Young Muslim Couple Living on a Tight Budget

    Young Muslim Couple Living on a Tight Budget…
(Date of Interview: 03/05/2010)

Brief Intro: This interview was conducted between myself and a Muslim sister (she is a housewife) from Trinidad. She and her spouse live with their three lovely children on a very tight budget and she has decided to share her experiences and the trials they have faced together as husband and wife, for the benefit of others Insha Allah. May Allah(swt) bless her for this charity…Ameen. She has also chosen to keep her identity confidential, but if you would like to send her a message, you can send it to my e-mail and I will forward it to her for you insha Allah.
(NOTE: Their job titles and descriptions were mentioned during the interview, but I have omitted and edited them so as to protect/ensure her anonymity)

Azizah:  “Assalamu Alaikum”
The Sister: “Wa Alaikumu Salaam”

Azizah: “What would you say is an ideal salary or income for a couple like you? And what is your fixed salary now?”

The Sister: “Ideal is eight thousand…our fixed salary is five thousand…”

Azizah: “Do you have more than one child?”

The Sister: “Yes I have three kids” (She was smiling and nursing her youngest baby while answering here)

Azizah: “Do you ever have extra money left over for free-use after you have run errands and paid bills? If yes, what do you do with it?”

The Sister: “Yes we do have extra money most times… unless we have to go doctor to buy medication, etc…with the extras, we buy clothes for the kids or us sometimes or if  they need like a new shoe, etc… Then I might try to save and then there is always a situation where we have to use the money”

Azizah: “Do you think your children suffer in anyway because of your financial situation? If  yes, how so?”

The Sister: “No my kids are fine with how we work things out. Even if we do get broke, somehow Allah provides by other means… like if we do get broke my husband might have a ‘PJ’ (meaning ‘Private Job’) finishing and he’d get paid.”

Azizah: “Do you and/or your husband do any little side jobs to help make ends meet, or do you depend completely on his fixed salary?”

The Sister: “No we do not depend on his salary alone…he tried doing carpentry… got some cash with that but did not like it (she seemed a little sad here)…so he moved on to book work (details of job were omitted to protect her privacy). He has like two clients…thank Allah for this!”

Azizah: “Do you do anything extra as well?”

The Sister: “I was selling cosmetics & beauty products (details of job were omitted to protect the sister’s privacy) and when I had my last baby I sort of gave it up…. it did help a little in the past with some extra cash, because at that time my husband was not getting much PJ’s or any at the moment.”

Azizah: “Has your marriage suffered because of your financial status? If so, how?”

The Sister: “Well it did a little, my husband would get mad… not at me, but he might take it out on me because we didn’t have any cash and sometimes no food to eat, but we were not forsaken… thanks for my mom who gave us food when we needed. It was a bit bad in the past… he didn’t always get private jobs, and sometimes we would think he might get and spend a little too much and we’d suffer after. My husband never thought about divorce because of this situation but I did and we did argue a lot (she seemed sad again here when she spoke about this)

Azizah: “Does your financial situation influence the way you approach conversations or interact with people?”

The Sister: “Sometimes it does, but with close family.”

Azizah: “What about with strangers? Are you afraid to meet new people and bring them to your home?”

The Sister: “No I am not, I believe that the people I know are understanding and I am not ashamed, I have a lot to be thankful for.”

Azizah: “Do you think people think less of you because you are financially strained? If yes, why?”

The Sister: “I do at times, I think they see me as a little person and that I don’t deserve respect. Or maybe I assume this I’m not sure… Maybe my self esteem gets the better of me at times…”

Azizah: “Do you have any close friends or family that you are able to talk to about these things…someone you can vent to?”

The Sister: “Yes I do…”(she smiled here in a very reassuring way)

Azizah: “Are you able to vent to your husband when stressed or worried about the next bill and family decisions in general? If no, why do you think this is?”

The Sister: “Well I try not to anymore, I realize that it only makes him feel worse… I use to do this and I am trying to stop.”

Azizah: “Do you have open channels of communication between one another where you can chat casually about things that worry you?”

The Sister: “Not as much… but I have to keep reminding him that communication is important and I do get to talk to him at times about certain things… and if we are stressed about a situation I tell him, “Life is not suppose to be perfect, we will get through this and the grass is not always greener on the other side, Allah will help us we just need to pray and make dua””

Azizah: “Do you think a higher income or salary would make things easier and happier in general for your family?”

The Sister: “I think it would yes… but at the moment things may not be perfect, but I believe that we are happy…with the occasional bad moments which is part of life.”

Azizah: “If there was one thing, in this dunya(world), you could ask Allah(swt) for what would it be?”

The Sister: “I would ask for health for my family and I.”

Azizah: “What advice would you give to other young married couples in your situation if you had the chance?”

The Sister: “Well… I would say, please don’t let financial problems break up your marriage, hold on to it, you just need to keep praying and making lots of dua asking Allah for help, which is what we as Muslims should always be doing anyway, well off or not…” (she took a minute to think about her answer here and then continued) “Being on a tight budget, you just need to prioritize your needs…Also it is the culture of some to spend on things that may not be needed, don’t fall victims to advertising ploys and always ask yourself if you really need something before you buy it, at the same time don’t make budgeting income a task. Always try to put away extra money you have left!”

Azizah: “Jaza Kallah Khair!!! You did great!!!” (we spoke off the record thereafter)

Yours Truly,
Azizah…

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