Spending Your Bonus the Islamic Way
The Sharia doesn’t only offer guidelines towards spending, says Elsa Febiola Aryanti. It also makes sure that you have enough for the future.
Islam is a faith of modesty and simplicity. The same qualities are applied to spending within its tenets. Indonesians recently received their Eid bonuses from their employers. These bonuses form part of their income structure, and they are disbursed in the month preceding Eid ul Fitr, a religious holiday that celebrates the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan. Locally referred to as the THR (Tunjangan Hari Raya), the bonuses are given to both Muslim as well as non-Muslim workers.
Everyone loves a bonus, no matter what the occasion may be: Eid, Christmas, or Chinese New Year; at the end of the year, or at the beginning of the year. It’s comforting to know that oftentimes, bonuses are handed out during the holidays. Caught up in the festivities, though, let’s not forget that nothing is forever, and that everything ultimately belongs to Allah. Although bonuses are just that—bonuses—they are still considered income. And should your bonus exceed zakatable levels, you are obliged to pay zakat upon it. Zakats serve to ‘cleanse’ your wealth, and provide a way of obtaining Allah’s blessings on it.
Eid means ‘festivity’ in Arabic. In Indonesian and Malay, the term used is ‘raya’
Riba is an Arabic word that refers to an amount that is charged on the principal, or original loan
Zakat means to grow (in goodness), increase, purifying, or making pure
A bonus, as the term implies, is meant to add value to your financial wellbeing, so use it to pay off any arrears that you may have. Reducing your debts eases some of the pressure you receive from interest. This, in turn, reduces your involvement with riba.
Once you’ve taken care of your dues, set aside five to 10 per cent of your bonus for a rainy day. No matter how big or small the windfall you get, make it a habit to save a portion of it. Third, try to spend the rest on good, wholesome and halal things, and not towards those that could either harm yourself or others.
Budgeting is next on the list. As bonuses are usually handed out towards the holidays, during this time, expenses are typically higher, with more travelling, shopping, sightseeing and eating to be done. Armed with experience, book your tickets and accommodation at least three months in advance to get better deals from your preferred airlines and hotels—the same five star hotel may offer you rooms at US$100 less this way, which means dinner for two at your favourite restaurant. Budgeting does mean getting more sometimes.
Fifth, spend in moderation. Bonuses and holidays do not mean that you should clean out your wallet right away. For instance, if you don’t actually need three more pairs of shoes, then just buy two pairs. Take your time in spending your bonus—there will always be another time when you must have another pair of shoes.
Meanwhile, should you find yourself with a little more than you need, engage yourself in a cause that is close to your heart: plan a fun charity project with your girlfriends, arrange for your colleagues to bring old books to your office for orphans, or treat the poor to a hearty meal complete with a DIY ice cream sundae dispenser.
Whatever you choose to do, spend wisely and accordingly. Add value to your financial wellbeing, and look forward to receiving more of Allah’s blessings.The writer is a fund manager at a reputable state-owned pension fund institution in Indonesia as well as a Sharia-based financial planner, writer and trainer. She also volunteers at a zakat organisation in Indonesia.