My Dubai Salary: ‘I earn Dh300,000 a year in energy management'

Anshul Agrawal earns passive income from his investments in property, stocks and mutual funds

Anshul Agrawal has invested in a three-bedroom villa in Dubai and rents it out for passive income. Pawan Singh / The National
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Anshul Agrawal is an energy management professional working in the building facilities sector.

Originally from Bhopal in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Mr Agrawal moved to the UAE eight years ago to further his career after graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering in 2013.

He has since completed an MBA, which his father helped to pay for, and he is now planning to study for his doctoral degree.

“I am passionate about the topics of climate change, energy conservation, sustainability and waste management,” Mr Agrawal, 31, says.

“Presently, I am handling various portfolios of projects with a common goal of ensuring the efficient energy use of the buildings.”

Mr Agrawal is unmarried and lives in Dubai.

What is your current salary?

I make approximately Dh300,000 ($81,688) a year from different sources of income, including my full-time job and other side hustles, such as real estate and my investments in mutual funds and stocks.

Have you negotiated for a salary rise before?

I have negotiated for a salary raise a few times and it went well. I believe that compensation should be fair according to market demands.

Do you have investments and savings?

Yes, I am a big believer in investments and savings, beside spending on personal necessities. I invest in stocks and mutual funds and am also exploring opportunities to invest in more properties.

I own a three-bedroom villa in Dubai but don’t need to live there as I am single. So, I have rented it out. The rent that the tenants pay covers the mortgage 100 per cent and there is some extra money left over each month.

What about an emergency fund?

Yes, I have an emergency fund that will cover me for approximately one year.

One year is a good time period for an emergency fund because you can look forward and fine tune what it is that you want to do – it gives you time to consider your future.

If it was just three months’ worth of expenses, you would not have time to think about it.

I do feel, however, that a six-month emergency fund is the minimum a person should have.

Have you started saving for retirement?

To be honest, I don't believe in retirement because your brain will work for you, as well as the investments you have that will bring in extra money to support your livelihood.

However, there are many options available that guarantee you a safe retirement, and I am looking for experts to advise me on choosing from the tonnes of plans available.

I have not started saving for retirement yet, but I’m not going to retire at the age of 40. I mean, even my father is still working.

For my family, retirement is something that happens once all the children are married and settled. Only then, they say, that it is a good time to retire as they no longer have to rely on the traditional way of making money.

I believe that retirement is one of the most important types of saving or investment someone should do after securing their emergency fund.

Do you have any debt?

Yes, I have a mortgage of about Dh1 million.

Have you ever inherited a sum of money?

No, I haven't inherited any money. My father has supported me with my education in Dubai but aside from that, I manage myself.

Were you taught how to handle money as a child?

I come from a Marwari Indian family, where every child is taught how to use their money wisely. So, yes, I inherited this skill from my parents and ancestors.

I was taught things like how you keep funds for emergencies, what type of purchases you should not make and the type of decisions you should make when it comes to satisfying a want.

One should not be emotion-based when it comes to spending. I totally follow this – that’s how I managed to buy a villa at the age of 30.

I was tempted once by my emotions, when I wanted to purchase a car that I liked very much. It was a Range Rover and the seller wanted to sell it on the day itself.

Because I liked it too much, I agreed and said I'd give him the funds if he transferred it into my name on the same day.

When we went to the Roads and Transport Authority centre, it was closed. But the next day, the reality hit. I was fortunate that it was closed and I didn't buy the car.

What are your biggest monthly expenses?

I would have to say that it is the monthly instalments on my mortgage. My rent payments are not that much compared with the mortgage.

The rest of my expenses are small, such as fuel for the car, daily expenses and bills.

How do you budget your salary with the rising cost of living?

I do this by tracking my spending. I follow the 50/30/20 budgeting rule, which allocates 50 per cent of income to needs, 30 per cent to wants and 20 per cent to savings and debt repayments.

I would say I'm not financially free but I can always find a way not to stress myself and still be happy by setting financial goals
Anshul Agrawal

Do you have any tips to deal with inflation?

I try to get the most out of my “sure” expenses – the expenses I know that I will incur every month.

For instance, Cafu (Dubai’s fuel delivery and vehicle services platform) has a plan where it gives you Dh100 extra when you recharge your wallet.

So, Cafu said to me that if I reach Dh2,000 in my wallet, it will give me Dh2,100. Ultimately, I have reduced my “sure” expenses and have also enjoyed a benefit of 5.5 per cent.

It’s also important to keep up with the latest news and information about inflation. This will help you to make informed decisions about your finances.

Do you worry about money?

Yes, sometimes, when I look at the rising cost of living. The only solution is to generate a passive source of income to offset inflation.

Automating your investments also helps, as you cannot focus on them every day, or week or month. If you do it manually, you will not be consistent. I believe that investing consistently will yield the best returns.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

I would say that I'm not financially free but I can always find a way not to stress myself and still be happy by setting financial goals.

To achieve financial freedom, I recommend living below your means, paying off debt, investing your money, seeking professional help and knowing when to review and adjust your investments.

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Updated: December 19, 2023, 5:00 AM