The Financial Crisis Hits Home: Money-Saving Tips for the Orthodox Family

by | in Economics


Create a Home-Spending Plan
• Create a detailed analysis or spreadsheet to analyze your expenses. Classify each expense as either necessary (food, rent or mortgage, utility bills) or discretionary (clothing, vacations, entertainment)
• Allot a fixed amount of money to be spent per time period
• Consult with a certified financial planner for advice

How to Stretch Your Dollars
• Plan your menu for the week and shop accordingly
• Eat out three times a year only
• Swap children’s clothing with family and friends
• Dry clean only when necessary
• Unplug electronics not in use, such as cell phone chargers and hair dryers
• Use fluorescent lighting or energy-efficient light bulbs
• Close the vents in empty or unused rooms. Installing programmable thermostats or energy-efficient furnaces and air conditioning units will save even more money
• Trim down extras on phone plans
• Use a calling card for international calls; shop around, as many rates change monthly
• Drive a small, gas-efficient car
• Check with your insurance company to see if it offers discounts for cars with air bags or automatic seatbelts

Saving on Semachot
• Downsize on invitations, orchestra, liquor and photography
• Eliminate choices for the entrée
• Be generous but reasonable when buying chatan/kallah gifts
• Dispense with multiple engagement parties
• Have a small, intimate event—do not invite everyone you know
•Throw a kiddush luncheon in shul rather than a large event in a hall for a Bar Mitzvah celebration
• Celebrate semachot at home and self cater

Summer Savings
• Vacation locally
• Take a low-key vacation at a kosher bed and breakfast or go camping. Go on day trips and enjoy canoeing, hiking or rafting
• Rent a motor home and travel
• Use shul listservs to borrow items you may need, such as camping equipment, luggage, a roof rack, coolers, et cetera
• Search airline and hotel web sites, as they are often cheaper than so-called discount web sites
• Ask for a camp scholarship; most camps would rather have you pay a portion of the fees than not send your child at all

Teaching Children the Value of Money
• Teach children effective budgeting from an early age
• Give your children a weekly allowance for completing assigned chores, such as folding laundry or mowing the lawn
• Don’t give your children money randomly; let them save their money for a prized item. This will give them a sense of pride and accomplishment and will teach responsibility.

Special thanks to Steven Burman, founder and president of Credit Advocate Counseling Corp. in Manhattan; Ruby Herman, a budget consultant in Bergenfield, New Jersey; Basil Herzstein, a certified financial planner in Rockville, Maryland, and David Siegel, a bankruptcy attorney and debt settlement consultant in Teaneck, New Jersey, for these practical and helpful tips.

Compiled by Bayla Sheva Brenner

This article was featured in Jewish Action Summer 2009.