With Ramadhan upon us, our minds are focused on the barakah that we want to obtain and all the good deeds that we want to squeeze into our day. Thinking about the amount of self-control that we use during Ramadhan, there is a real opportunity for us to master this discipline on a larger scale. With all the effort we put into making our Ramadhan great, we have the untapped potential to make other aspects of our life great as well. Take the opportunity this Ramadhan to get your personal finances in shape. Utilise this discipline and motivation to get out of debt: in other words, let Ramadhan be your financial manager.
In a world of self-gratification, where society encourages us to say, do and be whatever we want, Islam teaches us control and discipline for self-preservation. Let’s look at this from the aspect of money and transactions. When going to the mall, passing by a store, reading a magazine or observing another person’s possessions, our nature to want what we don’t have comes through like a bolt of lightning. What is it then, that stops us from going out and getting what we want if we can have it? It is our ability to control ourselves and our actions. During Ramadhan this same ability kicks into hyperdrive. Our senses are heightened and our minds are much more aware of what we are doing, thinking and feeling. This is exactly the state that we need to be in if we want to develop good money habits that will stick.
As you are reading this, make the intention right now to get out of debt and manage your money better. Intend to do this for the sake of Allah (SWT). Anything done for the sake of Allah (SWT) has the ability to heighten our awareness, because our love of Allah (SWT) encourages us to do the task well. An intention has to be like a decision that you make with absolute and unwavering certainty. It is not a wish or a dream; it is something you really want to accomplish with focus and determination.
Once you have made your intention, make du’a to Allah (SWT) for this to be easy and attainable, and for the month of Ramadhan to act as a foundation for what you have intended. The ability to ask Allah (SWT) for help and support is a wonderful gift and it holds great powers of motivation for the one who is asking.
Get your financial situation organised before Ramadhan. One common aspect that prevents us from doing this regularly is being in debt. However, what’s interesting is that you feel less in debt once you have organised yourself. Knowing exactly what you owe is more comforting than not knowing, even with large debts. Create a budget for the rest of the year that covers all your major and fun expenses, anticipates surprises, and leaves room for some savings. You also want to cease all impulse purchases immediately; they eat into your budget and you are left scrambling to balance the rest of the month.
Think about where you will spend most of your time during Ramadhan. These are places where you are susceptible to unplanned spending. At work, depending on the season, there might be events that you are asked to participate in that require you to pay. Be wary of these. Also, If you are someone who buys lunch at work often, you will actually save money during Ramadhan. However, the masjid is a great place to spend your money because you are spending in the way of Allah (SWT). Often, larger masjids have shops that you might want to be careful about visiting to prevent impulse purchases. Make sure that your budget includes money that you want to give to the masjid so that you are not making that decision at the last minute. The most risky time is when you are shopping. Studies show that an empty stomach can impact a person’s ability to make decisions. This is especially true when making financial decisions and purchases. Being aware of one’s own tendencies and the surrounding risks can aid in reducing the likelihood of unplanned spending.
Be mindful of your critical spending moments and budget for them before Ramadhan. The month of Ramadhan is such that all good deeds are multiplied. This includes charitable donations and what better time to give sadaqah than in this month? It is common for many to give their annual zakah in this month in addition to Zakat-ul-Fitr. If you are amongst them, then be prepared with your calculations so that you are confident and organised about how much to give.
Ramadhan can be your financial boot camp, if you let it. Monitor and change your financial habits during this month and you are sure to see an improvement. Maintain this practice beyond Ramadhan and before you know it, debt and financial trouble will be a thing of the past, Insha Allah.
Navin Siddiqui is the founder of UnDebtMe.com and the author of ‘Eid On A Budget. She believes that it is possible for anyone to change their finances (or even their life) for the better, if they want it badly enough.
By Navin Siddiqui