‘We made the best from one income’: UAE expat on learning to save in a single parent family

Clementina Kongslund on what it’s like to save when you earn on a commission basis

By Melanie Swan

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Published: Thu 14 Mar 2024, 5:48 PM

Last updated: Thu 14 Mar 2024, 7:33 PM

Real estate agent Clementina Kongslund came to the UAE from Romania in 2010 in the wake of the financial crisis. Now 46, she reflects on her relationship with money.

If you had to use one word to describe money, what would it be?


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

Dear Money, it is said that you do not bring happiness, but I’m sure you can contribute hugely to it. So please, come my way with love and health.

How would you describe your relationship with money?

If I don’t have to manage money and keep the bills in mind, I’m happy to have someone else taking care of it.

How do you think this relationship was formed?

Well, I like my financial independence but sometimes, I need moderation. That’s why I like having my husband by my side as he can keep me on the right track.

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

Being a single parent, my mum was very wise in spending money. We’ve never spent more than we had, but, at the same time, there were no credit cards, so less temptations. But she also had some cash put aside. Always, a small emergency fund.

Who has taught you the most about financial management?

First, I learnt from my mum who had to make the best from one income. I’ve never felt that we had less than others. Later, I started reading books about financial education. And finally, my husband who is the clear head with our budget. I’m a bit careless.

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

Money comes and goes but one must always have an emergency fund. Saving is crucial. Nobody should live pay cheque to pay cheque.

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

It didn’t change much. I just have to come to terms with the fact that here things are more expensive and what I find cheap for my European friends is expensive.

If you could give your child or your younger self one piece of advice about money, what would that be?

Don’t spend money just because you have it. I was very quick in spending the money I was earning and didn’t have patience to save more.

Do you plan your finances in the long term?

I have created a portfolio of assets: real estate, bonds, stocks, private and government pension schemes.

How much do you save each month?

As I’m paid by commission only, I don’t have a fixed income, but all my income is going into the savings account and from there, we spend on going on trips and make investments.

How much do you plan to have by the time you are 65?

A comfortable passive income of several thousands of Euros monthly.


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