Clear your head of worry, make a plan, communicate with your creditors
We are so delighted to welcome back today Rama Al Chakaki, who we’ve featured previously on our site during our Women In Business week. After hearing her inspiring story, we asked if she’d be a UAE Saves Week ambassador and be willing to share the parts of her story perhaps harder to discuss. So today, we talk to Rama about her struggle with debt, how she overcame it, and how you can too. We can’t recommend this read enough!
Rama, your story has been featured on cashy.me before as a part of our 'Women in Business' week. Thanks so much for joining us as an ambassador of UAE Saves Week. We'd like to ask you first up, what excites you about UAE Saves Week?
Sharing with the aim of inspiring change. Talking about my experience… who doesn't like to talk about themselves?
What made you feel you wanted to get involved?
I have come to realize money management isn't a natural born talent. One has to work on it, and learn from others. Unfortunately, not many people are open about their finances. So there are few examples out there, especially ones that have a positive spin on a challenge. It's my opportunity to share and hopefully impact positive change.
Your own journey to financial empowerment didn't always run smoothly. What were some of the trying times you faced with regards to your money, and how did you overcome them?
I've learned the hard way what "due diligence" means in business investments. I put money into investments emotionally rather than after careful consideration of the risks/rewards. I overcame them by looking forward and cutting my losses. There's a point at which you say: "I know I lost x, but further investment will make it x-squared. Get out and file it under experience.” I look back at those experiences without beating myself up emotionally, but rather reminding myself of the business lessons I've learned.
Did you ever seek help from friends/family or a financial adviser? If not, do you regret this? I did... from all. I've learned it is most important to arm yourself with inner wisdom and knowledge. It's good to seek advice, but you have to have done the work and had the financial knowledge.
What do you think are the most crucial first steps to getting out of debt?
Planning. You have to have a clear plan of action that is coupled with very effective communication with those involved.
What has been the most important money lesson you have learned?
Money does grow on trees, but you plant those trees, and nurture them consistently.
What's the one thing you wish you could have told yourself during times of financial stress?
Money is energy and your relationship with money MUST be positive. Stress is a negative energy - applied to money it will erode at it. You must be positive about difficult financial times and think. "What lesson am I learning here and what is the best outcome?” Then work for it!
What would be your advice to those facing large amounts of debt at the moment?
Take up yoga or praying. Meditate. Run. Clear your mind of worry, write a plan, communicate with your creditors with positive emotions and gratitude and watch your plan work magic.
When you read about UAE nationals and expats alike taking out multiple credit cards to clear off some of their existing debt, what are your thoughts? Do we need more education about personal finance in the region?
Absolutely. But we also need to shift the responsibility onto banks' marketing departments. Banks must engage educated consumers only. They should be accountable for honest communications.
As for consumers, everyone must ask the question "What am I getting this for? How can I simplify my life? Do I need another credit card, or scissors to cut existing ones up?"
Is buying into more credit (e.g. a loan, credit card) to get out of debt EVER a viable option?
Not for me, but I am not a financial expert. I chose to negotiate the terms of my existing debt and pay it off rather than take on another responsibility.
Want to take your first steps towards Getting Out Of Debt? Take part in G.O.O.D Thursday and photograph what got you into debt in the first place. Is it a weakness for shoes? Toys for your children? Or fancy watches and clothes? Take a photo and upload the picture of you doing it to our UAE Saves Week gallery!
How about telling us how you can change your vice back into cash? And maybe this time use it wisely.