By Asad Safuan Ab Maleki @ Ab Malik
As we are approaching Hari Raya Aidilfitri, consider these helpful tips if you are among those still struggling to manage their own cash flow as we adjust to life alongside Covid-19.
Aidilfitri 2022 is the first time Malaysians are celebrating this event with only minor restrictions thanks to Covid-19 which is still troubling the world since it’s emergence in late 2019.
With that in mind, we can expect plenty of excitement for this coming Aidilfitri! The big question is how do we manage our cashflow so that we are in control of our spending, without detracting from the thrill of enjoying the celebrations?
#1. Know Your Holiday Spending Limits Before You Spend
Budgeting is a way to set limit on your expenses and still enjoy the season. Here are some articles that can walk you through the process.
7 Steps to Successful Budget-Setting for Couples
Is Preparing for the Holidays Part of Your Savings Plan?
6 Steps to Get Your Finance Ready for the Holidays
For example, you may include your yearly holiday expenses in your financial planning by setting a realistic amount, for example RM5000. Break it down into your monthly savings portion e.g. RM400 – RM450 to be set aside every month specifically as a holiday/celebration fund. As the holiday date approaches, tally how much you have been able to park aside and manage your spending based on that.
Knowing how much you have before you spend is definitely a fundamental step in staying in control of your finances.
#2. Make Your ‘Naughty or Nice’ List
As an Islamic celebration, it’s important to recognize the distinction between actions that are wajib (compulsory), sunnah (advisable to do), or simply an adat (a practice, a custom) in our habits and practices for Hari Raya Aidilfitri, many of which were passed down over generations. Some examples of things to ponder about include:
Moreh (the practice of eating after performing tarawih prayer)
Duit raya (money given out to mark the celebration. Not to be confused with sedekah or giving charity)
Purchasing new furniture, curtains, carpets, etc.
Buying new clothes
Familiarize yourself with identifying what are categorized wajib, sunnah, or adat can help you make better decisions for yourself and your family when money is tight.
Make a list to include all the items that are wajib and those which you feel strongly about. It is also recommended to then include other expenses that you anticipate would be appropriate during the festival. For example:
Food / catering cost
Put an estimate of how much you are intending to spend for each item and total them up. You may also want to consider having some “backup” money set aside in case you missed out any item or encounter any unexpected situations.
#3. Be Realistic About Your Budget
When it comes to financial planning, this is a very crucial point. Each and everyone of us are in a different condition. The example of RM5000 allocation for festival might not suit everyone out there. Adjust, adjust, adjust!
If you face social pressure to unnecessarily spend on status symbols, bear in mind how much you would like to be in control of your own finances. It’s easy for others to tease, but in the end they are not the ones paying the bills.
If you feel strongly about it, then it is better to focus on how you can save more for future celebrations and let it be that this coming celebration will be a lower-key one for you.
#4. Become a Point or Coupon Collector
Sales aren’t the only way to get great deals on the gifts you want for your friends or family. Before you shop online, perform a quick web search for coupon codes for your favourite online stores. Before you shop in local stores, comb through the coupons you received in your mailbox. While you search through the flyers, make sure to compare shops for the item that you’re interested in.
Savings can happen just by keeping your eyes on for discount and great deals.
#5. Give the Gift of Your Time
Our parents (or other family members and friends) might love nothing more than a visit from you. Another idea? Writing up a “free night of babysitting” card for your family members with young children, or “good for a home-cooked meal” certificate for your aunt that can be used when the time is right.
#6. Build Better Spending Habits
Now this is a tough one. It is not necessarily important only for festive season. But this habit needs to be cultivated from young age.
Each and every one of us has been exposed to different ways of upbringing which definitely has its effect on our practices or habits of doing things. Do our part by starting NOW by showing good examples to our children or if you don’t have one, you may be setting up examples for the people around you.
#7. Decorating Your House with Used/ Discounted Items
Be creative by coming up with an idea of decorating your home. Make full use of the internet by searching on what you would like to decorate. Whether by utilising whatever you already have at home (recycling unused items) or by buying discounted or used items and then redecorate them to your liking.
You can also get your children involved in this project and it helps you bonding better and get to teach your younger ones about money matters in the same time. E.g. – Money tree, ketupat which is nicely braided with different colours of ribbons, small wooden traditional Malay house made by ice cream sticks (diorama) etc.
#8. Organize Group Volunteering or Spring Cleaning
Plan a spring cleaning at your parents or grandparents house. If there is nothing much to do, you could then initiate a small gotong-royong at your neighbourhood or graveyard area (as one of the customs of the Malay Muslims is to go and pay tribute and say prayers at the graveyards in remembrance of those who had passed away).
You might want to consider doing this instead of organising open house or party every single time you go back for Raya.
#9. Share the Cost of Your Celebration
Prior to the festive season, check if friends or family are interested in joint purchases. Most of the times, buying things in bulk are cheaper compared to buying it individually.
#10. Start Your Shopping Early
Do not wait until the last minute (approaching festival days) before doing the shopping. Unless for certain items which would only be available closer to the festival date like food.
Look out for the mega sales or month-end sales period to get the best out of your money every time you want to buy something.
Practice moderation in each and everything you do especially when it comes to expenses – to talk about from the financial point of view. You may do what you like with your money if you have managed or planned it properly ahead. Talking about financial planning, it always boils down to you cash flow. Do you really know whether you have surplus or deficit? If you don’t, then it is best seek advice from the experts – licensed financial planner. They could help you analyse your cash flow and see what is/are missing in your own financial planning. You may also seek their unbiased advice on how to go about pertaining to you financial goals.
How do you plan to shop for your Hari Raya celebration?
About the author
Asad kicked off his career in financial services industry by becoming a Takaful and Unit Trust Consultant for 5 years. After that, he decided to make a career advancement from becoming an agent to advisory approach by pursuing Islamic Financial Planning (IFP) certification in 2021. He realised that his true passion is helping individuals to improve their personal finances situation by giving a holistic and unbiased advice. As an Associate Financial Planner with Wealth Vantage Advisory, he received full training and coaching from senior financial planners in the firm to equipped him better with consultation and financial planning skills. Asad wanted to make sure as Financial Planner, he can help his clients to understand their current financial situation, financial goals and risk profile before developing a full financial planning plan for them.