From desperate times to living on Palm Jumeirah: How family’s advice helped UAE single mother

Dubai-based Sumit Augustine has had a philosophical approach towards spending

By Melanie Swan

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Published: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 7:30 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 7:31 PM

Sumit Augustine, 35, is a single mum with a busy job in marketing. The Indian expatriate has been in the UAE since she was just nine years old. Juggling work and motherhood in Dubai is a tricky balance and not least, financially. But with the support of her family, who she lives with on the Palm, and a philosophical attitude towards spending, she has clear goals for the future for both her and her seven-year-old son, Joshua.

If you had to write a letter to money, what would you say?

You are valuable and that is why some of us toil to make you while others get you through easy means. Your value can help change somebody’s life for the better. My generation and I looking to make more of you to change destinies.

How would you describe your relationship to money?

Money is a necessity but I would not be running after money. I do try to maintain my level head over money since everything cannot be built on money alone.

How do you think this relationship was formed?

This relationship was formed through my education and nurturing that I received from my family. We used to see our families treating money with respect and also respecting people who made money despite having difficulties. That education and real life experience made us understand the value of money and its importance in our lives.

What lessons about money management did you learn from your mother?

I have only learnt good lessons about money from my mother. She would often tell us to save our money for that ‘rainy day’ and with the kind of experiences I have been dealing with as a single mother, having to juggle numerous bills and a child to take care of, this lesson has indeed come in handy for me. Now, if my son wants to buy a toy, we both have a discussion and try to understand if the toy is important for him at that point of time. My mother’s money has always come in handy for me and I have had a bit of savings all because of those lessons.

What do you think has been the most profound experience you’ve had so far in relation to money?

That money is a necessity but it is not everything. Being a single mother, there have been times when I have wondered if had I had enough money, would I have been able to realise a certain dream? But when I see how some of the famous celebrities flaunt money for unscrupulous purposes, I realise that it is better for me to have just about enough money.

How do you think living in the UAE has changed your relationship with money?

The UAE has been my home for the past 26 years. I have seen this place change from what was then the biggest landmark, World Trade Center, to the Burj Khalifa and Palm Jumeirah. This country has shown me the best of both worlds. When you visit old Dubai, you get to experience how people used to live simply and still found happiness. At the same time, if you visit Palm Jumeirah (where I live with my family at present), you get to see the opulence that the country has to offer. So the UAE has, in essence, taught me how to value money for what it is.

If you could give your child one piece of advice about money now, what would that be and why?

Use your money wisely. Save 80 per cent of your money and use 20 per cent for your expenses. If you are going to spend money, spend it on experiences and education.

What is your long-term goal or dream which is pegged to your finances?

My long term goal is to have my own property here in the UAE. I’d want to buy my own property some day and I do not want to do that on mortgage. I would like to invest my own money into it.

How much do you save each month?

I save about 50% of my income each month.


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