Ramadan can see your spending spiral out of control, but a little discipline and some clever advance planning can keep your finances on track during the holy month
As we saw last year, the pandemic can intensify what is already a challenging month in many ways. With restaurants and shops permitted to stay open this Ramadan, it can be tempting to create a sense of normalcy by spending on lavish iftar buffets and expensive gifts. Budgets can go haywire in a normal Ramadan, but the psychological effects of living – and fasting – through a pandemic can easily see expenses spiral out of control.
But rather than blow a hole in your budget this month, why not focus on the essence of the holy month instead?
Simplicity goes hand in hand with spirituality in Ramadan. Remembering that key tenet can help you keep your budget in check, while empathizing with those who are less fortunate. Here are some approaches to consider.
Create a Ramadan spending plan. Ramadan is marked in special ways, so it’s important to realize that your regular monthly budget may not necessarily apply to the holy month. Instead, create an itemized list that incorporates groceries, clothes, gifts, and entertainment such as streaming services, and then set aside a weekly budget for these items. Include every member of your household to arrive at a realistic idea of the amount you will need to set aside.
Add 15 per cent to your budget. Last-minute purchases are unavoidable at the best of times, so why should Ramadan be any different? But when you plan for these expenses in advance, you don’t have to draw on your savings or borrow money to pay for them. So, set aside an additional 15 per cent of the Ramadan fund for this reason.
Use a little psychology. Tell your family that any unscheduled purchases will come out of this 15-per-cent fund – but that if they manage to make it to the end of the month without dipping into it, the entire amount will be donated to an Islamic charity of their choice in their names. At the very least, everyone will think twice before splurging.
Make a shopping list: Once you’ve planned all your purchases, write out a shopping list and stick to it. Buy your groceries in small amounts on a weekly basis, instead of buying kilos of food in advance. In the age of 24/7 supermarkets, you can always order something if you run out – and as a bonus, you won’t be left with unused pantry staples for months afterwards.
Shop online – in non-fasting hours. Take the psychology one step further and shop online for groceries and iftar meals in advance – and preferably in non-fasting hours. We usually spend more when we’re hungry, especially on food. Not only do you avoid over-ordering – and with it, wastage – but planning an iftar delivery the previous day can also build a delicious sense of anticipation.