This subject is very close to my heart. So, when a follower on Instagram Yumna Sardar asked me to write on finance, I was thrilled. Dil ki baat kardi jenab!
How I realized my plight:
When I was hit on the head with it!
Actually, all my life, my husband asked me to take interest in his files etc. I’d say, ‘you are there for it!’ (Meaning, ‘why should I bother my pretty little head with it?’ He was more fit than me, and had a great head for numbers. Yes, he remembered every imaginable number – including number plates of cars under him in his unit! So, I knew I was in competent hands.)
– So, when he suddenly, died of cancer, I had Rs.1000 only, and literally a thousand bills! That’s how I was hit on the head with it.
- Meanwhile, at that time, I was enrolled in my MBA… When I failed twice in my Financial Accounting paper, (finally passing in my third attempt, thanks to Irfan Ahmed, my class fellow.) While I was among the toppers in other subjects, in this subject I failed. So, I’m really talking from experience.
- I was at zero point. My real life was a financial mess too.
- I faced the horrific challenges that only total lack of money can bring. Especially at a time, when you need it the most. For instance, husband dying of cancer, and house construction needing finishing touches, and money ‘locked’ by out-laws, and court cases, as cherry on the top! (So, don’t think, ‘how does she know?’ Believe me, I know! )
Law of the Worlds:
- Very early on, I learnt, that you get exploited by others, when they know you lack funds.
- You get marginalized by society, people downplay your efforts in all fields.
- People believe they can take what is yours, because you can’t defend yourself, or your things.
So, how did I survive?
- My faith in Allah never wavered. I was sure He had chosen me for better times, this was the ‘exercise’ part of it. So, I remained firm. I was able to smile, and laugh – something my Waliya taught me – I knew I was in the Best Hands, anyways. (Yes, I cried in private while praying to Him.)
- The moment the ground started slipping from under my feet, I looked up at Him. I made a pact with Him, I’ll ask no one for help except Him. So, He did.
- You must be wondering why my parents didn’t help. My dad was going through a financial crisis of his own, that’s why.
- Also, I was too proud to ask anyone for help. I believe, that after eighteen years of age, we have to manage for ourselves. Our parents have already done enough for us.
- My family, close friends and total strangers, were like His angels in plain clothing. They helped me from sources I could never have imagined. Total strangers came out of the blue helping me in ways, I’d never thought possible.
Learn Finances properly:
- My travel bags have been heavy due to books: My trips to USA had me reading about finances. (I was already realizing how weak I was.) So when the crisis hit me, I was able to make sound decisions at the right times. I used to laugh at myself for choosing these books when I hadn’t a penny. But I went ahead, because my heart felt like it. Only Allah knew how much I needed this information.
- Grab and read all about finance, anything you can digest : Read: Suzie Ormans’ books, as many as you can get your hands on. Specially her latest ones. One of her best is Women and Money. Rich Dad, Poor Dad, is amazing, and you need to read it several times to digest it fully. Napolean Hill’s Grow Rich with peace of mind, is the sum total of this millionaires’ life lessons on money. (It is pretty much the Islamic methodology of it, i.e. to not gain it through exploitation of others, or through games of chance, to use it to serve people, and get it through serving people too.)
- Watch videos on YouTube about these books, if reading is a strain, watch videos on the subject. Study Financial Accounting and other such subjects, and see how you can apply the principles in your own life.
- Listen to podcasts on the subject. (You can get Suzie Orman’s also!) I’ve watched amazing weekly programs on television in USA of this brilliant expert, who can help you at all levels. She says, that you need to spend an hour daily in sorting out your finances.
- Attend workshops on finance, even if you can’t understand much, one day you will.
- Pinpoint your own bad habits: You must know why you got where you are, by taking full responsibility.
- Learn from your tough times. If you don’t do it, and sit comfortable by blaming others and society, then you will never learn, or improve.
My Principles of Finance:
So, Napolean Hill became a millionaire three times in his life. His block buster book Think and Grow Rich made many millionaires too. However, when he found many of them unhappy on their death beds, without family or friends, lonely. He realized that acquiring money is worthless, without peace of mind. That is when in his nineties, he wrote the book Grow Rich with Peace of Mind, with over seventy years of experience with money.
Halal and honestly gained money:
No compromise on that. None. You know when a thing is haram, when it is acquired by lying and cheating others, or when you are taking what does not belong to you. So, keep it legal and honestly earned. Never compromise on principles. Never.
Interest free money:
You can say what you like, I’ve faced the worst financial crisis but never went back to interest based banking. I don’t regret it. I used to keep interest based banking, when I didn’t understand the verses in Quran about it. Afterwards I said my ‘toba’. All subsequent accounts opened have been current, at all levels. In fact recently, I went and closed the ‘savings account’ too. Call me stupid, but this is something between me and my God. He has clearly said, that usury is haram, while profit is halal. Even while living abroad or in other countries, you have the option of having a current account.
Shabnam (name changed for privacy) had been gifted with a National Saving Center saving account benefit of a sizable sum by her parents. However, not believing in interest based investments; she moved the cash out and bought a small plot from it. Her investment has already doubled in value within four years. Now, she was informed, that this National Savings and Behbood isn’t haram, however, her intent was to keep her investment as halal and interest-free as possible.
I know another case in USA where a person named Saad, didn’t buy a property due to the heavy mortgages involved. He lived in rented apartments. When the famous financial crisis occurred, he was among the few who weren’t affected.
Why not interest?
- I’ve watched my parents suffer when they took a loan from the bank of Rs. 300,000/- and that compounded into Rs.15,00,000/- When my father didn’t have sufficient money to build his house in Lahore. I know the prices they paid for it, and the ones’ I’ve paid for it. It isn’t fair to exploit people who are in a weak financial position. But then, it is your own choice whether to take it or not.
- A person working in London, in a call center providing loans has informed me of how much exploitation is done of persons who are already facing financial crisis.
How to survive financially:
Earn your money :
Yes, do a job, from home, or in an office. Have a lifestyle in which you are busy serving others (through your work), staying busy, and having that extra cash to save too. If your pay isn’t that good, have an extra source of income, or keep committees. Control your family and your own spending habits.
Save your money:
Do not waste it, but save it: You need to save first, and then spend the rest of the month on the rest of the money after savings. When you save it, keep it out of your own reach also. Like many people join committees – which is an excellent way to save – and then reinvest it in something else, like shares, or even property. When you get the amount, use it wisely, you haven’t saved all year, and sacrificed to splash it wrongly, ending up again at zero point.
Lead a debt-free life:
Make a pact with yourself to never get into debt. If you have to, then return asap. Make it your priority to return immediately. This applies to whether you borrow from friends, relatives or from a bank. Just leave all else, and return asap.
Enjoy your money:
In fact it is the money which you have used, which is yours. The rest may never be yours anyway. But let’s say, get what you can’t get normally from your extra earnings. In my case, it was gifts, books, travel, and outings with family and friends. Also, I loved getting things to beautify the home, like plants, carpets, curtains or lamps.
Fight for equal financial rights for girls:
- Disparity in pay scales: Realize the fact that today, women do not receive the same pays as men in any department for the same work.
- Property ownership: This is mostly avoided, or totally ignored.
- Inheritance laws are distorted: The fact is that the larger share for males is solely for the added responsibility on them for caring of females in their family, for life; which means to provide food, clothing, education and shelter to the women in the family, specially widows, divorcees and orphans. This aspect is completely ignored by most men today, which is extremely un-Islamic, while the part of usurping her property is followed diligently.
- The point to note here is, that if Shariya Law is important, which it is, then it must be followed in totality. All the rest of the Shariya laws also must be followed first; Especially, cutting of hands for thieves (and corrupt persons – which is theft of the worst kind), capital punishment for murderers, kidnappers and rapists, and lashes for adulterers. Till all that isn’t implemented also, the inheritance law must be done with ijtehad and the portions should be equal for all. This is suggested, because women have to fend for themselves in today’s world. Almost no man is taking care of the women in his family, as per Islamic responsibility. A bill needs to be passed for this immediately till the rest of the shariya laws aren’t implemented too. The present scenario is totally unfair to women, in letter and in spirit of Islam. The present interpretation has weakened women financially. In original Islamic times, Muslim women were the strongest.
- Remember, when you will entrust your rights and control to others, you are bound to suffer. That is what you are doing girls, so wake up.
Invest your savings:
Knowing the state of affairs in present world, and especially in Pakistan, women need to be even more aware of the importance of taking control of their financial planning. Here is where you’ll get tips from Suzie Orman and Robert (of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame) about how to invest it. Best is to invest in property and live on rents. So, your main investment is safe and you are living on the above stuff.
So, give a percentage, that makes it easier to calculate. Give zakat first, and then sadqa too, as and when required, preferably 10 % and least 2.5 %. I’ve heard, that Jews, give 10 % , no wonder they are so rich!
My message to girls:
- You have to prove to your man, that you are capable of handling finances.
- Show your competence in other matters of the household.
- Know your rights and your duties.
- Speak up when your brothers are trying to swindle you out of your share of inherited property.
- If you aren’t good at Financial Planning, get better. Do indulge in committees and savings.
Message for men:
- Help your women understand the fundamentals of finances.
- Trust your wife, mother or sisters in financial planning. Let them participate with the workings. Let them do some of your work too. It will lighten your burden too. This will give them a better idea.
- Be transparent about your financial investments. So they know where they stand.
- Know that whatever Allah has ordained for them, they will have anyway. Isn’t it better if it comes to them with your name to it?
- Be just and fair with your wife, sister and mother, and family members, specially while dealing with inherited property. To keep your property joint with your wife.
So, tell me were these points useful for you? Yes, you knew most of them anyways, but didn’t realize how important they are, for our own well being. Also, you can support your husband achieve your mutual financial goals. Just as he can support you with your goals. Do you have any planning ideas? Do share with me in your comments.
If you follow the above points, you will stay blessed in so many ways. 🙂
Note: All photos provided by author, except last one by Waliya Najib Khan, and one provided by Nadiya Najib.