One of the most difficult things with finances is just getting started. The toughest budget you’ll ever make is your first one. The toughest debt you pay off will be the first one. That first domino has to fall in order to create the momentum to carry you the rest of the way.
Ramadan is a perfect time to get started with your finances. You can trim your miscellaneous expenses because you likely won’t have time to go out shopping or other places like you normally do. Sit down and make your first budget if you haven’t done one as a household. See how much you need to pay in Zakat if you haven’t, and figure out how much you can donate in charity.
This is a month of spiritual rebirth, a month of reconnecting with Allah (swt), reconnecting with the Qur’an, reconnecting with the masjid. It’s a month where we re-establish relationships with friends and family. It’s a month where we set goals for ourselves for the rest of the year. For some of us it’s how much Qur’an to memorize until the next Ramadan, and for some of us it might simply be getting healthier. Finance is no different. Getting your money in order needs a jump start.
Many of us struggle with this. We know we need a budget, but we haven’t found the right time to just sit down with our spouse and figure it out. We haven’t had time to sit down and go through all our bills. We have debts to take care of, but we just haven’t gotten serious about them. We know we need to save more, but we’re too lazy to figure out where to make cuts to save more money.
If you’re in this situation, try doing a financial fast this month. Limit yourself to the bare essentials. Cut your groceries to actually reflect that you’re skipping a meal a day. Hold back the money you normally would have spent going to the mall, going out with friends, eating out, going to the movies, and so on. Make Amazon and eBay haram for the month if you have to.
One of the greatest fears of making a budget, or getting serious about debt is coming to grips with the fact that our income is often not up to par with our lifestyles. We’re scared of the fact that we might not make enough to live the life we want to live. There is a fear to making a budget and having to follow it, because it limits your freedom to spending how you want to spend. This is the month of discipline. This is the time to get it done.
If you haven’t paid zakat, pay your zakat.
Make a budget (read our ebook if you need help getting started with how).
List out your income along with all your expenses. See what you have left and start paying down debt. If you have extra money, think of some creative ways to donate it (this is the month of giving). Keep some money for Eid gifts. The most important part of all of this though is that the money is intentionally spent on these items because it is allocated for it.
The Ramadan fast works because you have money freed up that you normally spend. If you sit down and realize you need $750 a month to pay your bills, but you can only squeeze $600 out of your account – this is the month to take some of the extra and plug the gaps. Use it to set yourself up on a plan that will sustain you for the rest of the year.
This is the time to sit down and plan your goals with your family. Things like hajj, going on vacation, saving for a car, saving for a downpayment on a house, saving to go back to school, and so on. Identify the goals, write them down, and create a plan you can stick with.
There is a lot of blessing in this month, and finances are not excluded from that. Just like everything else though, it needs dua, extra work, some discipline, and follow through. The hardest part is just getting started, let Ramadan be an excuse to start.