Ryan Glenn is general manager for Acumen Advertising. The 35-year-old, who moved to Dubai four years ago, left his native South Africa at 18 to see the world, moving to London initially and later Europe and Australia. His career started in music promoting before he moved into advertising.
How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?
Having grown up with two older brothers, my upbringing was very competitive. Whether it was who got the bigger serving, saved the most pocket money or played the better garden cricket, we were always pushing each other to do better and achieve more. That kind of attitude goes a long way in the world of money because you learn the value of earning and understand what it takes to work hard towards a goal.
How much did you get paid for your first job?
My first job was when I was 10, caddying for my father every Sunday morning on the golf course. I used to get paid around 5 rand (Dh1.25), which I saved up to buy my first set of golf clubs.
Are you spender or saver?
A bit of both really. I always believe you need to have a balance when it comes to money, so I always save a little every month. I also like to spoil myself and buy on impulse now and again. I buy watches, shoes, surfboards and golf clubs.
What is your most cherished purchase?
My golf putter. My dad once told me that the two most expensive things a man should own, are the two things he will use the most – one being a bed and the other a golf putter.
Have you ever had a month where you feared you could you not pay the bills?
Yes, I can honestly say there have been a few months in my life where I have been down and out. I moved overseas away from my family when I was 18, and at that age had a very relaxed outlook on life. Financial mistakes were made, but that’s the great thing about life’s lessons, it makes you stronger and wiser. I was short on rent once in London, due to a last- minute trip to Spain to watch the “running of the bulls”. I was 20, working as an assistant promoter for a music agency called Mean Fiddler. Not realising what a budget was at that stage of my life, I overspent on the trip and had to borrow from friends to pay rent.
Where do you save your money?
I have a savings account but not all my money goes there. I like to invest, and real estate has always been a solid investment. I have invested in South Africa, although currently I am looking at Dubai. Real estate is one of the few investment vehicles where using the bank’s money couldn’t be easier. The ability to make a down payment, leverage your capital and thus increase your overall return is attractive. Plus, one can look at it as another source of income when retired.
Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?
Cash is king, but in today’s society I prefer paying by credit card, because I like to be rewarded for my spending. Banks are so competitive these days that a consumer can shop around for the perfect card to suit their lifestyle, whether it be complimentary golf, air miles, movie tickets or shopping discounts.
What has been your best investment?
My family, my friends and my staff as without them I wouldn’t be where I am right now. Acumen Advertising currently has 25 staff members. I’m not yet married.
What do you most regret spending money on?
Diamond earrings for a girl. It has been a long-standing joke with my friends for that silly mistake. Needless to say I did not end up with the girl.
What financial advice would you offer your younger self?
Start small, dream big. The key to financial freedom is your ability to convert earned income into passive income.
If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?
Pay off my debt, buy a new golf putter and invest the rest.
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