by K.T.Lynn (in collaboration with Team AYEINA)

“…And to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way…” [Quran – 3:97]

The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam — mandatory for every Muslim that is physically and financially able to make the journey. The pilgrimage runs a course of five days, the 8th to the 12th of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic (Hijri) calendar.

As mentioned in Al Arabiya News: “Unless you are a Saudi resident, undertaking Hajj is not cheap. Some experts say that costs have risen dramatically in recent years from countries such as the U.S. and UK. Expect to pay from around $3,000 to $10,000, or even more if you live in a country very far away from the kingdom”.

Last year, I was blessed with the opportunity to be one of the three million pilgrims that participated in the spiritual journey of a lifetime. Since I was a resident of Saudi Arabia, budgeting for Hajj wasn’t very difficult – the rates for residents are relatively inexpensive. Traveling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj from outside the Kingdom is very expensive and requires a budget plan.
 

 

Five Tips on Saving for Hajj

In order to make planning for Hajj 2023 easier, I used the I Will Insha’Allah Productivity Journal. Whether it is your first or fifth Hajj, a budget plan can improve your productivity and hope insha’Allah. Here are five tips on budgeting for Hajj:
 
 

1) Review your current situation & set a realistic goal

Take a look at your cash flow and expenses from the past year. Dig deep. You should collect all bank account and credit card statements, loan documents, and tax filings to paint a complete picture of your financial situation. There are numerous financial applications available to track your spending. If you aren’t tech savvy, stick to an Excel spreadsheet or simply pen and paper. Once you have assessed your financial situation, you can begin to plan for the future. 

Ask yourself the following questions

•How much debt do I have? (Since you are not allowed to do Hajj on loans and your debts should be clear before traveling for this journey).
•What is the total worth of my assets?
•How much do I spend on housing, transportation, food, entertainment, etc?

 

2) Set your long term financial target

In order to budget for Hajj, you will need to have a long term monetary target. Research local Hajj vendors and travel agencies to get an estimate on the price of Hajj travel packages. Add an extra 10% for travel essentials, unexpected costs, charity, and souvenirs. For eg: a meal for one may be around 10-40 saudi riyals ($3-$10 usd approx.) depending on what type of food you have), haircut/head-shaving is 20-30 SAR approx., sacrifice is 400-500 SAR approx. etc. (Although with any decent package, your food during hajj/aziziyah/mina days will be included, but it’s best to inquire such things from the travel agent you are considering to purchase the package from).

Automate your bill payments to avoid paying costly late fees. Automate savings deposits to build up an emergency fund. Don’t wait until you have cleared all debt to start saving. An emergency fund will prevent you from going into further debt when emergencies or unplanned expenses occur. To keep yourself from spending your savings, put it into an account separate from your daily banking. The old adage “Out of sight, out of mind” rings true here. Prioritize wiping out debt, especially debts dealing with interest.

“…Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden interest. So whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with Allah . But whoever returns to – those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein.” [Quran – 2:275]

Free budgeting printables/Financial Planners

Set your target and commit. Long term goals can seem daunting, but don’t fret. You don’t need to scale an entire mountain in a day. A budget plan will show you how to reach your goals, step by step. Following are some of the free printable planners for budgeting to help you begin in shaa Allah:

1) Family Binder Budgeting Printables by cleanandscentsible

2) Budget Binder by iheartorganizing

3) Family Budget Worksheet by amomstake

4) Financial Planner by pinchalittlesavealot

5) Printable Budget Sheets by printablecrush

3) Reduce your essential expenses

In order to save your desired amount, you will need to free up some of your money. You can do that by increasing your cash flow, reducing expenses, or a combination of both. The first step to do this is to take stock of your needs. A good rule of thumb to follow is to pay no more than 50% of your take home pay towards essentials. Essential expenses include four main categories: housing, transportation, groceries and utilities. If you are spending more than 50% on housing, transportation, groceries, or utilities – examine ways to cut back.

Food

One of the most fundamental ways to reduce your food budget is to stop eating in restaurants or ordering take out. Cooking at home is healthier and less expensive. Meal planning is another easy way to reduce waste and food expenses. Plan meals around what is on sale, local, and in season. You can also enlist other family members or even neighbors to purchase groceries wholesale and split the cost. If you have additional time, you can also plant a garden to grow inexpensive produce. Get creative to reduce your food costs. 

“A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it), then one third of food, one third for drink and one third for air.” [Ibn Majah]

Housing

Meeting your goals requires sacrifice. Depending on your financial situation, your housing expenses are taking a large bite out of your necessities budget. Don’t get sucked into “keeping up with the Joneses”. It isn’t necessary to own gigantic houses or rent a luxury apartment. Don’t delay your spiritual obligations because you are trying to keep up appearances. There is nothing wrong with downgrading to a smaller home, moving to a cheaper area, or even sharing a living space with other family members.

Transportation

Depending on your lifestyle, reducing your transportation costs can be quiet simple. The following are small changes you can make to reduce transportation costs:

•Walk or cycle instead of drive (also good for your health – physical fitness is an important factor during Hajj), Use public transportation and/or exchange car with bad fuel economy for a more efficient model.

Utilities

Small changes do add up and make a difference in the long run. There are countless ways to make your lifestyle more energy efficient and green. Utilities are variable based on your local area and household amenities. Check out the article on LifeHacker for ideas on how to reduce your energy use.

4) Reevaluate your “wants” and use coupons

According to common financial wisdom, a maximum of 30 percent of your take home pay should be used towards discretionary spending. Spending categories included in this part of your budget includes expenses like entertainment, your cell phone plan, and clothing. Reducing this part of the budget requires trading your current wants for your long term goals. Your budget will determine how many “wants” you can afford – but the more you trade in, the faster you will reach your target. You might want the latest smartphone, the highest internet speed, or the newest brand name sneakers, but do you need them? Are you willing to sacrifice the luxury so you can go to hajj? An experience of a lifetime!
“O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.”  [Quran – 7:31]

Coupon Sites to Save Money

From coupons for utilities to restaurants, basic necessities to luxury items etc. – you can look into following options – Groupon (You can see the list of all the countries Groupon operates in), FreeShipping, Coupons, RetailMeNot, AmazonCouponsSlickdeals, BeFrugal etc.

(you may also consider hand-me-downs or pre-loved items to save the cost)

5) Create your short term budget plan and/or increase the cash flow

Once you have determined how much money you need to save, you can divide the total by the amount of time you have. For example, let’s say you’ve estimated that it will cost your family $18,000 to attend Hajj 2020 from North America. Add an additional 10% ($19,800) and round up to $20,000. You have 4.5 years left to reach your goal, but probably want to have the money at least six months in advance. That gives you four years to save $20,000. $20,000 divided by 48 months = about $417 a month. This means that if you are to attain your goal, you need to free up $417 a month and place that into your Hajj savings.
 
Depending on your situation, slashing this much money from your monthly expenses might not be realistic. If that is the case, don’t despair. Part of budgeting for Hajj is about reducing expenses. The other part of the equation is increasing your income. Increasing cash flow can be more difficult than reducing expenses, but can significantly increase your ability to save. Remember that any change, large or small gets you closer to where you want to be and each effort is rewarded for such beautiful intention.
•Ask for a raise from your current position.
•Find a position with a higher salary.

•Join a freelance network such as Upwork, Fiverr, Toptal, People per hour, Freelancer, Tutor and Guru etc.

•Provide services in your spare time such as child care etc.
•Sell assets or valuables that you may not need.
•Take a second/seasonal job.
•Get paid to take online surveys – for eg: SurveyMonkey, Hiving, OpinionOutpost, BrandedSurveys etc.
 
Eliminate what you can live without. Reduce the frequency and amount of the things you can’t. Substitute inexpensive options when you can. Before you buy something, ask yourself “Does this feed my soul?”. If the answer is no, imagine yourself making dua in front of the Kaaba. Visualize yourself amongst pilgrims on the Day of Arafat. Remember your inspiration for creating your Hajj budget plan. Use it to stay on track. Commit and you will, in shaa Allah.


Author’s Bio: K.T. Lynn is an American Muslim convert. She is a copywriter by day, and a novelist by night. Her hobbies include reading, scuba-diving, and traveling. She aims to promote cross-cultural understanding through her work, which has been featured in SISTERS, Blue Abaya, Saudi Life, and Productive Muslim. You can read about her misadventures at www.ktlynn.com and follow her on Instagram @author_ktlynn and Facebook @faithisgreaterthanfear

6 COMMENTS

  1. I know it’s off topic but with the recent announcement that Saudi will issue ‘holiday’ visa I wonder if that will eventually make Hajj more affordable. Umrah is ok, if you are not going during Ramadan but Hajj costs allot.

  2. performing the pilgrimage is mandatory for every Muslim. therefore the process to achieve the necessary effort. this article is very important for us to understand that the pilgrimage can be realized.

  3. Going for hajj sure requires a lot of planning and this articles enlists some really good tips on how to plan ahead. If we don’t plan for it we will never be ready for it. JazakAllahu khair Sister for a really useful article.

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