Money 101: Your fiscal New Year’s resolutions

Published: December 31, 2010
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I will live each day to the fullest and enjoy to the maximum because life should be spent and not saved.

Dear readers, by now I feel like a strict school headmistress telling you what to do and not do vis a vis your hard earned cash. So my New Year’s resolution is all about making saving fun for you!

But since a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, before I conjure up fun ways of saving the moolah next week onwards, I present my Top New Year’s Fiscal Resolutions!

1. I will not keep any more than two credit cards

The first card would be for my daily petrol filling, coffee buying and grocery shopping needs. And, the second will be for absolute emergencies which arise when the first one refuses to work thereby leaving you stranded in less desirable positions – the main reason for this being the inside knowledge that a spare credit card is far more lethal than an unopened box of chocolates, having seen many friends juggle for years. It lures you into a web of non-affordable spending and a vicious debt cycle along with astronomical interest rates (approx 19 per cent) and a hefty annual fee.

So I will learn to live without the card offering 10 per cent discounts at my optician and have a long term relationship with a solitary card which hopefully gives me air miles – a great reward system plus it would be useable even in remote Eastern Europe.

2. I will select a charity and give generously to them every month

I know the blog is about saving, so consider this saving of the soul.

Set aside two, five or 10 percent of your monthly income and donate to a cause that you believe in. Education, healthcare, flood relief, there are many issues that require our monetary support and by donating a small amount today you are giving back to society and creating an infrastructure that will help you in the future. For example, donating towards flood relief today will save you from bearing the continuous burden of subsidies that the government might offer them in the years to follow.

3. Enroll into an airline loyalty plan

Those who know me, know my strong love for air miles. I collect them, hoard them and plan trips to wondrous lands using them as my wings. So if you are a frequent flier, please enroll into your preferred airline’s loyalty plan. Most plans give you a return ranging from five to 10 cents per dollar spent and have affiliations with popular hotels and car rentals so that you can continue to accumulate miles by staying with them too.

Business travelers please note – air miles belong to the traveler so even though your company pays for your ticket you can enjoy the rewards by taking the disgruntled ‘missus’ for a break. It will make all your long absences from home feel worthwhile!

4. Recycle, reuse, re-package

I will recycle everything starting from clothes to cardboard cartons, use re-useable bags and packaging for my daily shopping, food and home material storage and become a desi and much inspired version of Martha Stewart who makes kajal from half used candles, potpourri from wilting roses, and jam from over ripened fruit. And I will be enthusiastic about my efforts instead of fearing that the neighbors’ will consider my gift of homemade jam as further proof of my eccentricity. This will cut down my costs, as frankly dear readers, plastic is fairly expensive and not too nice looking.

5. I will be stringent about my savings

Every month I will put aside a small amount even if it means eating magi noodles for dinner from the 25th till the 30th but I will aim to save 10-20 per cent of my salary and take pleasure in watching it grow. Having heard of too many terrible stories about rash investments in our dicey stock market, I will be cautious and make the tortoise my role model.

6. Set up a special occasions fund

Since I have moaned the cost of celebrations, ranging from weddings to envelopes filled with Eidi, I will ape the wise westerners and set aside a special occasions fund January onwards. So go ahead friends, relatives and colleagues get married and produce brats who want to visit me on Eid. My wallet will prevent bankruptcy by forgetting that it had a few more currency notes to spend every month.

And in addition to all these fantastic ideas, I will use the local park as my workout area, not waste water (tanker charges are hovering around the 2-3k range) and use everything in my kitchen cabinet to create home remedies that Cleopatra owed her beauty to. But most importantly I will live each day to the fullest and enjoy to the maximum because life should be spent and not saved.

So wishing you all a very happy new year! May 2011 bring you all the joys and none of the tribulations of life!

Shezray Husain

Shezray Husain

A journalist turned investment banker turned entrepreneur with a keen interest in most things around her.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.