Ramadan on a budget

Ramadan is almost upon us and families are now preparing for the Holy Month. But how many have considered how much they are going to spend during this special time? Here’s some tips on how to budget your way successfully through the Holy Month:

How to spend wisely this Ramadan

Food:

Ramadan and Eid bring many blessings, as it is traditionally a time when families get together to share special meals. At both iftar and suhoor, more quantities of food can be consumed making groceries not only the most necessary expense but also the most necessary during the Holy Month. Consider different ways to manage that expense. These can include:

1. Shopping at a budget supermarket rather than your favourite location, which, though closer to home, will significantly increase the bills on big shopping loads this Ramadan. For example, the Union Co-op  would be a good option for large quantity shopping

2. Avoiding your favourite branded items in favour of cheaper options

3. Buying locally grown fruit and vegetables that have not travelled a long distance and have a price that reflects that journey

4. Not shopping in the middle of the day when your hunger and thirst levels are at their peak. Craving food and drink can make shoppers spend more as they often buy more-expensive processed foods that will instantly satisfy their cravings rather than raw ingredients to make nutritional meals more suited to this period.

As well as eating in, you will also eat out at the plethora of iftar and suhoor buffets available across the UAE. This is your chance to look for deals such as two for one offers on dining available in voucher books and deal-sharing websites. Also, if you’re taking the kids, you may want to select dining outlets where the kids eat for free.

Decorations: 

It’s not just the cost of the ingredients families need to consider during Ramadan. Some people like to freshen up their table decorations and home decor to make it inviting for visitors but all of this comes at an expense.

For budget accessories, start with your tabletop. Head to your nearest Home Centre or Zara Home store and invest in some new china, glassware and serveware. The Snake dessert set from Zara Home, for example, consists of a matching coffee cup and plate – perfect for serving up a hot brew and some dates – and will only set you back AED 80.

Strategically positioned tea lights will transform your table, so keep your eye out for some pretty holders. Ikea will be offering special weekly Ramadan offers on a host of dining-related products from July 10, so make sure to head down to the Yas Island or Dubai Festival City stores to check out what’s on sale. Another sure-fire and ultra-affordable way to brighten up any interior is by investing in some new scatter cushions. Kas Australia offers a range of cheap and cheerful options and is currently offering 50% off on selected items.

Gifts:

Eid Al Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and this festive celebration comes with more family gatherings and gift giving. While giving generously to family and friends can be enjoyable, you need to make sure you don’t overspend. The best solution is to plan ahead. Dubai Summer Surprises, and the numerous discounts associated with the shopping extravaganza, is on now – so stock up on gifts while the prices are low.

Also be wary about how you buy all these gifts. Paying for them all on a credit card, which you may not be able to pay off, is not the best way to finance the festival. Unpaid credit bills incur hefty fees making the cost of that gift far higher than the original price.

While many companies pay employees early to help them cover the cost of Eid, this could leave you short the next month so try to spread the cost as much as possible. If it’s going to be too expensive, it might be worth considering a more-secure borrowing method – a personal loan with fixed repayments to help you spread the cost over a period of time.

Fashion and beauty treatments:

Eid is also a time when families like to dress up and look their best. For the latest fashion bargains, head to the shops now to take advantage of all the DSS fashion sales taking place. Alternatively try the outlet mall or bulk buying fashion sites that offer fantastic deals on designer labels.  For beauty and spa treatments, take advantage of voucher books and deals on deal-sharing websites that offer fantastic discounts. Spagenie.ae also keeps tabs on all the spa offers available.

Holidays:

Many people go away during Eid Al Fitr and because Eid falls in the middle of the summer this year, all the hotels have special summer rates anyway making staying away much cheaper than any other time of year. Again watch out for deals in voucher books and deal-sharing websites. If you are going overseas, book those flights now, use your air miles and keep tabs on your favourite airline’s offers. And secure a travel insurance policy before you go to ensure you are protected while you are away. You won’t want any travel mishaps to spoil your trip.

* Prayer times have been calculated using Yahoo Technologies.