Money & me: Founder of Dental Spa pays it forward

Dr Ahmed Amer is a cosmetic and laser dentist and the founder of the Dental Spa in Dubai. The Egyptian moved to the UAE in 2000 to work at a government hospital in Al Ain before setting up on his own in 2005. The 52-year-old lives with his wife and two daughters, seven and five.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I had a very happy childhood growing up in downtown Cairo, Egypt, with an emphasis on the importance of education. My father, an educational planner for the Ministry of Education, was very hard- working and while we were not poor, there wasn’t a lot extra. My parents sheltered us from financial topics with the idea they were protecting us. I think it was part generation and part culture. I had to pretty much teach myself and learnt some important life lessons.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

At 15, I was paid 100 Egyptian pounds (Dh41) for a DJ gig on weekends at a popular Cairo night spot on the Nile. It was good money at the time.

Are you a spender or saver?

Definitely a spender, although I am not a big spender on myself. I actually enjoy spending on my family … particularly my daughters. I buy them toys, clothes, food they like and take them places they enjoy. My wife has to keep me in check occasionally. Like a lot of men, I also spend on gadgets and technology.

What is your most cherished purchase?

A few years ago I splurged and took my parents, my brother, my wife and my daughter on a family holiday to Istanbul for a week where we celebrated my birthday. I probably spent about Dh40,000 and I loved being able to do that for my parents.

Have you ever had a month where you feared you could you not pay the bills?

Yes, I have had a few of these in my lifetime. One that stands out is when I decided to invest and start my own clinic. The initial investment in setting up, including the high-tech equipment, can be very expensive. It was scary for a while, especially when there is no pay cheque with a set amount coming in at the end of the month. But I felt like it was “now or never”, and so I just went for it.

Where do you save your money?

I constantly reinvest in my business. In my field, it is imperative to stay on top of the latest in equipment and technology. I also contribute to an offshore monthly pension fund and education fund for my young daughters.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

I try to pay as much as I can on my credit card as I get air miles and it is easier to track spending. I make sure I pay the bill in full at the end of the month instead of accruing the ridiculous finance charges.

What do you most regret spending money on?

I invested in a family member’s business idea and made my decision based on emotions and not on facts or a business plan. Let’s just say it was a lot of ­money and a decision that still gives me chest pain to this day when I think about it.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Start saving as early as possible, even if it is a small amount every month. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket … diversification is a must.

Do you have a plan for the future?

Absolutely. Having young children, I have had to make plans to ensure a financial safety net for them.

If you won Dh1m, what would you do with it?

I am a big fan of paying it forward, so I would definitely contribute to a worthy children’s charity. I would also invest in the Dubai property market.

What would you raid your savings account for?​

At this point of my life, it would have to be for a family emergency.

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