Alefiyah Johar is a partner at Fakhree Al Hindi Group, a family business and a supplier of fashion jewellery, cosmetics, saffron, oud and oils in the UAE.
The Indian, 33, is the managing director of the group's cosmetics and skincare division, which is the exclusive distributor of four Korean cosmetic brands, and also develops FC Beauty, an in-house brand.
Under her leadership, these brands have now become available in more than 200 stores across the Middle East, including major retailers such as Watsons and Namshi.
Ms Johar was born and raised in the UAE and lives in Deira, Dubai, with her husband, who manages the company's oud, attar and saffron division.
What is your monthly salary?
I earn a comfortable five figures per month, roughly in the range of Dh10,000 to Dh20,000 ($2,733 to $5,445), providing a stable financial cushion.
My salary varies because it includes commissions and profit sharing, but is an average of Dh15,000 during most months.
What is your net worth? In what asset classes have you invested in?
My net worth stands at more than Dh200,000. I have split my investments equally between gold and properties in India. So, I have Dh100,000 invested in gold and an equal amount in properties in India.
How much of that is debt?
I’m proud to say that I carry no debt whatsoever, providing peace of mind as I navigate my financial journey.
We don’t believe in the concept of interest, according to our religious norms.
Have you ever inherited a sum of money or other assets?
I was fortunate to receive an apartment in Mumbai, India, as a wedding gift from my parents. It was a generous gesture that holds sentimental value beyond measure.
The property has been rented out now and it’s worth approximately 25 million Indian rupees ($300,419).
Were you taught financial literacy as a child?
My financial education began at the age of 10, when my father started investing in stocks and shares in my name, providing me with around Dh500 to Dh1,000 per month as profits, emphasising the importance of savings.
During weekends, I would go to his shop to see how the business operates and sit at the cashier counter.
I’d entrust this money to my mum for safekeeping and, together, we’d either invest it in gold or hand it back to my dad for reinvestment.
I do the same now – whenever I have spare cash, I invest it in some assets.
What are your monthly expenses?
On a monthly basis, my expenses typically range from Dh10,000 to Dh15,000. House rent and utilities account for a big chunk of my monthly expenses.
Eating out, socialising with friends and travelling also account for other monthly expenses.
I also allocate 10 per cent to 20 per cent of my salary every month towards zakat and supporting charities or causes, like helping flood victims or sponsoring children’s education. The amount is never constant, it depends on what issue is at hand and I try my best to help out.
Is it more difficult to budget your salary with the rising cost of living?
I try to save at least 10 per cent to 20 per cent of my monthly salary. I try to withdraw this amount and keep it aside in an envelope, but it might get used up. I don’t have a separate savings account yet.
The rising cost of living does pose a challenge, particularly due to inflation, which affects my ability to save more.
That being said, my lifestyle is set and does not involve a lot of variables, except travel.
Have you started saving for retirement?
Firstly, I don’t ever plan to retire. I stand by the age-old proverb of “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”, a principle I learnt and wholeheartedly embraced since my childhood. So, I always keep myself occupied with productive work.
My father is more than 75 years old, but he continues to work.
Also, I feel my property investments will always support me with additional passive income.
Do you have an emergency fund?
My savings double as my emergency fund, offering me a safety net during unexpected financial challenges.
What do you spend your disposable income on?
It’s primarily spent on travelling. I love travelling and have visited more than 30 countries.
I travel at least three to four times a year. I don’t have a separate account where I save money for travelling, I take it from my current account.
Do you earn passive income?
Yes, through my properties. I have always believed in saving money and then, when we found the right one at the right time, we bought it.
Do you worry about money?
Yes, I do worry about money, mainly due to the impact of inflation, which hampers my ability to save more.
I also think of what assets I will leave for my children in future. I don’t have kids, yet.
I also worry about how we will save in the future after accounting for children’s school fees and other expenses.
What are your best money saving tips to offset inflation?
Buying gold is my go-to strategy. It’s a resilient investment that not only helps combat inflation but also allows me to enjoy exquisite jewellery.
What are your financial goals?
One of my primary financial goals is to acquire a property in Dubai. Hopefully, I can buy an apartment and rent it out in the next two to three years.
Additionally, I aspire to explore more avenues for wealth creation and financial growth.
I want to buy properties in Europe and the US to lease them out as short-term rentals, grow my business in different verticals that complement our current business, pursue gold and forex trading, and start and grow multiple online dropshipping businesses.
What is your idea of financial freedom?
My concept of financial freedom revolves around earning enough passive income to travel the world at will and, equally importantly, support the growth and well-being of others.
I believe that by uplifting others, we get uplifted as well and together we all will grow.
It’s always been my passion to help others start their own businesses and support them.
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