Hiba continues its series on money management. In the second article of this series, Sumaira Dada, Noorjehan Arif and Aisha Ashraf Jangda talk to people and get tips on how to save money.
Whether you call it using resources responsibly, saving for future generations or just plain pinching Paisas, you know exactly what we are getting at. During the times of rising prices and falling incomes, we all need to look around for little tips on saving money. Here’s what we found.
The first step, in order to reduce the mountain of unpaid bills, is to start cutting off unnecessary expenses. Beena, a homemaker, cut down all the imported cosmetic items she used to buy. She started using local products instead. She also started making clothes for her children out of her old ones, all by herself! Monia, a Quran teacher, states that understanding the Quran helps in controlling her spending habit. On a witty note, she claims that wearing an Abaya helps reduce spending on clothes!
To cut the rising costs of electricity and fuel, you can control the excessive use of air conditioners during summer. Having mint-lemon drinks and wearing cotton and lawn clothes can do wonders in keeping you cooler! In winter, a better idea is to use warm clothes and blankets, which can help you, cut down on the fuel bill and also keep you warm.
The second step is to be creative in fulfilling your needs. One enterprising grandmother used to make quilt blankets out of old cloth pieces! An aunt, who is known in the family for her taste in furniture, reused an antique sideboard from her mother, got it polished and painted so well that now she has placed it in her drawing room. A friend of my mother had a great idea of saving money on buying expensive paintings to put up around the house. She framed the 500-piece cardboard puzzles that her teenage children had discarded and hung them on the walls. Trust me; a framed puzzle usually catches any guest’s eye, just as it caught ours!
The third step is to start saving money with a group of like-minded people. Monia gives the idea of a Voluntary Committee (VC), a pool of funds, where every member puts in a certain amount of money on a monthly basis. At the end of the month, the entire amount accrues to a certain member. This helps to save a significant amount of money with little hassle. This discipline can be taught to teenagers as well, with an adult involved in safeguarding the money.
Quick Advice: Preparing an emergency fund is also very useful, as emergencies such as a job loss, illness, home or auto repairs, can be a significant drain on the finances. Most experts agree that you should keep between three and six months worth of your living expenses set aside in your emergency fund. Evaluation of your situation and the number of children in your family will determine what amount is best for you. Initially, you can begin with Rs.1000 a month and then increase the amount gradually. After a few months, you won’t even notice that Rs.1000 is missing, so you would be able to increase the amount you put aside. The best way to get started would probably be through your bank. Open up a new account in an Islamic Bank, if you currently don’t have one, and begin to save in it. The next step is to get into the habit of making regular deposits into this account. Once you make saving automatic, you won’t even have to think about it.
1) Saving Money at Lunchtime
We’ve all heard the advice to bring lunch from home to save money. But does it mean missing out on eating out with your co-workers?
- Ask a few colleagues, if they’d like to join you in brown bagging lunch. Chances are they’d like to save money, too. You can set up a potluck in the break room or kitchen with everyone’s leftovers or favorite sandwiches. Not only you will get to know your colleagues better, but you will also be able to try a variety of foods. This may lead to recipe-swapping.
- Avoid eating unnecessary and unhealthy snacks like chips, biscuits and ice-cream at work. They may be excellent munchies and you may want a crunch during that afternoon slump, but fresh fruits or vegetables brought along from home are more healthy and lighter on the stomach as well as your wallet.
- Avoid eating out too often. Eating out is extremely expensive, and it leads to overeating, since the sizes of portions are larger than usual. If everyone at work decides to eat out, you could either eat your own food by staying back or simply order the cheapest option on the menu.
2) Saving Money on Commuting
Do you cringe at the price of filling up your gas tank? Consider cutting your fuel costs and saving wear and tear on your car by changing your commute. See if you can:
- Search for an alternative route.
- Avoid rush hours. Go to work half an hour earlier and leave an hour later.
- Carpool with a co-worker or someone who works nearby.
- Take a bus. You may enjoy the time usually used in driving to read or listen to translation of the Quran on your mobile.
- Get your chores done along the way. Pick up grocery items or laundry, while you are coming back from work. This can save you time, money and fuel.
Save Money on Gifts
Have you ever had to give gifts to co-workers, because they’ve just got married or someone has just had a baby? Most organizations have a policy, where you can give a gift to colleagues or customers financed by the department budget. Find out if your organization has such a policy and utilize it, thereby saving your personal income.
Another way to save on gifts is to pass on gifts that you have received from others or be a little creative and design a card or clothes or even bake a cake. You can also pick a bunch of flowers from your garden. In fact, there are endless options of saving money on gifts – all it takes is some creativity and a willingness to pinch Paisas!