Friday, 1 April 2022

Keeping your wealth in check during the busy season

How to keep your money in check during the busy season: This year, Ramadan — and Sham El Nessim, and Eid al-Fitr — arrive in the midst of a global squeeze on prices. The Russia-Ukraine war has exacerbated inflationary pressures, sending food and commodity markets sky high — and we’ve inevitably been feeling the impact here at home. In a time of back-to-back crises, it’s perhaps more important than ever to maximize our joy and generosity this Ramadan. Here’s the lowdown on how to go about celebrating even as household budgets come under strain.

Did you — like everyone we know — bulk buy your groceries ahead of Ramadan? Worry not if you haven’t. Contrary to popular belief, bulk buying can actually cost you more in the long run. When buying in bulk, we’re likely not assessing our actual usage of the product but only the per-unit price. This can translate into a higher purchase price, Investopedia suggests, when you end up buying too much to be able to use before it expires or goes bad, or when you simply end up getting tired of the brand and feel the need to switch it up.

Our advice? Divide your Ramadan grocery shop in two. Once you’ve used up your groceries for the first two weeks, you can better assess your needs for the rest of the month. Many supermarkets keep items on sale well into Ramadan. Another top tip: Do some couch-based research and check out supermarkets’ websites to compare prices before you grab your shopping bags.

If you’re indulging in some festive sparkle, consider reusing old decorations instead of buying new ones (or better yet, think DIY). We’re bombarded by lanterns, patterned linens and string lights at pretty much every turn these days, but try to resist. Ramadan decorations can be recycled, and can also be really simple to make yourself using things you have on hand (an activity that kids will love). Try making lanterns out of cardboard, a Ramadan Kareem banner, or an Islamic lantern garland.

Want to give sadaqah but not sure where? When it comes to giving back, we’re bombarded with advertisements throughout the month, and it can leave us a tad overwhelmed and confused. One of the most popular — and simple — ways of giving back is by donating food packs to less privileged families.

Not all food packs are created equal: While food packs are great, we advise you pay attention to the contents. Many food packs are heavy on fat and carbs, but miss protein and essential nutrients. Search for distributors that offer nutritionally balanced packs that provide families with realistic options to make healthy and well-rounded meals.

Spread the love when it comes to giving back. Make sure to divide your donations among various families and organizations. You can also consider donating things other than food and money: Clothes, and staple household items like appliances and cleaning supplies, are also much needed.

Ramadan is rarely kind to our wallets — but this year we’re getting a triple whammy of holidays. This is traditionally a time where people buy more food, dine out more frequently, and donate more than other times of the year. But make sure you leave a little something left over for the raft of long weekends coming fast on the heels of the holy month, including Sham El Nessim and Sinai Liberation Day in the last week of April. We’re sure you, like us, will be dying to get out of Cairo after the long holiday drought we’ve had the past couple of months, so don’t forget to budget for your vacation plans.

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