Islamic Perspectives

Muslimah’s Guide to Saving Smarter

As a child, I remember my mother keeping a meticulous record of things she bought with the housekeeping money my father gave her. I often wondered why; and when I asked, she’d say she needed to make hisaab, or be accountable for the money she used. Since the money was entrusted to her by my father, she had to use it responsibly. As I entered my teenage years, I thought the idea almost laughable - would I be willing to keep track of every cent I spent? Then I became an adult, entered the corporate world and started earning my own money. Stark reality hit me like a bucket of ice cold water in the face on a cold winter’s day! I gained a greater respect for the tedious system my mother had applied to our housekeeping finances during my childhood. I finally understood it and much to my own amazement, I too, started keeping a “hisaab kitaab” (record book) of almost every cent I spent, though mine was the new-age version in the form of an Excel spreadsheet. During my entrance into adulthood and my introduction to big, scary words such as budgeting, accountability and responsibility, the method behind my mother’s madness became evident - I had learned the secrets to saving money and the art of spending it wisely. “Saving”, however, is a term not necessarily restricted to money and finance. There are many different avenues where you could potentially save. If I had to sum up the lessons I’ve learned over the years, it would come down to this: Use your wealth to your benefit, So you’re thinking Jimmy Choo’s and Louis Vuitton handbags, shopping sprees in Paris, Milan and New York, right? Wrong! As a Muslim, it is our duty to acknowledge that whatever wealth we have been blessed with, is indeed a blessing from Allah (glorified and exalted be He). Use your wealth to cater to your own needs and halaal (permissible) desires, but always remain mindful that Allah (glorified and exalted be He) has given you a measure of wealth to test what you will do with it, whether you will hoard it selfishly or spend an amount for His pleasure: “And spend of your substance in the cause of Allah, and make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction; but do good; for Allah loveth those who do good” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 195].
Don’t be wasteful A visit to any restaurant or eatery presents the same scene: a family of four order enough food to feed an small army. The same thing happens in most of our homes. We’ve become thoughtless in our disregard for the less fortunate; we’ve become extravagant and wasteful without batting an eyelid. Many of us, myself included, go into shopping frenzies and literally “shop until we drop,” but my prayer for each of us is that we become aware of what we are spending, how much we are wasting and what the consequences of our actions are. “O children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink, But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters” [Qur’an: Chapter 7, Verse 31].

Thankfulness leads to untold treasures When a person says “Alhamdulillah” (All praises are due to Allah) for everything that he has been granted, Allah (glorified and exalted be He) says: “If you are grateful I will grant you increase (in your bounties) and if you are ungrateful then verily my punishment is very severe” [Qur’an: Chapter 14, Verse 7]. The message is simple: give thanks to your Creator and you shall be rewarded in abundance, In sha Allah. Islam is a practical religion, and Allah (glorified and exalted be He) has made it easy for us to incorporate our religion and its teachings, into our daily lives. Now that we know what the Qur’an and Hadith say about saving and wastefulness, let’s look at some practical tips to saving:
1. Know your money: Sounds fairly simple but many people get caught in the trap of not knowing what their disposable income is. It is important to know exactly how much you have so that you know how much to spend.
2. Learn to save: Ditch the credit cards if you can - spend cold, hard cash only, and my golden rule is “If I can’t afford it right now, then I probably don’t need it right now”. This also serves as a motivation, so when I see a pair of heels that I really want, I cut back on some other luxury and save towards getting them!
3. Beat the budget blues: Sticking to a budget is an integral part of managing your family’s finances effectively. Cheating on your budget is cheating yourself. Be honest when you reflect amounts (i. e., income and expenses) on your budget - you can’t spend money you don’t have! Also, be mindful of saving - remember to save something every month, for those ‘rainy days’.
4. Get street-smart: Watch your local stores prices. Most stores have special offers from time to time - capitalize on these! They usually offer great savings and allow bulk purchasing. This means that you get more bang for your buck if you shop during these special offer promotions.
5. Saucy secrets: Most people claim NOT to eat leftovers. I beg to differ! Has anyone ever eaten biryani the next day and complained?! If your family is fussy about food, prepare just enough for one meal. You might also want to consider using last night’s left-over roast chicken for your kid’s school sandwiches.
6. Out of the closet: Ladies, ladies… I know - this is a weak spot for most of us. Rule number one: if you haven’t worn it in the past six months, it’s highly unlikely that you’re ever going to use it! Consider giving things that you don’t use (that are still in good condition), to charity. And if you want to be really creative and make a quick buck, consider a jumble sale in your front yard. (Source: http://productivemuslim.com)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2013 on page no. 20

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