Celebrating Purim on a Budget

Holidays are important. Spreading joy is important. Holidays are not a time to skimp or be unnecessarily frugal. They are a time to celebrate and enjoy…. and not go into debt.

 

Purim

One of the most important ways to be able to celebrate any holiday without going into debt is to budget all year. I take a 5% of each paycheck and place it in a separate bank account (modern envelope system) to save up for all the holidays. I only spend as much as I was able to save. I sometimes will take bonuses or part of my tax refund to bulk up this account as well. It is important to me to be able to celebrate appropriately. It’s important to me to be able to participate in holiday traditions and activities at the same level as others in my community. It is also REALLY important for me NOT to go into debt. It is a balance between participating the way I want to, and not blowing my money on things that are not essential. Saving money beforehand helps me with that balance. I spend the money I have and I don’t have to “guess” how much I can afford. The money is budgeted BEFORE I start planning so I have a dollar amount that I know I have to stick to.

Purim is about joy. It is about celebrating with friends and family. It is about thanking G-d for the good He has given us. It is not about going into debt in order to impress or show off. It is not about spending more that we can. It is about taking what we have and using it to increase our joy and our friend's joy WITH WHAT WE WERE GIVEN. Click To Tweet

Purim, one of the funnest Jewish holidays of the year and one that is actually pretty expensive. I always feel that since Passover comes right after with all it’s huge expenses, that Purim sort of gets overlooked when it comes to the budgeting.

Luckily there are some ways to make Purim a little easier on the wallet.

Read more about what Purim is here.

Purim Money-Saving Tips:

Mishloach Manos- (read here if you have NO CLUE what this is). I do something homemade every year. While store-bought items are much easier, the savings with something homemade cannot be beat. You can still do something classy and nice even when you are making something homemade. Don’t forget that the point of Mishloach Manos is not to impress everyone with your creative and flawless creations but to increase joy to the receiver. Some ideas that are budget-friendly and appreciated: fresh bread, muffins, vegetable platter, or cake. As Passover is right around the corner, none of these items need to be too large or else it will just get tossed. I find that most of the money goes towards packaging so I try to find packing ideas that will need less. For example, a simple bag will usually end up costing less than a basket, cellophane, label and ribbon. Gift bags are also easier to assemble and transport. They can also be reused. Please note that I am not bashing or criticizing anyone who goes all out for Purim. I love getting some of those elaborate and creative mishloach manos but its just not worth going into debt over. If you can afford it and enjoy it, then go right ahead! If you can’t afford it then think hard about why you are determined to make such elaborate concoctions.

Kids Mishloach Manos- Kids like candy. It’s pretty universal. I am not going to make my kids give a healthy or cheap michloach manos if they want otherwise. The older they are, the more opinions they have. What I do try to do is compromise by having one fun candy item and then something like fun cookies. This year we are doing a candy stick from Cracker Barrel ($.10 and OU) and then 2-3 colorful cookies (recipe here) in a bag. The whole thing will probably be less than $.50 each. This also allows me to make a whole bunch so they can give whomever they want without having to ration. The parents also appreciate that it’s not too much sticky and messy candy!

Meal- Simple and hearty is the theme. I try to do a main dish that goes with easy starches like rice or another grain. Simple side dishes like potatoes and coleslaw will fill up a hungry crowd pretty easily. (Read more tips on how to make a feast on a budget). One of my splurges is to only use paper goods for the meal. But I find that simple, colorful paper goods look so nice and festive without costing too much.

What are some things that you do to make Purim more affordable?

Equal Access to Financial Independence

#InternationalWomensDay2019

March 8th is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, Brynne from Femme Frugality got together with some fab personal finance bloggers to arrange a blog tour. Each one of us answered the question, “Why is financial independence important to you as a woman?”

To read more amazing blog posts answering this question click here. 

By: Brynne from Femme Frugality

International Womens Day

Before I was exposed to world of FIRE and 4% withdrawal rules, financial independence had a significant and different meaning for me. It wasn’t a label just for the independently wealthy. It was a label for anyone who could function financially without assistance.

 

Functioning on my own financially is important to me not just because of pride, but also because it means that no matter what happens, I can take care of myself.

 

This sounds basic. Like a given.

 

But it’s not.

 

Up until very recent history, as a woman I would not have been able to hold a job, or if I did, it would be one in my father’s or husband’s business. If I ventured out to start a business on my own, I may be labelled a witch.

 

Even if I did start my own business, there’s a strong probability that I would have been required to hand it over to my father or husband to manage. Today, we’d call that financial abuse. But not so long ago, it was just what you did.

 

Financial independence means that I can make my own decisions about my work, my own property, my family and my relationships. Without the ability to achieve economic autonomy, none of these things would be possible.

 

There will be times in all of our lives where we’re not financially independent. Where we need help from others. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. In these moments of need, we should reach out and get help so that we can recover and become independent again as quickly as possible. If we don’t get the help we need today, we won’t be able to extend help to others tomorrow.

 

When we’re back on the track to economic independence, we’re able to not only manage our lives as they currently are, but we’re also capable of building big, beautiful dreams. Want to own a beach house someday? If it’s a priority,  you can totally start saving for that. Wanted to go to the Outback since you were a kid? Save up some cash and make it happen.

 

You can do all that because you’re allowed to bring in and manage those dollars independently.

 

As I mused on my great luck of being born into such a time when all this was possible, I couldn’t help but think of those for whom it is not. I have friends, acquaintances and family members in various disability communities. Contrary to common perception, having a disability does not always mean that you can’t work; it just means you can’t work in a traditional manner without accommodations. You can make valid and important contributions to this world. In fact, sometimes you wouldn’t be able to make those contributions without your disability.

 

When you’re collecting government benefits–sometimes even something as direly important as your state’s Medicaid plan–you’re not allowed to work past a certain amount. At one point in the past few years, the most you were allowed to bring in monthly was somewhere between $700 and $800. Again, in some states, if you earn more than that, you’ll lose the health insurance that in some cases is literally keeping you alive.

 

So you’re forced into poverty. You learn to get by on what little you have–a few hundred in income, Social Security benefits, maybe insurance payouts depending on if you had a disability policy or not.

 

There is no pathway to financial independence.

 

And that’s not okay.

 

As a woman, there are still hurdles in my pathway. But there is a road to pursue. As we work to take down the barriers we face as female residents of this country, like the wage gap, investment gap, and the unfair distribution of both domestic and financial responsibilities based on gender, let us also remember to make sure everyone has access to the road.

What does Financial Independence mean to me? #InternationalWomen'sDay2019 Click To Tweet

 

Living With A Broken Dustpan: Lessons Learned from the Frugal-Not-By-Choice trenches

Living With A Broken Dustpan

Lessons Learned from the Frugal-Not-By-Choice trenches

dustpan

There was a time in my life when I was unemployed and we (my husband and I) had very, very little money. It was a dark, depressing time. I was extremely hesitant to use credit cards or dip into savings because I had no idea if I would ever get another job or be able to pay it back. I had watched too many people sink deep into credit card debt and I really didn’t want that happening to me.

I was on a tiny, strict budget and I really stuck to it. I sometimes look back and wonder how we managed to make it work and I honestly don’t know. We had so little. (One day I’ll write a blog post about that!)

One day my dustpan broke. Cracked. I didn’t know what to do. I really needed a new dustpan but I didn’t have the money to buy one. My husband and I discussed putting it on the credit card- it was a real need after all! But we decided to wait until we actually had cash to do it. This meant waiting until my husband could make it with his “side-hustle” which was very sporadic and not at all consistent or I could make the money with online tasks and surveys. So we waited. In the meantime, I was still using the broken dustpan. And I really made it work. I would get on the floor and push all the dirt to one corner of the pan and then hold it tilted so the dirt wouldn’t fall through the crack while I carried to the garbage can. It took longer but I soon got the hang of it.

We finally had the money to buy a new dustpan (online surveys WILL NOT make you rich-even if you read that it will but it did get me some money when I really needed it) but it seemed silly to buy a new dustpan (remember, we had VERY little money) when we were making do with the old one. Our old, cracked dustpan continued to serve us faithfully until I finally got a new job and we were able to easily afford a new dustpan.

But the experience taught me some important lessons:

  1. Even when you think you can’t use it anymore- it still may surprise you and give you more use!
  2. You may think something is broken but there is more there.
  1. If you really need an item but you can’t afford it, push off the decision one more day. And one more. And then see if you really still can’t live without it.
  2. When life pushes you to the point where you think you can do it anymore, when it seems that a broken dustpan is the only tool you have at your disposal- you have it in you to make it work. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. You may think you can’t live with a broken dustpan, that you need something better than you have- but you may surprise yourself! You can make it work! You can do it!
  3. When you are struggling with money, it may seem like another blow to have to clean your house with a broken dustpan. It can depress you every time you have to sweep. It is another indignity that must be suffered. Things will get better. Things will change. When the sun does come out, you will have an experience that will have made you a stronger, tougher person. Click To Tweet

If you have ever been at a point where you feel so low and are cleaning your house with a broken dustpan, remember: there are other people out there who are struggling as well (in many ways). You are not alone. You are a hero.

 

How much do I put into my retirement fund? Not a lot, unfortunately. But I put what I can. Why? to create good financial habits. Read: Why I put $5 a month into a Retirement account.