Money & Me: Expat Abu Dhabi artist uses nature instead of spending

Mike Metzger is an Abu-Dhabi based freelance artist. Born in Massachusetts to a businessman father and an artistic mother, Mr Metzger, 31, was educated in New Jersey, where he studied agriculture and growing plants. Mr Metzger moved to the UAE nine months ago to work as the “dir­ector of imagination” for Brand Moxie, a marketing […]

Mike Metzger is an Abu-Dhabi based freelance artist. Born in Massachusetts to a businessman father and an artistic mother, Mr Metzger, 31, was educated in New Jersey, where he studied agriculture and growing plants. Mr Metzger moved to the UAE nine months ago to work as the “dir­ector of imagination” for Brand Moxie, a marketing and media company in twofour54. The job included running classes teaching the community how to identify edible wild plants and using plants for medicinal purposes.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

Money for me has always been an obstacle because most of the things I need to survive – whether that is food, housing or certain materials – are available in nature. I can grow them, harvest them, I see them in the wild. Money is an obstacle because it’s something I would prefer not to use. I prefer natural materials and to be able to exchange other goods and services. Ideally, I would like to grow my own food and use my own art as my own currency. This would be my philosophy of interacting.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

When I was nine years old, I was an assistant florist in New Jersey. My wage was $5 an hour. My boss was very nice to me and paid me in cash.

Are you spender or saver?

I am a massive saver. My meals cost anywhere between Dh4 and Dh7. I ride the bus for Dh2 a go. I do, however, spend ­money on good chocolate (80-90 per cent chocolate) and on shoes.

What is your most cherished purchase?

An old maritime tool called a sextant. It is an ancient tool that can find your position any­where in the world using the sun, moon, stars and the planets. This is how the old sailors used to find where they were before modern technology. Mine cost about $200.

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

No, but I’ve had months where I did not know if I could find a house or a room. It was the fear of finding a room rather than not being able to pay rent.

Where do you save?

Currently, my savings and everything is in my wallet. My money goes wherever I go.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

I always pay by cash. Cash is king.

What has been your best investment?

Maintaining good health. This is by making sure that I consume enough Vitamin C – usually through salads, lemon juice and other citrus fruits. It is also through getting enough iron from meat and dark greens.

What do you most regret spending money on?

On a one-month prepaid bus card. I lost a lot of money.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Actually nothing, I use money as nothing more than a tool. I use it to achieve goals, dreams, and ambitions. I don’t see money as something to feel prosperous or important. I use and earn money strategically as means to do what I cannot do directly by doing direct exchange. I had the same philosophy in my younger years as I do now.

Do you have a plan for the future?

In eight to nine months’ time, I am hoping to take a massive journey across the Empty Quarter with camels. The trip aims to unite the entire Bedouin population of the Arabian Peninsula. It is to cross from the UAE, to Saudi Arabia and the furthest eastern corner of Yemen.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?

I would purchase some camels, some ancient tools such as the Bedouins’ traditional Arabian Desert tools and I would give the rest to charity – to Palestine.

What would you raid your savings for?

Camels and lots of raw materials – wood, skins, wool from sheep and goat and needles for stitching and crafting.

selgazzar@thenational.ae

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Source: Business

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