Ramadan is expensive. There, I said it!
Just like Christmas, Ramadan is an opportunity for Muslims to overspend on things we don’t need and can’t afford, give too many expensive gifts, and prepare way too much food. But unlike Christmas, whose festivities last one day of the year (two or three at most) we go all in. Thirty-three days of food and drink (yes I know we are fasting but let’s be real here, it all goes down in the PM) and an Eid that lasts three additional days is a marathon for anybody’s pocketbook.
Nobody wants to go into the month of Quran and fasting, and come out fat and broke. So I did myself a favor last year and this year, as I order my Ramadan decorations (yup, I put up lights and everything) I am glad I did.
I opened a Ramadan Savings Account.
It was a simple account, I started with $100 and then added $5-10 every week through an automatic withdrawal. For the cost of what I spent on Starbucks, I can buy Eid dresses, decorations, give some charity and pay Zakat without sweating my bottom line.
Now it may be too late for you to start an account for this year. But what about the next Eid? What about next Ramadan?
Remember how I said Ramadan always seemed to sneak up on me and catch me unprepared? Well, it doesn’t have to be like that. I don’t have to be cash strapped when it comes time to give gifts or sadaqa or just take my family out for iftar.
If you are like me, saving is not your thing, so I am going to tell you how I did it and, as always, this same principle can be used for anything in your life.
- Open an account at a bank separate from your regular bank (like an online account) or purchase a reloadable visa card. If the money is easily accessible to you, you are more likely to use it when you see something cute. But if it is hard to get to, you are more likely to restrain yourself.
- Set an auto deposit. Decide what you can afford every week/month and then make sure that money is deposited before you have a chance to think about it. If I stopped to think about it, I can find all kinds of uses from an extra $10 a week. But if it disappears before I have a chance to touch it I don’t mind.
- Increase the amount as needed in order to meet your goal. So my auto-deposit was only for a few dollars, but I would regularly add additional money to the savings account. If I had an extra $100 in my regular account $30 went into savings. I had a number in my head that I was trying to reach and a deadline. Watching the numbers get closer and closer to my goal was a great motivator.
What about this year? Well, you can cut costs this year so that you can have a pleasant Ramadan without over-spending.
- find free activities to do with your kids, like a family friendly Netflix marathon or craft projects
- instead of giving money as sadaqa, give your time and service
- keep your meals simple, limiting the consumption of delicacies and meats to once or twice a week
- if you can sew, try making your Eid clothes instead of buying ready made ones
- two words: POT LUCK…get with some other families and arrange potluck dinners instead of going out to eat
- limit eid gifts to one or two per person
- make your own decorations, or repurpose generic decorations for Eid
I hope this has helped you. If you are following along with me, don’t forget to like, comment and share. And for your viewing (and budgeting ) pleasure here is a video from How To Adult.