Money & Me: Dubai restaurateur invests in daughter’s future

Cedric Touissant, the director of operations for Coya Middle East, puts aside at least 35 per cent of his pay cheque a month – 25 per cent in savings accounts and 10 per cent in property and the stock market.

Cedric Touissant puts aside at least 35 per cent of his paycheque every month. Courtesy Coya Middle East
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Cedric Toussaint is director of operations for Coya Middle East, a Peruvian restaurant based at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, where he oversees 120 Coya Dubai employees. Born in Paris, he previously lived in London as well as in Col­ombia where he was head chef for the French ambassador. Mr Touissant, 38, now lives in Jumeirah Village Triangle with his wife and 18-month-old daughter.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I came from a humble background and my parents raised me to understand that money doesn’t make people happy. Going through the perpetual journey of finding what you love and being able to do it and earn money from that is the real reward. Once you believe in what you do, you must work very hard at it.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

I was 15 when I got my first paid job during the summer as a kitchen trainee in Neufchatel in the Alps. My main responsibility was making doughnuts and I was paid €50 (Dh206) a week, including accommodation. The experience was priceless.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I try to be as much of a saver as possible and am wise with spending. Each month, I try to put aside at least 35 per cent of my paycheque. I put down 25 per cent in various savings accounts and try to invest 10 per cent in property and the stock market. Becoming a father moti­vated me more to invest in my daughter’s future.

What is your most cherished purchase?

I don’t find myself attached to material possessions much. Family, relationships and ­human bonds mean more to me. However, I do treasure my Rolex Submariner for sentimental reasons. It is a present that I bought myself on my 35th birthday, and the first time I really splurged on something.

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

Yes, after living in a one-bedroom flat in Dubai for three years, I moved to a four-bedroom villa to accommodate my expanding family. It was hard on my budget, with many unexpected expenses. I learnt to budget more efficiently and found a suitable alternative that still accommodated mine and my family’s needs.

Where do you save your money?

I spread my savings across various investments and savings accounts. I invest in property and am blessed with great advisers in dabbling in the stock market. I have three savings accounts. My first is for general savings and will be my pension, the second is for my daughter’s savings and the third is emergency savings.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

For purchases, dining out or any new day-to-day expenses, I prefer to be paid by credit card as I am incentivised by the travel mileage. As I had already set an amount aside for expenses, I settle this at the end of the month.

What has been your best investment?

My flat in London. I bought it in 2006 and at the time I was living there and only had to pay a 5 per cent down payment. The flat has doubled in value.

What do you most regret spending money on?

I honestly have no regrets as I don’t impulsively buy things.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Start saving younger; anyone should be able to save at least 10-20 per cent of their salary. It hurts at first but it becomes like second nature.

Do you have a plan for the future?

I am looking at investing in Dubai, however prices are still too volatile. I may invest in a family property, at a later stage, in France.

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

Invest half of it in Dubai property and try to invest in a new business venture. If I get more flexibility with money and time, I will learn a new skill like sailing.

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