with no dir­ection. I love to travel and buy stuff such as gold, clothes and outings. If I save, it has to be for an investment – I don’t want to save without any purpose.

Have you ever had a month when you feared you could not pay the bills?

There have been some months. I sensed that bad times were coming beforehand though and managed some small loans or other alternatives. I don’t want to go to jail due to my own financial mismanagement. I wouldn’t want to hear that I am managing my company’s financials well, but not my own.

Where do you save?

I have a savings account but I’d have to check if it has any savings in it. In Dubai it is difficult. Every year, I say from this year, I will start saving, but then the next year comes. However, I have a firm plan to invest soon, as I don’t believe in savings, I believe in investments.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

I generally don’t keep cash with me, except to have tea at my favourite place after work. They only accept cash. Otherwise I use a credit card to earn benefits such as points, air miles etc.

What has been your best investment?

In Pakistan, I invested money in the stock market, and I enjoyed it and earned a lot in stock trading, but now I have stopped trading there.

What do you most regret spending money on?

When I came to Dubai I was mesmerised by investment opportunities and wanted to earn money overnight like many do. I met someone promoting “timeshare” investments. I purchased my share of a room in a hotel in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. Then, I realised I should forget this money. At the time of the sale, the staff in this company was so friendly and nice, but afterwards I was never able to get a refund or sell out. I lost all my money.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Invest and start working for yourself instead of applying for jobs. At a young age it’s very easy to take risks, learn and progress. At my age when you have family and lots of responsibilities, your heart becomes a bit old to try new stuff. I dream about governments making it mandatory for all fresh graduates to start their own business – either part time or full-time. This would create an environment of creativity and invention everywhere.

Do you have a plan for the future?

I plan to invest in gold and real estate – safe and reliable long-term investments.

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

I would gift a home, car and jewellery to my wife and go on a long (at least one month) holiday with her. I would also start a small business for her.

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Published: March 3, 2017 04:00 AM


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