Balancing a Budget – A Wife’s Predicament

Balancing a Budget – A Wife’s Predicament

By Umm Isam – Writer and human resource trainer

Maurice Baring once said: “If you want to know what the Lord thinks of money, you have only to look at those to whom He gives it.” I couldn’t help but laugh heartily. Images of many people went through my mind; I feel that most of them are undeserving of the privileges they enjoy, yet there they are rich and rolling in bucks. Who are we to say?

Now, let’s think in terms of our personal relationships and explore whether money really makes a marriage happier.

In At-Tabaqat, it is narrated that Fatimah (rta), the Prophet’s (sa) daughter, used to go hungry for days. On a particular day, Ali (rta) noticed that she looked very pale and weak. He enquired: “What is the matter with you, Fatima?” Fatimah (rta) answered: “It has been three days, and we haven’t found anything to eat in the house.” Ali (rta) asked: “Why didn’t you inform me?” She replied: “On the night of our wedding, my father, the Messenger of Allah (sa), advised me: ‘O Fatima, if Ali brings you something, eat it, and if he does not, do not ask him.’”

How many of us have had to starve for weeks? The gravest challenge that we face is living within our means. And, believe me, if we brace ourselves and our children for some sacrifice, patience, conditioning and a shift in our perception of ourselves and others, we can live within any amount of income. Try living by the following rules and experience the liberation yourself:

  1. Give yourself no option but to live within your income. Looking in all directions for aid and waiting for someone to bail you out (parents, siblings and friends) should be completely unacceptable.
  2. Take pride in your husband’s abilities and what he is able to bring to the family. If you wear a cotton outfit and your sister wears silk, it does not indicate your husband’s incapability to provide for more. Rather, cotton is what Allah (swt) has ordained for you to wear.
  3. Spend time in the company of those who are content with their provisions, rather than those who complain to death. Contentment doesn’t mean being unambitious; it means submitting to Allah’s (swt) will and being happy with it.
  4. Always remember our Prophet (sa) chose poverty over the riches of the world. There is great wisdom behind it. If you own little, you will be accountable for less.
  5. Do not choose a lifestyle that is not supported by your income. It will only cause misery and family rifts; it may also open doors to Haram (impermissible) earnings.
  6. Never befriend people who size you up by the weight of your wallet. Those who love your family will accept you the way you are.
  7. Similarly, although Islam doesn’t allow severing familial ties, you can restrict your family’s involvement with relatives, if you fear falling into Hasad (envy) or a rat race.
  8. Try to stay off TV, magazines and any public places that tempt you and your family with their hypnotizing lures.
  9. Pray to Allah (swt) for a content and peaceful heart that longs to stay happy in whatever circumstances Allah (swt) keeps it in.
  10. Lastly, a widow once shared: “Each morning, it should be enough for every wife to find her husband beside her, breathing. Many women have been deprived of this blessing as their better halves have left them alone in this journey of life.”

A Respectable Household Budget

Regardless of your monthly income, following are some fixed or varied costs that households may incur, along with suggestions to streamline expenditure and release financial hardships, Insha’Allah:

 

Fixed costs
Zakah This is a must. If are eligible, pay Zakah even if you have to sell some of your gold to do so.
Loan repayment To ensure future credibility, pay back your loan in installments as early as possible.
Suggestions to reduce expenses under extreme financial difficulties
House rent Consider sharing space with another married sibling or your parents (if they are independent) to divide the cost.
Home maintenance If the above is considered, maintenance cost can also be divided among family members. Otherwise, keep minimum household stuff to reduce wear and tear.
Salaries of servants Delegate home chores to each family member (including boys), without employing servants and thus saving the cost.
Grocery and eatables Shop as per need. Look out for discounts and bargains. Use local products that are cheaper. Cut down on wasteful expenditure of snacking. Cook less variety of dishes for each meal. Try making more curries.
Utility bills Make all family members understand the importance of conserving resources — electricity, water and gas. Sleep in one room to run one AC for a few hours only. Use energy saving bulbs. Use buckets instead of showers for bathing. Fix all leaking faucets and toilets. Use the geyser only in winters.
Toiletries Dilute concentrated detergents for dish washing by adding water. The same can be done for shampoos. Do not keep out entire bottles of creams, powder and lotions. Ration them according to weeks, especially if you have small children, to prevent wastage.
Schooling Choose your kids’ school for its affordability (not popularity), as schooling consumes nearly 45% of your salary. It should be close to home. Home education is a very sane and popular choice for many moms these days. You can join their network at pakistan-home-education-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. If you are unsure, try with younger kids first to gain confidence.
Fuel Try walking to get groceries or other chores close by. Cycling is also a possible alternative for kids.
Entertainment Go to places that are free of cost, such as the beach, parks and nature walks. Pack a picnic meal to save cost of food, especially beverages.
Sadaqah No matter how much costs pinch, maintain a steady payment of Sadaqah to the deserving, even if it is just Rs.10 per month. Doing so will maximize your Rizq, Insha’Allah.

 

Ideas for generating a support income for your family:

  1. Work from home for a few hours in a skill you have mastered. It could be catering, offering tuitions, writing for publications, computer-based skills, etc.
  2. Pool in a kitty/committee with trustworthy friends, family members, or colleagues, especially for the months in which you need to pay taxes, give children’s school fees, prepare for Eids, etc.
  3. Invest in Islamic institutions that are interest-free.