Monthly Budgeting & Saving

Monthly Budgeting & Saving

Introduction
Allah is really generous and takes care of us in every way. Even if we tried we will not be able to thank Him for his countless blessings. It’s amazing how we live month after month spending away our resources and yet we have enough to survive/afford a luxurious lifestyle; even in this day and age when prices have gone higher than ever before. Whether you are single, married, employed, have a business or even unemployed, it is vital to write down your monthly income and expenses. At the end of every month, you just need to add it all up and find out how much you saved or over-spent. In my Organizing Chaos series on the blog, I had touched this topic previously called Finance and Asset Management. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to read it, here is its link. The reason I am writing on the same topic once more today is because it is extremely important. 

Why
That’s the only way you can:
  • Know where you stand in terms of income and expenses
  • Plan to increase your savings 
  • Save up for a rainy day 
  • Avoid begging others at time of need
  • Be in charge of your financial situation
  • Protect yourself against fraud
  • Keep a record of what happens in your life

When did I start
The day I started my first job, I have been writing down my income and expenses as I saw my parents doing the same. Budgeting justifies my going to work everyday. If I had no idea about my income and expenses, what would be the point of all this hard work? 


Different Methods
I have explained different methods you may use as follows. I have tried almost all of them and I want to recommend number 3, as its the simplest way. 

1. I have tried proper budgeting during my tenure in the UK where I would have different columns for Eat out, Bills, Groceries, travel, car expenses. You keep writing down individual expenses in each column. At the end of the month, you just add up each column and you’ll know exactly how much you have spent on what. However, this way, one needs a huge paper which you can’t fit in a bag and you need time at home to do it. So it didn’t work for me in the long run as I spend most of my days in office. 

2. My husband likes to do his budgeting in his Microsoft Excel sheet on his laptop. However, I feel that a lot of precious time is wasted while turning the laptop on every time for writing every little piece of expense. So honestly, I prefer the traditional paper and pen. My boss has also made me in charge of admin cash handling so for official purpose I use Monthly Excel sheet. 

3. So I have a simplified solution to have a small Hisaab diary in my handbag with a pen. Every time I pay any one money, I make sure I get a receipt from them which I simply tuck into the receipts pocket of my wallet. In office, whenever I get a minute every few days, I take out the receipts and add them in the diary and destroy the receipts. Even when I give Zakat or Sadqa, its added there. Online purchases and bill payments need to be added too. At the end of the month, we just add up all expenses and then see how much we have saved during the month. 

4. One simple solution for those who really can’t keep a diary with them at all times is to have a generalized budgeting sheet for their expenses every month. This way they will write income, fixed and variable costs limits and total saving ideal sheet for every month. 


5. I have seen days when there was really no money even for next weeks groceries. Having seen such hard times in my life, I learned a way to cope. At the start of the month, take 6 envelopes and mark them Groceries, Bills, Eat-outs, Gifts, Shopping and Travel. Now divide the cash and add it in the assigned envelope. Once all income is distributed to envelopes, we have to stay within the limit no matter what. 

6. One way which my ex colleague Madiha uses is an iOS app for monthly expenses. You keep on adding your expenses and at the end of the month, it will display pie charts showing how much of your income, you spent on groceries, bills, eat-outs and shopping. Sounds great but one will have to be sure to back it all up so in case your phone  crashes, you have your monthly budgeting lists safe. 


Planning and saving
We should always live within our means (Chadar dekh k paoon phelanae chahiye). If we realize that we are spending more than our income, we are actually crossing danger zones. We should have a lifestyle in which we don’t ever live on our savings. They are only for emergencies. Also the rule for savings must be that in case we are jobless for a whole year, we should have enough to cater for our expenses for at least one whole year. We should all avoid lifestyles in which we get fancier cars, houses on lease than we can afford. Also stop using credit cards and use only the money which you have. Living on something which isn’t yours is a wrong concept to start with. I have always only been in favor of Debit cards and live and stay within my means. It is vital to save every month even if its only a little bit. Consuming every penny you earn every month is a really depressing place to be. 
Reasons why people avoid budgeting
It surprises me how most of the people around me never check their bank statements, they never record their expenses nor do they have any idea of their account balances. We are all lucky enough to be educated and be able to take control of our lives. If we don’t care and don’t want to care about our resources, we won’t be much different from animals who just eat, drink and sleep their life away. 

  1. One main reason most people don’t do monthly budgeting is because they think its too much of a hassle. It honestly used to be a big hassle to manage along with my 9-6 job and full-time house and outside chores after office. Now I have left all that. All you need for efficient budgeting is to keep a small diary and pen with you in your handbag/laptop bag and add entries every few days. It takes no time at all and is extremely simple. You can easily manage it with your busiest life schedule. You only need to have the system in place. Nothing else. 

  2. Another reason people avoid budgeting is the desire to be care-free. Once I asked a shopkeeper to give me receipt, he was puzzled and asked why would you need a receipt for something so minor. I said ‘Allah hasn’t blessed us so we can just spend it all away. We must manage our resources well’. His reply was ‘Chorein baji! Awein hisab karne se tension hoti hai’. (If you write your expenses, you will get stressed out so better not to’. I don’t agree with such people at all. Its like saying, don’t learn about Islam. If you know, then you will have to act upon it. We must know the truth and be well informed. That’s the first key to leading a successful life. 
Conclusion
Don’t you want to be in-charge of your life? You should not take your financial resources for granted. Everything can change in a split second, no income is guaranteed. The first step towards gratitude for what we have is to know what we have and be accountable for it. 

I’m sure many of you are in control and do write it all down. All those who do write their debit/credit or income/expense, do comment here. Would love to know. Thanks for stopping by. I really hope it helps. 

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3 Replies to “Monthly Budgeting & Saving”

  1. Great post and great tips! I strongly agree with you that keeping track of our spendings is something very important and actually the first step to increase our savings as it causes awareness to where our money is really going.

    I use an app called Evernote to keep record just like your third method only that its digital. I have the app on my mobile as well as on my laptop and I can update eitherway and it syncs automatically. Best part of jotting it all down is that at the at of the month I can analyse whether I spent wisely or not. I also make a wishlist of things I need and can plan when to buy what. Though it might seem unnecessary but it makes me feel so in control!

    I really enjoy reading your blog and it has inspired and helped me to be more organised and productive, especially after my marriage now that I have to manage my own home 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!
    Looking forward to reading more from you <3

    -Zofishan

  2. Dear Zofishan! Thanks for your feedback. It definitely doesn't seem unnecessary, sounds wise. I'm glad you enjoy reading the blog. Love getting feedback from readers like you. It makes all the effort worthwhile. Congrats on your marriage and your own home. I'm sure you must be an amazing wife as organization plays a major role in managing a home. All the best and stay blessed.

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