Money & Me: ‘It's important to do what you love’

Nadine Chammas, an author, public speaker and life mentor, says she spent wisely on her education, health and well-being

Nadine Chammas has invested in properties in the UAE, the US and Lebanon. Antonie Robertson / The National
Powered by automated translation

Nadine Chammas, a Lebanese national who lives in Dubai, learnt the value of money at a young age, as she grew up during the war in her home country.

She started working at the age of 16 as a singer to support her family and has explored multiple careers since then, including being a motivational speaker, author, life mentor, theatre director and entrepreneur.

Ms Chammas, the author of The Stage Is Yours, moved to Dubai from Lebanon in 2000.

She holds a bachelor's degree in fine arts and theatre studies from the Lebanese University and is also a certified stage hypnotherapist.

She also founded The Life Director consultancy to promote positive living among individuals, corporate and educational institutions.

Ms Chammas, 47, lives with her husband, an engineer, and two children, aged 20 and 18, in Umm Suqeim, Dubai.

Did wealth feature in your childhood?

I lived my childhood in Lebanon during the war. I learnt that you need to save money because there were times where we didn't have anything and my father couldn't work, but we had savings. We were six kids.

My father, who ran a car workshop, used to tell us that you need a certification and a diploma, and also learn a skill that will help generate more money. This skill should come from a passion.

I started working at the age of 16. I never ran after money, but was always aware that it is important to learn how to use money and not depend on anyone.

How did you first earn?

I was very good at maths and physics, so used to tutor kids in the neighbourhood. This is how I earned pocket money.

One day, I was asked to sing in place of another singer and agreed to do it as a one-off gig. They paid me $100.

I didn't realise until then that singing paid a lot of money. At 18, I was a professional singer, singing in the best restaurants, best hotels, best parties, at weddings and even in the presidential palace.

I was making a lot of money. I used to make between $6,000 and $10,000 a month.

When I went to university, I bought myself a new car. I was also contributing money to the house and was paying for all my expenses since the age of 14.

Do you remember any early financial jolts?

During the war, my father used to make a lot of money. We used to have a good standard of living and a palatial house. My mum used to have a driver, too.

After the war, my father lost his health and couldn't work anymore. All the cash he had was depleted. This was the time when all my siblings and I started working to support the family.

It was a sudden turn of events from never having to worry about money to having to earn your own money. What I learnt from this is that things can change at any time.

So, we need to be resilient and prepared to face those things with acceptance.

These are some values I learnt from my childhood and facing a financial crisis or death. My father died due to depression and my mother died of cancer 10 months after he died.

Why did you move to Dubai?

I got a job here. It was the turning point in my life because the year 2000 was a lot to handle in terms of loss and I experienced trauma.

I came here and wanted to start all over again. My sisters and I opened a production company because I had studied theatre, acting and script writing. This was successful for nine years.

Money was very easy to earn using my talents.

It's very important to do what you love, and then money will come. When I worked on things that I didn’t love, the money was not there at all.

When did you lose money?

In 2010, I opened a kids’ play area as an entrepreneurial thing. The concept was great and creative. But I didn’t have management or auditing skills.

When did you move to being a life coach?

After the entertainment centre, I started working on myself and began to learn healing and therapy modalities such as hypnotherapy and psychology. This helped me embark on a new career.

I am also a speaker and talk about how I overcame challenges. After I shut down the entertainment centre, I had breast cancer. This was another turning point in my life.

During many stages of my life, I was successful, productive, efficient and had lots of money, while during another time, I was doing more but wasn’t getting money at all. On the contrary, I was losing money.

That’s when I decided to reassess what I wanted to do. Money didn't mean anything to me anymore.

I voluntarily did many talks, workshops and sessions for people for free. It was giving back to the community.

I learnt to open myself to new things. If I want to earn money, I can only earn it with passion, not with obligation or under pressure.

How do you grow your wealth?

I have investments. My husband and I have invested in properties in the UAE, the US and Lebanon. We also created a savings account for our kids’ university education.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I spend a lot in proportion to how much I have, but I do it in the right way and never overspend. I spend either to invest or to have a good life.

I spend on things that are valuable, be it food or clothes. I’d rather have one thing that is valuable than owning 100 items that have no value at all.

Have you been wise with money?

Yes, I've been wise in money matters. I’ve never been in a situation where I needed to borrow money from someone. I’ve always been self-sufficient.

I spend on things that are valuable. I’d rather have one thing that is valuable than owning 100 items that have no value at all
Nadine Chammas

What is your best investment so far?

The best investment I have done so far has been on my education.

What I’ve invested in recently was producing my album, and it cost a lot of money. But it was worth it because I spent on something I love. It’s been something that I always wanted to do.

It wasn’t easy, but the second I decided to do it, the money came in. Money is energy. You can attract what you need if it's aligned with what you like.

I also invested to acquire certifications in hypnotherapy. I travelled to Las Vegas nine times in three years to get the best diplomas to become a trainer in hypnotherapy and a stage hypnotist. This cost a lot of money.

I’ve travelled a lot to educate myself more and learn from experiences. I also acquired more knowledge in yoga, meditation, therapy and spirituality.

I’ve invested a lot in my education, knowledge and well-being over the past 10 years.

Do you have any cherished purchases?

I love shoes. When I see a pair of shoes that I like and if it's expensive, I manifest to get the money to buy it.

Do you have any financial advice for your younger self?

I wouldn’t advise the younger me to save more because although I saved a lot of money in Lebanon after working in Dubai for 20 years, all the money was devalued due to the economic crisis.

Always look for more opportunities, have more than one job and discover hidden talents in yourself.

What luxuries are important to you?

I like diamonds, but don’t spend a lot on these things.

I also like experiences, so I spend on travel. Even while travelling, I like luxury, so I spend on the best hotels and travel first class.

What are your key financial milestones?

It’d be when I started the production company and unexpected money came in.

This was the peak of my career where I earned a lot of money using my artistic talents, despite being young.

What are your financial goals?

My short-term goal is to buy a house in Europe for my kids because they study in Spain.

My long-term goal is to open an agency to help young people discover their talents and direct them to a career that will offer them financial freedom.

How do you feel about money?

I feel good about money because I have plans to utilise it properly, save, invest, create concepts and help people.

If you can align money with your life’s purpose, earning more will help you to do more and help more.

Updated: February 16, 2024, 6:02 PM