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Keeping Up With The Jamals

Navin Siddiqui advises how we can enjoy ‘Eid on a budget, instead of worrying that we can’t afford to splash out.

“‘Eid is coming and I’m stressing about where I will get the money for it.”


I overheard someone say this and it didn’t seem odd at first, but for some reason it stuck with me, and the more I thought about it, the stranger it started to sound.  ‘Eid is a celebration of our beautiful faith and our accomplishments as an ummah.  The moment it becomes a source of misery and financial distress, it is no longer ‘Eid.


So, what would cause this kind of distress around ‘Eid time?  You can say it is financial stress from having to spend money that you might not have, the social expectations of having the best outfits and accessories, throwing the best parties and giving the best gifts, or the conventional expectation of giving money to the younger ones. I would sum this up into one phrase, ‘Keeping up with the Jamals’ (better known as ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’).  This pertains to evaluating one’s standard of living in relation to one’s peers. This is not to be mistaken for envy or hasad, but it can be a stepping stone towards it.


How do we turn this around, and make our ‘Eid the fabulous celebration it is meant to be?  It all starts with intent and purpose. Make an intention that you want to enjoy ‘Eid, regardless of any limitations you may encounter. Renew your purpose of celebrating ‘Eid and get to the core of what this occasion really means. You’ll want to follow that up with some sincere du’a to Allah (SWT), to show your gratitude for all the blessings that you have been given,  and to make this your best ‘Eid yet.


Is it possible to have a fantastic ‘Eid on a budget?  If you’re in debt or are monitoring your expenses this year, don’t let that get in the way of your fun. There is no secret trick to it: here is how to celebrate ‘Eid without breaking the bank.


Budget and Plan
If you have a goal, you need a plan in order to reach that goal. If your goal is not to overspend for ‘Eid, then you need to work out your budget, and plan your expenses. And not just in your head, write it down. The act of sitting down with a pen and paper (or your computer) is very beneficial and will allow you to come up with a realistic, focused and workable plan.  Never underestimate the value of a well-planned budget.


Crafty Outfits
The social and conventional expectation is that you will be purchasing a brand new outfit just for ‘Eid. This, however, is not a requirement. Instead of buying new, see what you can find in your closet that you haven’t worn in a long time. An old outfit can be made shiny and new with inexpensive accessories. Are you good with a sewing machine? You could alter something in your closet to make it look new. Got a friend who is the same size as you? Swap clothes with her and experience a whole new wardrobe. Last, but not least, visit your local thrift stores and see what gems you can pick up there.


Party Down
Are you on party duty this year? Get creative and find out all your venue options.  Most condominium apartments come with a party room that the tenant can reserve for a partly refundable fee. If you live in a house, then invite people into your home. Keep the decor simple and easy; it’s ‘Eid and people are probably more interested in eating than your centrepieces.  Do a potluck so that all the food doesn’t come out of one pocket, and everyone gets a wide variety of meals to choose from.


Gift Giving
This is my favourite part because I love to make stuff myself and you can get really creative when making your own gifts. A handmade card that is nicely done will go a long way as a gift on its own. Got a way with words?  Why not write a poem for someone as a gift? Scrapbooking is a hot favourite with young girls and it can be very cheap and easy to put together nice photos with some colourful paper cut outs. Are you skilled at a craft?  Use that to your advantage and offer it as a gift. A visit to your discount store can be an opportunity for you to stock up for gift baskets that you can put together yourself (everyone likes to open up a basket of goodies).


This ‘Eid, make sure your focus is on fun, enjoyment and gratitude. These attributes are truly contagious and will enhance your celebration as well as that of those around you. If you have been smart about your money management throughout Ramadhan and ‘Eid, you will have built a foundation on which to form your financial plan for the rest of the year. Don’t let go of smart money management once you have started, it is a handy skill to have and will, insha Allah, make your finances much easier to handle.


Navin Siddiqui is the founder of UnDebtMe.com and the author of ‘Eid On A Budget. She believes that it is possible for anyone to change their finances (or even their life) for the better, if they want it badly enough. She is looking forward to making some positive changes in her own life during and around this blessed month of Ramadhan. You can follow her at facebook.com/NavinSiddiqui