Profile: ‘Avoid credit cards and designer handbags,’ says Rasha Kashkoush

Profile: ‘Avoid credit cards and designer handbags,’ says Rasha Kashkoush
19 June 2013

Rasha Kashkoush is the regional director of government communications and public affairs for Hill and Knowlton. She has lived in Dubai since 2004, but recently completed her Masters in the US.

What’s your spending philosophy?

To find a balance between spending and saving as much as possible – just to be able to enjoy myself, but to keep an eye on my future objectives as to why I’m working in the first place.

Have you ever been down on your financial luck?

I had to rely on credits cards quite a lot when I was a student doing my Masters. Even though I had some assistance from my company and through scholarships and whatnot, I still couldn’t keep up with the financial demands of living in New York, which was where I was studying.  I relied on credit cards for the non-essentials – life’s little luxuries if you will and as a result of that, I did get into some credit card debt. Now I’m working towards restructuring that debt so that I’m not paying really heavy interest.

It’s a very easy thing to fall into though, isn’t it?

Absolutely – because you forget what you’ve bought – and you just pay the minimum installments on a monthly basis without really thinking about the bigger picture and exactly how much you owe.

What do you think the biggest challenge is facing consumers today?

There isn’t enough financial education in this part of the world – on what people’s different options are. For example, taking out a loan in Dubai is very easy – but it’s not very clear or transparent what the regulations are, and what the relationship is between the consumer and the bank. There are a lot of loopholes and there aren’t enough credit checks. For example, I’m now at the stage where I’m looking to invest what I have for my future. You reach a stage in your life where you not only have enough disposable income to spend and save, but also to invest as well.  There isn’t enough information out there for people like me.

What’s your opinion on the credit crunch. Dubai is back on the up. Have we learned enough from that past experience?

Yes. I think it’s assisted in giving people perspective – that the business cycle has it’s ups and downs, and they need to be prepared for the downs and plan for them when they happen. It’s been a great learning curve.

What’s been your biggest mistake spend? Can you confess it to us?

Hmmmm. My biggest mistake spend?  I can’t think of anything too outrageous….

Really? No Laboutin shoes that you’ve never worn lurking at the back of your closet?

Right! Yes! Okay! I did actually fall into that trap about six years ago – and the worst spend was on a handbag, which I bought with my first end-of-year bonus. But I had such guilt palpitations afterwards that I just never did it again. I can now never again spend a huge amount of money on an item of clothing or a consumer product because I’ve realized that it’s a cycle you can get stuck into that prevents you from enjoying your money in other ways.

What’s your biggest financial achievement to date?

I think it has to have been my ability to have funded, and eventually to have paid for a very expensive education in the US. It was a great investment and I think it’s going to be something that I see great returns on for many years to come.

How do you keep yourself inspired and motivated when it comes to your finances?

Having an end goal – and knowing why I’m saving and what it’s for. I keep myself in check when it comes to spending because I try to always keep that in mind.




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