Profile: I had a newspaper round when I was 14, says president and partner of ACT, Theresa Weber

Profile: I had a newspaper round when I was 14, says president and partner of ACT, Theresa Weber
30 June 2013

What’s your spending philosophy?

Okay – I’m a little bit unconventional. In general, I believe in spending more money and then you’ll make more money in business and in life. I’ve established two businesses this way, with partners – I’m not the one with the expertise. What I’ve learnt is that by being conservative with our spending, we weren’t allowing the business to grow. So – yes – it is a bit unconventional. But I’ve seen it work.

Have you ever been down on your luck financially?

Good question! When I was studying abroad in my twenties – in the UK, and as I was an overseas student, I wasn’t allowed to work. So I supplemented my income by writing consulting reports for various organizations off the books. And writing is hard to make a living from, so it was a lot of work. But it helped me to manage, because although my tutition fees were covered, my living expenses were not. If I’d been back home in the States, I’d have been able to find work, no problem, but this situation certainly presented a challenge!

More recently, about 10 years ago, I left a very large and secure company with good pension etc etc, to branch out on my own with partners. We started our consultancy in three different countries, and so had three different taxation systems and legal systems to deal with – and the company didn’t actually make any money for three and a half years. It was really tough. But it’s about perseverance and seeing the end goal. You can get there eventually.

What’s the biggest challenge facing today’s consumers?

I think it’s lack of finance budgeting. I’ve served on several school boards here – currently I’m on the St Mary’s school board – which looks after four schools in total. These kids graduate and go off to great universities, but they can’t budget their money because none of these schools run finance courses. This is something really big that’s missing from the curriculum – and sadly I see it in my own teenagers as well.

What was your biggest mistake financially?

One of the problems in the US is that education system is so expensive. So I took student loans to go to university and it took me 10 years to pay them off. If you can pay for your education without taking loans, and you can avoid that burden somehow, it will make a huge difference to the way you can move forward in life at an earlier stage. In the US it now costs around quarter of a million US dollars to go to a private university – so people are taking out huge loans and paying them back over time. But the interest rates on those loans are around eight to nine percent – which is very high. There is a crisis happening in the US because of this. Luckily for the Emiratis here, that’s not something they have to face.

What’s your first memory of money?

I was 14, and I had a newspaper round. And some people would tip you, and others wouldn’t. It was a very interesting experience. I learned that every summer, I needed to get a job. But my children here don’t have that experience because we’ve lived here eight years, and they are not allowed to work part-time until they are 18. Where I grew up, having a part-time job was part of my education in learning how to manage money. Kids here don’t have that opportunity, apart from perhaps having an allowance and managing that. But it’s not the same at all.

What car do you drive – and do you own it outright?

I drive a Volvo – yes, it’s the safest family car and it’s kinda boring – but it’s good. And when we bought it, we paid for it in full.

Who is better at the finances in your house? You or your husband?

Hmmm. Good question. He’s actually a financial advisor, but I do all the household budgeting – so I’d say I was better at the everyday practicalities.

What does the word ‘womenomics’ mean to you?

Interesting.. You know there are so many words like that now and I don’t know if I really agree with them because a lot of the time, people don’t know what they mean. When I think of ‘womenomics’ I think of my professor at college who was great at economics and taught us what women can do to be an economic professor. I think these days it’s more about the study of women working in their fields.

What are your three top tips on saving cash?

Put money away in a savings fund every week.

Start your own pension as soon as possible.

Spread your wealth a little – through charity or through tips – even if it’s just a small amount, it’s a good practice to get into.





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