Saturday, 21 May 2011

Beating the rise in prices?

The weather today over here is very but sunny! This is the beauty of spring season... in fact we are now approaching towards summer. Masha Allah... the four seasons in a year somehow make me to have certain expectation for the future. The cool flowery spring  is always being fond of by the people here... come after is summer time... the heaty and prickly temperature, it's a time for tan-skinned lover. But I'm always indifference... naturally tan! I love autumn anyway... though its going to be windy most of the time, the colour is really breathtaking and more importantly it tells you that life would never be 'green' throughout...after such a nice, cool and sunny time... there's always time where you have to face in life...the 'fall' of leaves.... preparing for a bitter season of winter!

Spring in Cardiff 2011
Autumn 2011

Huh! so much introduction! But it's just to reflect the perfect creation of Allah...the four seasons come into picture naturally in our life or structurally into the man-made systems. Everybody is aware that  we are experiencing the impact of economic downturn, almost in every single corner of the world. Neither an economist nor a theorist, but a two-year stint doing A Levels economics make me understand a bit of the cycle in the economy... the downturn will be there! And to a certain extent is predictable!

Fuel price triggers the economy! Even my mother who had never gone to any economics school could comment on the effect of the rise in fuel price... 'kalau naik harga minyak...nanti barang lain pun naikla tu...'. Now with almost £1.40 per litre of unleaded, what could you expect?

Would we enjoy pumping at this price again?
Indeed waking up in the morning with news of more increases in prices of goods is really an awful experience. As a person...  a consumer... and a mother of 5 kids, the impact of the economic downturn this time round is really pinching us. Being in the foreign country, indeed, we are struggling to survive... insya Allah for a better future as the sweet and flowery spring comes after the bitter and cold winter!

What choice do we have to beat this economic downturn?

Be positive, this is the period for us to learn managing the economic affairs of our family effectively. Usually the wife or mom leads the way like me! It's good to get the kids involve in the economic management of the family as well ... be the economist and money-keeper for the family... by the way it does not involve the live and death situation!.

Try these out and the lists are actually endless:

  • Grocery shopping
    • shop at bargain stores like Home Bargains, Lidl, Asda or Tesco...but do compare prices (usually moms are more alert with price differences!) through the internet FOC. For marketing sake, these stores have the tricks in charging prices. Anyway, take advantage of the price war over here.
    • buy the supermarket brand confidently. These products are ridiculously cheaper than the established brand but the quality is still superb. Most of the time brand kills your pocket! Normally supermarkets have the high and low range of products. The high end is still very much cheap than the establish brand. Have a thought about it if you are brand mania person.
    • Take advantage of   loyalty cards membership. We could enjoy some discounts through vouchers sent to us from time to time and the reward point system. However, I reckon Sainsbury is only good for its fuel and not for the groceries
    • 'Reduced price' really keeps our purse but we have to strategise our visit to supermarkets.  Evenings on weekdays and late afternoon on weekends give you good bargains. Don't worry with the quality... still edible! You could have 2 kg of carrot for just 20p and I had once bought 2 sticks of lemon grass for 1p!

  • Travelling
    • Plan your travel well in advance as you could save a lot on the accommodation bills. Travelodge is good for this. Grab the £9 per room offer and it is not a gimmick. I had this ridiculous price for our London trip and North wales break recently. After all it's just for us to have a tight sleep after wandering around the places.
    • Bring our own pre-cooked food as much as we can. For a big family like mine, it does safe a lot on the food bills. Anyway, our time is saved from looking for halal takeaways...confident and comfortable! Unless if go to Bradford, Manchester or Leeds where you could have loads of choices and the prices are appealing.
  • online shopping
    • beat the fuel price and time! Go for the free delivery and don't forget the review for the sellers!
    • in making decision to shop online, please also take into account non-monetary costs...driving time, queuing time, looking for goods in ever changing aisles...another marketing trick by supermarkets!
  • Carbooting
    • enjoy carbooting... the unbelievable prices! But don't just buy things for the price sake! Think about re-selling! Anyway it is part of saving the earth...recycling.
    • Bargain the price if possible.
    • Look for non-traders and non-regular carbooters if you are a regular shopper.
  • cheapest bargain or FOC
    • always look for bargain shop is a good place. If you want a good and quality charity, go to British Heart Foundation...though a little bit expensive than others, the stuff are of good quality and clean. But don't forget Islamic Relief also does have its charity shop and proces are very affordable, OR
    • bid at not good at bidding but friends do recommend this. Atleast the 'Buy it now' prices are sometimes better than the superstore/high street prices.
    • join the local/community yahoo group... members will be posting stuff to be given away FOC...sometimes almost new! Again a good practice of recycle... save the planet and save your money!
  • Keep abreast FOC
    • take advantage of the online newspapers...unless there's free local newspaper
    • go for METRO...definitely FREE

  • cook and serve fresh food
    • Eat out really tax your money over here...avoid eating out or even takeaway...special occasion is fine, anyway.
    • if you are super duper's like 4 in 1, plan your routine of cooking... practice makes perfect!
    • always stock up with blended onions/shallots+garlic+ginger for one week ration as well as blended chillies. That's really save your time! 
    • if you are asking help from your other half, make sure the above is ready and do not forget to label all your spice does help, otherwise he gonna call you just asking about the kurma powder while you are convincing your supervisor on your research!
    • and never any waste creative in cooking. Anyway, cooking is actually an art...the basic is there...the taste is depending on how we manouvre the measurements...if you don't believe, try it yourself! The common example is never throw away bread do not like could easily have a big container of crust...prepare for versatile bread pudding...simply soak with fresh milk and mix with butter, sugar...simply add in anything sensible to make it tasty...dusted cereals, raisins or mixed fruits are all welcome...

Owh...too long, but hopefully they are useful for us.... but the list would never end!!!!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Dedicated to all husbands...

Just to share a piece of wise thoughts of a Muslim brother who I believe he himself must be a husband and is practising them himself... otherwise it would not be just so natural....

Don't worry! All of you are great guys ...

Alsalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

It is very important for every husband to understand his wife. Remember, A woman is like melted wax, and her husband can mold her into any shape he likes, with his love, tenderness and trust.
Prophet Mohammad (SalAllahu alaihi wassalam) said, "the best amongst you are the ones who are best to their wives." So dear muslim brother! Your obligations towards your wife are not limited to earn money and support her financially. A wife needs love from her husband, and emotional support to.

10 Tips on How to Be a Successful Husband

1. Dress up for your wife, look clean and smell good. When was the last time us men went shopping for designer pajamas? Just like the husband wants his wife to look nice for him, she also wants her husband to dress up for her too. Remember that Rasul Allah - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - would always start with Miswak when returning home and always loved the sweetest smells.

(Dress up for your wife when you are at home also. Some brothers only dress up when they go out and that is not a good practice. A husband should dress up for his wife when they are at home. it makes a wife feel special)

2. Use the cutest names for your wife. Rasul Allah - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - had nicknames for his wives, ones that they loved. Call your wife by the most beloved names to her, and avoid using names that hurt their feelings.

(Remember, you are your wife's only boyfriend, and her only best friend. She does not go out seeking boyfriends and she shares a halal relationship with you. Love her unconditionally for the sake of Allah. And express your love to her. A woman likes to be told that she is loved. Call her from your work to make sure she is doing fine. I have seen my dad calling my mother several times a day, just to make sure she has been eating well. And my husband calls me at least twice from work to make sure I am doing well. These things are very important in a relationship.)

3. Don't treat her like a fly. We never think about a fly in our daily lives until it 'bugs' us. Similarly, a wife will do well all day - which brings no attention from the husband - until she does something to 'bug' him. Don't treat her like this; recognize all the good that she does and focus on that.

(Whenever there is a fight or argument, just remember all the things she does for you. she cooks for you, she takes care of your home, she takes care of your children and the most important thing is that she guards her modesty. So do not upset her if she is upset with you. hold her and tell her that you love her. Only your love can repel her anger. Communicate with her and discuss with her if there is any misunderstanding.)

4. If you see wrong from your wife, try being silent and do not comment! This is one of the ways Rasul Allah - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - used when he would see something inappropriate from his wives - radi Allahu 'anhunn. It's a technique that few Muslim men have mastered.

(Do not criticize her all the time. Trust her and trust her decisions. If she is doing something that you don't like, or that goes against the teachings of Islam, then do advice her gently.)

"A companion asked Prophet saw: what is the right of a wife over her husband?’ He said, «That you feed her when you eat and clothe her when you clothe yourself and do not strike her face. Do not malign her and do not keep apart from her, except in the house." -Abu Daud.

5. Smile at your wife whenever you see her and embrace her often. Smiling is Sadaqah and your wife is not exempt from the Muslim Ummah. Imagine life with her constantly seeing you smiling. Remember also those Ahadith when Rasul Allah - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - would kiss his wife before leaving for Salah, even if he was fasting.

(Do let your wife know that you are very happy and blessed to have her. A wife always wonder how her husband feels about her. She may have some insecurity about you, so make her feel secure. Always give her a hug whenever you come back from work. appreciate her and thank her for taking care of everything whole day. If you are not too tired, go out for star gazing for an hour or so.)

6. Thank her for all that she does for you. Then thank her again! Take for example a dinner at your house. She makes the food, cleans the home, and a dozen other tasks to prepare. And sometimes the only acknowledgement she receives is that there needed to be more salt in the soup. Don't let that be; thank her!

(Write thank you notes for her and place those notes in her books, her purse, her socks, and anything else that belongs to her. You can use your own creativity to thank her. You can thank her by writing something on a mirror with her lipstick, so that she can read it when she wakes up in the morning. You can also thank her by arranging a candlelight dinner AT HOME, you be the cook and let her rest. So far I have learnt that a nice romantic dinner at home is much better than going out for dinner. This way a couple saves themselves from many fitnahs. You can thank her by writing her letters and emails. Remember, in Islam, everyday is special. So celebrate wife's day with her, and do it very often without having a particular date. She will always wonder when the wife's day is going to be. You can also give her a certificate of appreciation, or a best wife award on wife's day. Do everything by yourself that day and let her rest, this way you will also know how difficult it could be to do household chores. Thank her by building a webpage for her, write a note there and a poem and then ask her to visit your webpage. Thank her by recording a voice message on a cd for your wife. She will love it! Thank her by giving her a gift, and a gift does not have to be expensive. Be creative! You do not have to give her Roses, you can give her a leaf too! (My husband gave me a leaf once, instead of roses, and I was very happy and surprised, and I appreciated his creativity). So remember, thoughtful and creative gifts makes a wife feel secure and happy. Thank her by ordering a halal pizza for her, ask the restaurant to cut it in a heart shape and have it delivered with a personalized note. Thank her by thanking her in a family gathering. A woman likes it when her husband gives her attention. If you visit her parents or your parents, hold her hands and tell your parents how happy you are after marriage. Give your wife an Islamic book as a gift after praying Tahajjud. Use your imagination and think about unique gifts. Remember, she does not need a diamond, she needs your sincerity and your heart, so always give her the gifts that are thoughtful. Whenever you do something to make her happy, observe her facial expressions and ask yourself about how you feel when you become her happiness.)

7. Ask her to write down the last ten things you did for her that made her happy. Then go and do them again. It may be hard to recognize what gives your wife pleasure. You don't have to play a guessing game, ask her and work on repeating those times in your life.

(Also ask her to write down the things you did that she did not like, or the things you did that made her unhappy. Try to not do those things in future. If she falls ill, let her lay down, and read different surahs from Qura'an while placing your hand on her forehead. When I got sick, my husband recited Qura'an for me, it really helped a lot mashaAllah. Remember, a wife needs her husband the most when she is not feeling well. Take good care of her because a healthy wife makes a healthy family. Do not expect too much from her when she is sick.)

8. Don't belittle her desires. Comfort her. Sometimes the men may look down upon the requests of their wives. Rasul Allah - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam set the example for us in an incident when Safiyyah - radi Allahu 'anha - was crying because, as she said, he had put her on a slow camel. He wiped her tears, comforted her, and brought her the camel.

(If there is a time of sadness, give her your shoulder to cry on. Hold her and tell her that everything will be fine. Alhamdulillah, my husband and my dad are amongst those muslim husbands who would even have tears in their eyes if their wives are sad. Remember, a woman does not like to cry alone in a corner. She needs someone to hold her when she is sad, so never let her feel lonely. Remind her the verses from Qura'an that talks about Patience and Piety.)

9. Be humorous and Play games with your wife. Look at how Rasul Allah - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - would race his wife Aisha - radi Allahu 'anha - in the desert. When was the last time we did something like that?

(Sense of humor plays a very important role in a marital relationship. Most women wish to have a husband who has a good sense of humor. Tell her decent and modest jokes that make her happy. Wife appreciates it very much if her husband makes her smile. You can play various games at home. Play with crayons, or have a pillow fight. Or hide different notes in your bedroom and ask her to find it. Think of different games you can both play. Do let her win sometimes! Do adopt interesting hobbies, such as reading, cooking together and gardening (grow a surprise rose plant in your garden, when you have the first rose blooming, take her to the garden and show it to her).
Newspaper and Sports Issue!
Men like to watch sports, or read newspaper. Most wives consider newspaper as their co-wives. So be very careful. If you are watching sports, turn the TV off if your wife comes around. Give her attention. Do not spend too much time reading newspaper, and do not read newspaper on the breakfast table, rather have an Islamic discussion. If you want to get her to like newspaper, then try to find something that interests her. Such as, try to find a news about Hijab. Or try to find a news about Muslim women for her.)

10. Always remember the words of Allah's Messenger - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam: "The best of you are those who treat their families the best. And I am the best amongst you to my family." Try to be the best!
In conclusion: Never forget to make Dua to Allah - azza wa jall - to make your marriage successful. And Allah ta'ala knows best !!

(And once again! Your wife is your best friend, and your girlfriend. Share everything with her. Remember she is your garment and you are her garment, so hide her faults and mistakes. Learn to forgive her. Also communicate a lot with her family. It really makes a difference if husband communicates with his in laws. It helps both husband's and wife's family to share a beautiful relationship. Respect her parents and show your love to her family. This will inspire her to love and respect your family. If her family is not muslim, do dawah to them in a beautiful way.)
Spend lots of time praying to Allah swt. Do fast often even if it is not Ramadan. Fasting brings patience and taqwah. Lead her in the prayer. There is nothing better than praying together. Remember Allah, so that Allah remembers you.
May Allah bless us and guide us all, Aameen.
Ma'a-salama -UY