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Ms MARCH 31, 2013 ISSUE NO. 41

Cool and Contemporary

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Home Budgeting 101

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inside what she said —

How Hazara women turn their embroidery skills into a tool for survival

domestic goddess —

A healthy and wholesome pumpkin delight

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Section In-Charge: Batool Zehra Send your feedback to women@tribune.com.pk

Adnan’s savvy personality


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Ms

the buzz

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, MARCH 31, 2013

Money

Matters by Rahat Kamal

The 101 on how to manage your money — and your husband’s!

H

e gives a huge chunk of his salary to his mom. You splurge your entire paycheck on shoes and chocolate. That car you’ve been meaning to buy since you got engaged is no closer to materialising than when his salary was a fraction of what it is now, but both of you want to take that vacation every year, if only to put up exhibitionist photos on Facebook. Congratulations — you are the typical Pakistani couple who has no idea what to do with your finances. Is your money just yours or should you contribute a fraction to the household expenses, even though that’s ‘the man’s job’? Does he really need to be the main contributor any time a major expense comes up on his side of the family? These questions most likely turn up every time the two of you have a fight but how many times have you really tried to have a calm, mature discussion on your financial obligations and goals? With inflation and economic uncertainly, a financially secure future cannot be taken for granted. Cohesion between you and your spouse is pivotal in guaranteeing the smooth running of your house’s monetary engine, and rather than frittering away the money you’re earning now, you should be planning for the years when expenditures will exceed earning power. Here are some dos and don’ts financial experts suggest for keeping couples out of rough financial waters.

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Understand your financial earnings and budget The most important thing is for the couple to thoroughly understand their financial situation, sit together and create a budget outlining income and expenses. Both partners should be involved in setting financial priorities and plans. Budgets allow you to have a clear picture of the inflow and outflow of money. It’s easy to spend on impulse and forget about it, but that has countless repercussions which you have to face when it’s time to pay the bills. Even though budgets are hard to make, they should be prepared immediately after — or possibly, even before — the wedding, as they help identify your priorities and give you a blueprint for future spending. Money is one of the most common factors behind marital discord, so budget-making, regardless of who the primary breadwinner is,

should be considered a team activity. This is because both partners are involved in spending the money and also because they have to be on the same page as far as goals go. Budgets should be kept flexible, with room for certain deviations to be made when the need arises. But no matter what, the short and long term targets should be kept in focus. “Whether it’s saving up for a car or for retirement, focusing on the goals is better than micro-managing,” says Marium Fahad, savings expert at UBL Funds. She also warns that budgets should be kept realistic: “Unrealistic budgets either end up stressing your life or land you in a deficit later on. Respect your spouse’s needs and opinions and agree on a mutual goal, which both of you think is achievable. Budgets are perfected after trial and error, so analyse your spending every month to make timely alterations,” she says.

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Devise a Sound Financial Plan Though it is important for every individual to have a thorough financial plan, its importance magnifies after marriage as expenses tend to go up and income may not always scale accordingly. Additionally once a couple has children, they have to plan for big expenditure in the future, like school and then university. After fulfilling all monthly financial requirements, couples find themselves unable to save, which can have devastating effects later on in life. Couples should make a meticulous financial plan that suits their lifestyle and income level. The most important components of this plan should be medical insurance, which every couple should get, if it isn’t provided for by their employers. Besides that, the financial plan should also cover aspects like children’s education. Moreover, couples must have an annual savings target and stick to it by contributing a fixed amount every month to savings. Sharing the secrets of a successful saving plan, Fahad says, “You should allot a certain percentage of your take-home salary every month and put it aside. The best way to do that is a direct debit facility that simply transfers the predetermined amount to an inaccessible savings account the day the pay arrives — no temptations and no unnecessary splurging.” Another way to go about this is to open a joint


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THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, MARCH 31, 2013

everything from budget, upcoming bills, financial goals to anything else related to money. Meetings of such nature are beneficial as they strengthen communication and trust in a marriage.

COMMUNICATING

5%

Any purchase that exceeds this percentage of your monthly income constitutes a major expenditure and should be discussed beforehand with your spouse.

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Keep an Open Book Honesty remains a key element in a marriage, especially as far as money management is concerned. Deceptive behavior can have detrimental effects on your finances as well as your marriage. If you stray from your plan, make a financial blunder or purchase something you shouldn’t have, admit your mistake. Initially your partner may be displeased with you, but after he or she cools off you will earn respect and trust for your honesty. Lying about money will not only get you in trouble with your spouse, it will also make you stand alone to bear the repercussions.

savings/investments account, in which you can put in whatever money is left by the end of the month. “Idle money can earn a sizable interest, based on the level of risk you are willing to take, the least being an average of 10% in a risk-free money market. When you see the money growing every month, your motivation to add to it will increase,” says Fahad.

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Manage and Track your Money You may think you know how you spend your banknote, but having a written document in front of you makes it easier to rectify deviations. It is very easy to overspend unless you keep a track of your current and shortterm expenses. Fahad suggests that you should meticulously document all minor outflows of money: “Small purchases that appear trivial can sometimes add up to cause more tribulations than bigger purchases. Make sure they are accounted for either by documenting them or retaining the receipts.” But don’t forget, this is not so you can blame each other for spending more than the other; it is just an effective way of determining the spending habits of the husband and wife. It also helps in setting financial goals both partners are comfortable with, as both are aware in which direction more money is flowing into and how to plug it.

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Manage Three Accounts Managing accounts is a key element in financial management and one that goes through the most modulation after marriage. Most financial experts agree that managing two separate accounts and one joint account is the most viable option. Keeping separate accounts gives each person financial autonomy and the freedom to manage their own spending. The joint account, on the other hand, is used to pool in a mutually decided amount of money to be utilised for the monthly running of the house and savings. It is even better if the joint savings account has no ATM card since this limits the urge for spontaneous purchases. We are more liable to take out our cards and swipe them, than we are to driving to the bank to cash a cheque. The joint savings account should have a joint cheque book though, so that both husband and wife are on the same page as far as big purchases go. Fahad proposes that the joint account should be an online account so that both husband and wife can view the inflow and outflow of money and see their spending patterns. Whichever way you choose to handle your accounts, as long as you operate two single accounts and one joint account you have the key to monetary bliss. You and your partner will be able to retain your autonomy and it will prevent both of you from using money as a tool in your

"Unrealistic budgets either end up stressing your life or land you in a deficit later on. Respect your spouse’s needs and opinions and agree on a mutual goal, which both of you think is achievable

INVESTING

10%

is the least you can earn in a risk-free money market with your savings. More, if you are willing to take on some risk.

relationship.

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Discuss Finances Regularly Another crucial aspect of financial management that experts suggest is to discuss all major spendings, like buying a car, a laptop, in short, anything that constitutes more than 5% of the monthly income should be discussed. It may not be the easiest topic to have coffee over, but having regular discussions about finances maintains a good understanding of who stands where. Abdul Ghafoor Baloch, Assistant Director Headquarter of the National Savings Centre, says that for smooth financial management, couples should discuss their finances regularly. “Instead of feeling coy about such matters the couple should sit together and discuss their earnings versus their expenses and track how well their financial goals are being met,” adds Baloch. “This helps in creating financial harmony between the couple and avoiding recurrent squabbles and misunderstandings later on in the marriage.” Though seemingly trivial, financial conflicts can have detrimental effects on the relationship sometimes even leading to divorce. One way to go about this is to have ‘weekly money meetings’, rather than bringing up money every time you have a fight. You can discuss

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Go to an Expert Whenever you find it difficult to steer your finances, it is best to visit an expert. “From wanting to buy a new car in two years, your child’s college or wedding fund, to your own retirement, you can choose any number of formal plans offered by several asset management companies,” says Fahad. Moreover she recommends you and your spouse to sit down with a wealth advisor who can assist in chalking out your short and long term goals and recommend plans and the level of aggressiveness required to fulfil those goals. However, the commitment to contribute to that account regularly needs to come from both husband and wife. In short, managing money can be a little tricky but if these key do’s and don’t’s are followed, you and your spouse are looking towards a monetarily prosperous future. The key is to start early and develop a good financial base as a newly married couple. That done you’ll be able to work as a team through whatever life throws at you.

"From wanting to buy a new car in two years, your child’s college or wedding fund, to your own retirement, you can choose any number of formal plans offered by several asset management companies


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Ms

en vogue

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, MARCH 31, 2013

East mee Wes Crossroads combines seductive blacks and sensuous reds to bring a vivid western wear collection that can be worn both casually and on semi-formal occasions.


THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, MARCH 31, 2013

ets est Coordination: Umer Mushtaq Hair, make-up, photography and styling: Guddu Shani @ 360 degrees Label: Crossroads Model: Neha

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Ms

what she said

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, MARCH 31, 2013

Reaping

by Zahrah Nasir

what they

sew

Waziri Humanitarian Organisation’s current project helps Hazara women utilise their talent and earn cash for their struggling families The wrought-iron basement door was standing open, despite bitterly cold temperatures, to allow a few stray beams of sunlight to help us see what we were doing in this dark room in a Kabul suburb where the power was off. As we excitedly sorted through heaps of beaded and hand-embroidered dress pieces, we discussed possible designs that would show them off to their exquisite best. Suddenly, the door darkened and Attaullah Waziri and I looked up in surprise. A slight figure, tightly encased in a mud-splattered blue burqa, carefully stepped through drifting haze on the steep concrete stairs, a plastic bundle in her arms, mud-caked plastic shoes tip-tapping eerily as she descended to where we sat on the blue carpeted floor with our ‘treasure’ heaps. It was Fouzia, one of the most talented ladies to join our ‘Women’s Sewing Project’ which is aimed at helping widows, and other women from extremely poor backgrounds, earn an income and thus manage to survive in the harsh climate of Afghanistan as it is today. Fouzia’s story is typical of those who have come to us at ‘Waziri Humanitarian Organisation’, a Kabulbased NGO, in search of help: A member of the longpersecuted Hazara community, she is just 28 years old, a mother to two sons and a widow since the age of 18. “I was married at 14,” she relates. “And bore my two sons before I turned 18, when my husband died from a cerebral haemorrhage.” Too proud to ask for help, Fouzia who lives in a tiny ‘house’ which belongs to her brother-in-law, turned to the only skill she had in order to make an income. “I had learnt embroidery from my grandmother and mother during the good times,” she explains, her burqa thrown back to expose her delicate, high cheek-boned face. “I also went to school then, up to 5th grade. I now ensure that my sons get the best schooling they can in our local government school, as without a good education they can do nothing.” From her tiny home in the Hazara slum known as Dasht-i-Barchi, Fouzia began a long round of the distant, upmarket city shops. She carried with with her examples of her delicate embroidery: work so fine that it is impossible to tell the upper side from the back and, because of its extraordinary quality she was able to get enough orders despite intense competition. Then came the Taliban years. “God gave me hands

and feet so I have to work,” she stresses. “The Taliban were not going to stop me from feeding my sons. I do not want help. I will not have my sons growing up thinking that their mother is weak. I want them to be proud of me.” Not being able to stick to her previous routine with the Taliban on the prowl, Fouzia managed to make ends meet by selling to private customers only. “It was extremely difficult during those years,” she explains. “But I would not give in. I do have family members living near me but I refuse to ask them for anything. I will manage on my own and am doing the best I can. One day I will do even better and one day,” she says. “I will have a business of my own.” The number of women involved in Waziri Humanitarian Organisation’s project is between 10 to 12 at the moment. Set up using Waziri’s own hard-earned cash, we have only been in operation for a few months. Two of the women are currently training with the paid assistance of a master tailor in the basement premises loaned by a friend; the rest are working from the privacy of their own homes or from tents in the overcrowded internal refugee camps where even the basic necessities of life are absent.

by Zahrah Nasir

“With more than one of them earning as much as Afghanis 15,000 per month which is good even by Kabul standards”

Our project currently has just three sewing machines on which two Hazara women, Majabeen and Najiba, studiously stitch traditional Afghan outfits under the tutelage of ‘Ustaad’ Sahib, a master tailor from Jalalabad. The finished clothes are then carefully ironed and packed ready for dispatch to outlets in California and Germany, which have agreed to market for us. In the meanwhile, negotiations with other potential outlets in New York and Canada are currently underway and we are also looking to the internet for sales. Profit is ploughed back into the project in the form of cloth, embroidery material and sewing machines so that more women can be trained. The women working on the premises are paid a monthly income; plus, they are given a substantial lunch — which they happily take turns in preparing

in the adjoining kitchen — and all the tea they can drink. Those, such as Fouzia, are on a piece rate for whatever work they can find the time to do. Rates vary depending on the intricacy of the embroidery work they are requested to undertake. They are quite happy with the pay they receive, with more than one of them earning as much as Afghanis 15,000 per month which is Rs.30,000 and good even by Kabul standards where the cost of living is shockingly high. The atmosphere in our basement is jovial: 20-yearold Majabeen, the only earning member of a family consisting of a sick father, mother and four younger siblings, happily jokes with Najiba. Najiba herself has four young children and her husband, a traditional cobbler has been rendered jobless due to the influx of cheap Chinese shoes in the bazaars. The income from her sewing also has to support her widowed motherin-law and a brother-in-law who lost both legs during the years when the Mujahideen fought the might of the Soviet Empire. Along with the new embroidery so painstakingly done by these women, we also reuse whatever antique Afghan embroidery work we can manage to find. These we buy from various sources who have travelled remote regions of the country, an increasingly dangerous task, in search of the rapidly dwindling amount of genuine pieces to be found. This is a painful indication of how desperate village and nomad women must be to resort to selling what is, in reality, their heritage and we are working towards, slowly and just one small step at a time, being able to incorporate at least some of these women in our project too.


domestic goddess 7

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, MARCH 31, 2013

recipe

Doodh kaddu Madiha Hamid is a digital media professional. She loves the food traditions unique to families. She is running a food blog for Pakistani and regional cuisines called cheflingtales.com

A light and hearty meal with the wholesomeness of milk, ‘doodh kaddu’ is a Kashmiri dish that has a mouthwatering taste of its own. Prepared without any tomatoes and the fieriness of red chilies, this bottle-gourd dish is a healthy delight with the cholesterol-controlling properties of the vegetable itself

method •

Heat oil in a deep pan on medium flame.

Add garlic paste and stir fry till it turns golden brown.

Now add bottle-gourd (loki) to the pan along with cumin seeds, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt.

Sprinkle some water and cook on medium heat.

Make sure to constantly stir ingredients while cooking until the vegetable is soft, adding a tablespoon of more water halfway. This technique is traditionally referred to as ‘bhunna’.

Slowly pour in the milk while stirring. Continue mixing till all ingredients have merged well together.

Cover the dish with a lid and leave it to cook on medium heat.

Cook until there is minimal gravy left.

Serve it with steamed white rice.

ingredients Loki (peeled and diced into small pieces) 1 kg Garlic paste 1 tbsp Cumin seeds ½ tsp Coriander powder ½ tsp Turmeric powder ¼ tsp Water 2 tbsp Milk 1 litre

Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes Serves 4 people

Salt to taste


hottie of the week 8

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, MARCH 31, 2013

Status Born

Married with three kids Lahore, Pakistan

Birthday

23rd October

Face

85%

Who is he?

Adnan Siddiqui

With his salt and pepper hair, classic attire and down-to-earth personality, Adnan Siddiqui is one of the most dapper gentlemen in the Pakistani television industry. The actor kick-started his career back in the early 1990s and won our hearts as the dashing boy-next-door in the classic PTV drama serial ‘Uroosa.’ Ever since then he has wowed us with his performance in some of the most popular TV series, including ‘Mehndi,’ ‘Doraha,’ and ‘Meri Zaat Zara Benishan.’ Despite having a Hollywood movie under his belt with Angelina Jolie, this charming heartthrob is as humble as one can be.

Body

85%

Talent

95%

Why we love him Alpha male looks and a buff bod make this hunk the desi version of Gorgeous George and we just can’t stop drooling over him! But what we really love is how he has effortlessly shed his boyish persona and settled suavely into his 40s. Some things just get better with age and Adnan is one of them! We also love that, unlike other actors who had their heyday in the 90s, he doesn’t appear in ANY commercial for hair transplantation (eww, talk about a turn off!). A rather conventional man at heart, he prefers to keep things simple and natural. Mind you, he is more than just a pretty face! He is an entrepreneur, an advertiser and more than just a bathroom singer. He enjoys playing a range of instruments including the flute, percussions and the keyboard. We would give up anything to sway the night away on your tunes, Mr. Siddiqui!

What you didn’t know about him The actor has a sporty side to him and is an avid cricket player. He is truly wedded to his career and says, “If I wasn’t a successful actor then I would definitely be a starving/struggling actor.” His ideal woman: “It’s the personality that ranks as the priority. I always start from the bottom. From the shoes to the way up and not from the face down to the shoes.”

Total Package

88%


The Express Tribune hi five - March 31